What Does Matthew 5:48 Mean?

Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Matthew 5:48(HCSB)

Verse Thoughts

What an astonishing command: "Be perfect, as your Heavenly Father is perfect." On the surface it seems like an impossible, unreasonable, even thoughtless request, because God knows that we are a sinful race with a fallen nature, and that there is no way that we could ever obey this command.

God's eternal plan for man is so designed that we are unable to obey His commands in our own strength, but He will allow us to attempt to reach perfection - despite knowing that our fleshly efforts will end in failure! Indeed, over time we can nurture a very legalistic mindset, always trying to perfect our own walk, just trying to be a little better, work a little harder, always striving but never reaching that goal of perfection. We can become judgemental, looking down on those 'less perfect' than ourselves, and never satisfied with our own, futile efforts.

Often, we will spend months, years, even decades trying to reach our own standards of perfection through our own imperfect strength, until at last we come to understand that being perfect can never be achieved in our own effort, but only through Christ, our perfect, spotless Saviour.

Before the world was created, God planned a way that fallen man could be made perfect; a plan that had ultimate fulfilment in Christ, for our righteousness is in Christ and we are perfected in Him: "For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified." In Christ, we are to become mature, complete, lacking in nothing - we are to reach the goal of our calling - we are to finish the work that God has prepared for us to do - we are to be perfect - in Christ.

We cannot imitate Christ's righteousness, nor can we be perfect by striving to reach righteousness by resolutions, by means of self-help skills, or strictly training ourselves to be morally principled. Indeed, there is no way that we can become perfect by ourselves, even with the combined help of all the people in the world. The only way that we can be perfect, this side of heaven, is to be conformed into the image and likeness of Christ, by having His righteousness imputed to us, credited to us, and ascribed to us, through the power of the Holy Spirit and to the glory of the Father.

Should we not rejoice that God has not only commanded us to be perfect as He is perfect, but in His love and grace He foreordained that through faith in Christ we may be perfect, entire, and lacking nothing, simply by an act of saving faith and an obedient life of sanctifying faith, trusting Him to finish the good work he started in us - in Christ.

My Prayer

Loving Lord and Heavenly Father, I long to be more like You and to finish the work that You have prepared for me. Please perfect Your life in me in all I say and do, to Your praise and glory. In Jesus' name I pray, AMEN.

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