Few verses have brought about as much spiritual insecurity as Matthew 5:48. It is a call to something that we all know that we cannot achieve. It’s a call to perfection. How is it that we might be able to achieve this perfection that only God has exhibited when we have a nature so inclined to sin?
As we look at the verse we see the all important “therefore.” As all Bible scholars will tell you, when you see a therefore, you need to know what it is there for. Here it serves to summarize the antitheses that Jesus has spoken in regards to the law and the spirit of those laws. This verse is then our challenge now that Jesus has given us a new understanding of the law and God’s will for our lives.
As a challenge, it is certainly not an easy one. We are called to constantly be pursuing perfection. Commentator Michael Wilkins describes this as a call to “restful dissatisfaction.” We are to be dissatisfied with our current moral failings as we strive to live in light of God’s character. However, we also rest in the fact that Jesus has imparted his righteousness to us and has covered all of our sin. This means that we don’t pursue perfection because it will save us, but we pursue perfection as a response to God’s work in our lives. We do it because we know God and trust that God has the best for us.
So how do we pursue perfection? We try our best to demonstrate the character of God. We love with God’s love. We see and treat people as God’s love demands. We honor the truths found in Scripture through our obedience to them. In order to do this, we must learn God’s word and learn how to apply it to our lives. This is the basis of what we call sanctification.
We are not perfect. We probably do not go a day with a clean record when it comes to sin, but we don’t give up. As we pursue perfection, there are areas in our lives where we need to be transformed by God. Spend some time today asking yourself if you are satisfied with the sins in your life or if you have a restful dissatisfaction. Pray that you will find peace in the grace you have received and encouragement as you pursue the perfection that we are called to pursue.