The day that I married my husband was, up to that point, the happiest day of my life! We had seven months from the night he proposed until the day that we walked down the aisle, and we made the most of it. We spent hours upon hours working through wedding details. We sketched our design ideas, hired professional musicians, and curated the menu. As far as we knew, everything was perfect.
The wonderful wedding day finally arrived! Eric and I made sure that we and our attendants looked great in our coordinated outfits. Everything was running like clockwork, until the phones started to ring. We had been a little confused that the church was only about halfway full, when we had expected a full house. We soon learned, to our chagrin, that half of our wedding guests had received invitations with the correct address. The other half had received invitations with an address that sent them about 20 minutes away from the wedding location. The happiest day of my life turned out to be one of the most embarrassing. I still cringe when I think about it. Thankfully, our guests were gracious and forgave us for the error. I learned a big lesson that day: I cannot do anything perfectly despite my best efforts.
In His wisdom, God understands the word “perfect” differently than we often do. While our idea of “perfect” usually implies flawlessness, God looks at it another way. In Matthew 5:48, Jesus says, “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” The word “perfect” in this context, means “complete” (Strong’s Concordance). For context, Jesus was preaching the well-known “Sermon on the Mount,” and He had just spoken to the crowd that they should love their enemies. He reminded them that even unbelievers love their friends. For Christ-followers, there is a different and higher expectation. They, and we, are expected to behave in ways that are impossible on our own. We desperately need God to work in our hearts and help us be His kind of perfect. We are complete when we are in Him.
The irony is that the harder we try to make something perfect on our own, the more other aspects of our lives become imperfect. I have found that, when I try to focus on one area of my life, the other areas always suffer. If I throw myself into being a great mom, I tend to unintentionally ignore my husband. If I get on an exercise kick, I don’t have as much time for tending to my home, reading, or spending time with my family. If I decide that I need to be a better homemaker, I might not have as much time to care for my health. While all of these areas are important, trying to be perfect in any one of them results in neglect of the others.
God knows that we can never be perfect on our own. The very fact that God the Father sent Christ to die for our sin is clear evidence that we cannot ever be perfect without Him. If we belong to Christ, God the Father sees perfection when He looks at us. However, it is not our perfection. As we live our lives on Earth, God uses our imperfections and weaknesses to show His own perfection and strength.
There is no nice way of saying it. We are all a mess. None of us are perfect, and even our mental concepts of “perfection” are flawed. There have been times when my idea of “perfect” was simply “How well can I hide all of the flaws?” If I wanted to take a picture of my children, I immediately looked for the cleanest corner of the house (if you follow my social media accounts, you might notice that we take a lot of outdoor photos). Why do I do this? What am I trying to prove? Am I going to get more opportunities to share Christ with others because my house looks clean on Instagram?
2 Corinthians 12:9, “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”
The Apostle Paul learned that God’s grace was enough to overcome the “thorn in the flesh” that presented constant challenges to him. That grace is enough to overcome our imperfections, too. We do not exist to garner praise for our perfection. We are here to point all eyes to our perfect Savior.