English blog

Be Perfect?

07-12-2015 - Posted by Andre Piet

index_3 A column by a psychologist in response to the bible word in Matthew 5:48 started as follows:

‘Be Perfect’. To perfectionists this is a Biblical command which boosts the pressure. And whoever isn’t a perfectionist should maybe become one? Do we need to have an urge to make no mistakes? Unfortunately our achievements fall short in one way or another. Our parenthood is not flawless. We are not always sweet children to our parents. Our effort for work, church, or others could always be bigger. Or, if the hours of the day are used up, then we surely could have spent them better. Also, after running out of energy, – keep going, do better, ‘be perfect’.  ‘Even as our heavenly Father is perfect’.

Next, the psychologist justly points out that ‘perfect’ in the Bible doesn’t have the meaning of perfection but of maturity. He illustrates this by means of the account of creation in the book of Genesis where ‘good’ also doesn’t mean perfect. He concludes his column with the following advice:

Practically I recommend perfectionists to:  Experiment with your high goals. Think of a few activities at which, instead of aiming at 100 percent of perfection, you strive for  90, 80 or even 60 percent of perfection.  And then call this, for yourself, ‘good enough’. Whoever allows himself to do this, will deal with life in a more mature manner and perhaps will get a more mature view of God as well: As someone who doesn’t reckon our flaws; but a heavenly Father whom also loves the one who performs 80 percent, 60 percent, or even shows a worthless performance.

To perfectionists this seems to me like a good advice. Not only the goal is good, but also the  journey towards the goal.  This seems like a much more relaxed perspective. However, I would like to point out something which (in my experience) is even much more beautiful and liberating. Also a much better remedy against perfectionism. Did you know that Matth 5:48 doesn’t read at all “BE ye therefore perfect…” (see Authorised Version and NIV ) but “ You SHALL therefore be perfect……(Concordant version, Young’s Literal translation). Linguistically formulated: In the original Greek text there is no imperative but an indicative, future tense. So it is a promise! Therefore the obligations rest fully on the party making the promise. Jesus’ words are not a command to strive at perfection or maturity. No, He promises his listeners that they shall be perfect. “Be perfect….” are words that put us to work. Work on ourselves. But “you shall be perfect….”  makes us expect everything from our heavenly Father Who is perfect and therefore fulfils what he promises. That gives all credits to Him who deserves them. What a hopeful, joyous message! And isn’t that precisely what makes us look and move in the right direction?! 1_blog_13 HB