Striving for perfection

Do you strive for perfection?

Photo credit: Robin Mikkelsen Norway Midnight Sun

I love a clean orderly house. I love it when the kids are all clean, in clothes that fit well with no grass stains etc. Clean windows without any streaks. The smell of vanilla in the air. The children playing quietly together. All projects caught up….

Well it sounds nice, but, it isn’t reality and possibly isn’t perfection either.

Depending on your dictionary and when it was written your definition may vary slightly…

Webster’s Dictionary 1828

The state of being perfect or complete, so that nothing requisite is wanting; as perfection in an art or science; perfection in a system of morals.

Webster’s Dictionary 1913

The quality or state of being perfect or complete, so that nothing requisite is wanting; entire development; consummate culture, skill, or moral excellence; the highest attainable state or degree of excellence; maturity; as, perfection in an art, in a science, or in a system; perfection in form or degree; fruits in perfection.

Nothing wanting… nothing left undone.

I so desperately want to get it right… yet so often I come up short. I leave it wanting… I don’t always manage my time wisely and leave things undone.

I don’t always react correctly in situations… case and point… Today I took three of the kids with me to do errands. Things were going great and then Joel started to unravel. We had probably been out too long and he was tired. We stopped at the last grocery store and Taliah excited the van on Joel’s side of the van, for whatever reason that did Joel in. He started stomping around the parking lot and crying. I would love to tell you I picked him up and hugged him and told him I know your tired and want to go home. I need you to calm down so we can finish this last store and go home.

No, I plunked him in his chair and said,”Fine Joel we can go home right now and you can tell Daddy why he has to go to work with no supper because we are not going in that store with you acting like this.” More crying… “Zip it now!!!” spoken completely devoid of compassion. He pulled it together but was sulky. Once we left the store we weren’t on the road for 5 minutes before he fell asleep. Not perfect.

I think we all have a desire on some level to be perfect.

Matthew 5:48

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

Are we capable of ‘perfect’; is that what that verse means?? I am no theologian but I do have some thoughts and I would love to hear your thoughts too. First, anytime a sentence has ‘therefore’ in it we need to look back and see what preceded it. In this case, it is preceded by the beginnings of the Sermon on the Mount… kind of, the how-to’s of following Christ. Is the ‘therefore’ referring to all of Chapter 5 possibly, it could also be referring to the paragraph before it.

To read all of chapter 5 go here. Just to name a few ideas expressed in Chpt. 5, always keep your oaths, turn the other cheek, go the extra mile, and love your enemies. Would it be right to set the bar any lower than perfection in any of those areas? Of course, we are all imperfect but should we not strive for perfection in these areas? Not necessarily to be perfect in the sense of being without sin but more to be perfectly complete, not leave the situation wanting. In the paragraph that verse 48 is found in we are challenged to love our enemies… God’s love is complete not wanting for anything. We need to love complete not leaving anything wanting.

Today I failed, shouldn’t my own son be easy to show complete love to, he certainly isn’t my enemy… leaving nothing wanting. The good news is that tomorrow I will have the chance all over. In anything we do, we do not want to be stagnant and never improve. This also includes our walk with God and all areas of our life. Perfection is the standard in which we aim for. Sure we will fail but we still need to strive for it. With God’s help we will become more and more like Him we will leave less situations wanting for completeness.

We may look at the perfectly decorated house and appreciate it and we may even think we would enjoy living that way. I don’t believe that is the perfection we long for in our spirit. We long for being able to love completely, to show authentic compassion, to not sin in our anger, to be able to turn the other cheek without wanting revenge.

With God’s help I will continue to strive for perfection, and thankfully tomorrow is a new day.

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