Perfect

Is perfection attainable?

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(Photo: iStock)

When I was a boy I thought the term “pet peeve” described someone who didn’t like dogs.

I know better now . . . probably too well.

Some of my pet peeves: fingerprints on glass or glossy surfaces. The volume on the television or car stereo set to an odd number (multiples of five accepted). Not reading to the end of a chapter. Not making the bed. Not wiping down the sink or bench tops (or your little droplets on the rim of the toilet bowl, gentlemen).

(Deep breath.)

Oh! Those ink blobs that spill out of ball point pens that eventually lead to disastrous smears across the page.

The. Worst.

OK, I may be exaggerating (slightly). It’s not all doom and gloom. To offset my pet peeves I also have a number of “pet pleasures” or “pet penchants”, such as arriving somewhere and switching off the car just as a song finishes playing on the stereo. Things in alphabetical or chronological order. When the bag of apples weighs in at 1 kg exactly, or the total of the groceries is $50 flat. 

"Want to be perfect? Wait. Stop. 'Be still, and know that [He] is God.'"

Am I a perfectionist? Yes, and no. If anything I’m a recovering one. I’m still learning that while some things are “black and white” and “perfect” (i.e., 100 per cent on a test score), life and people exist within a spectrum of grey. My idea of perfection will be different to yours, and so the often-said adage that “perfection is a myth” rings true.

But then again . . .

“Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48, NIV).

This isn’t a suggestion; it’s an instruction. And God doesn’t give instructions He doesn’t expect us to follow.

So, is perfection attainable?

Yes.

And no.

God commands us to be perfect, yet He doesn’t provide a comprehensive checklist on how to achieve perfection. What we have is a model—Jesus—and a manual—the Bible. One verse in particular recently struck a chord with me.

“Let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (James 1:4, NKJV).

It’s not often we make the link between patience and perfection. We normally think of perfection as this lofty thing to pursue, only reachable by doing better or being better. James, however, suggests the opposite. Want to be perfect? Wait. Stop. “Be still, and know that [He] is God” (Psalm 46:10, NIV).

The work of patience is “perfect” because it leads us to a place of real surrender, where we can lift our hands in the midst of a highlight or a heartache and say, “I’m OK. God’s got this.” 

Jesus told the rich young ruler, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor
. . . and come, follow me” (Matthew 19:21, ESV). The road to perfection involves less of you and me, and more of Him.

Be patient and be still. Wait on the Lord and be complete, lacking nothing. “For the life of every living thing is in his hand, and the breath of every human being” (Job 12:10, NLT).

Again, “God’s got this.”

(Deep breath.)

I don’t know about you, but to me that sounds pretty amazing. Maybe even perfect.

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