I find myself struggling with the concept of perfection on a daily basis. I feel the need to be as close to flawless as possible in everything I do. This is called perfectionism. It appears in my school work, my art, and my music. It is hard for me to acknowledge that I cannot achieve perfection on my own.
I started researching perfection in the Bible to understand how I might achieve this excellence, if I am not able to do it on my own.
Perfection, according to the Oxford Dictionary, is defined as being free from all flaws or defects. We have all strived for this trait at one time or another, but we cannot seem to attain it.
God’s plan has always been for us to reflect Jesus in His perfection, but sin has gotten in the way. In Matthew 5:48 Jesus declares, “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” The only way to eternal salvation is through Jesus Christ, and in receiving eternal life, we will become perfect.
Hebrews 5:9 says, “And being made perfect, [Jesus] became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him.” It was interesting to me eternal salvation and perfection go hand in hand. I had never considered that they might be connected.
This concept was made even clearer to me when I found the story of the rich young ruler during my search for perfection in the Bible.
The story of the wealthy young man who longed for eternal salvation is told in the Gospel of Matthew. “And behold, a man came up to him, saying, ‘Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?’” (19:16).
Jesus tells the young man to keep the commandments God has given us. The man insists that he has followed all of the rules and wants to know why he has not yet achieved the status of eternal life. In Matthew 19:21, Jesus tells him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”
However, the young man is extremely rich, and he does not want to give up his treasure on earth in order to have eternal life and treasure in heaven.
We are all like the rich young ruler. We follow the commandments and check off all the boxes in the hope of attaining eternal salvation and perfection like Jesus Christ, but we ignore the fact that we cannot accomplish perfection on our own.
In my desire for personal perfection, I forget to include God in everything I do. If we give up our treasures on earth, we grow closer to Jesus and grow in our faith. In doing so, we are able to have the gift from our heavenly Father of perfect, eternal life.
Perfection is a gift, not an achievement. Keep strong in your faith and lean on Jesus, and you will be rewarded with it.
All scripture quoted from the English Standard Version.