Perfection; May 10, 2023

Psalm 119:96 To all perfection I see a limit;
but your commands are boundless.

Perfection is an interesting thing. On the one hand we find it exquisite, but then it can become boring. Likewise, different people can have completely different concepts of perfection. For some people, mathematics is the highest expression of perfection, but other people want nothing to do with it. Physical beauty, in people or animals, can seem perfect indeed, but experience certainly teaches us that it is fleeting. And again there, the standards by which such perfection is judged vary widely with culture and era. As the Psalmist declares, we have to get into the realm of the divine to really grasp the idea of perfection. The closest physical parallel I can think of is astronomy, where better telescopes keep showing us more and more with incredible beauty, teaching us the concept of infinity. As Isaiah proclaimed and Peter later quoted, “The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever.” (Isaiah 40:8, 1 Peter 1:24-25) We need the awareness of God’s perfection so that we won’t get lazy and self-satisfied. That’s why Jesus told us, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48) The longer we live the better we understand how impossible that is, but that also teaches us the magnificence of the Gospel. It is totally impossible for us, but “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21) Walking with God is a continuous acknowledgement of our own imperfection and an acceptance of the perfection that He offers us in His Son. It is totally grace, so there is absolutely no room for pride. (Ephesians 2:8-10)

This is something that on the one hand I have known for as long as I can remember, and on the other hand I am learning day by day. Perfection is always desirable, but on this earth it is at best fleeting. I am reminded of a tribe of Indigenous people in Panama who weave exquisite blankets, but they always include a deliberate imperfection in the design because only God is perfect. I have no need to be deliberate in my imperfections, because I have plenty of them! As the Bible tells us in many places, we become like what we worship, what we fix our attention on. My desire and my goal is to be so focused on my Lord that I increasingly reflect Him, even as Paul said. (2 Corinthians 3:18)

Father, thank You for this reminder. Often I’m painfully aware of my imperfections! Help me indeed rest, relax, and rejoice in the assurance that, as impossible as perfection is for me, it is Your natural state of being, and You have made me Yours. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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