“Mom,” called Lori from her bedroom, “as soon as you’re done with that computer program, could you come here a second?”
“Sure thing,” Mother called back, and shortly she appeared in the doorway.
Lori smiled but wore a puzzled expression. “Listen to this,” she said as she pointed to her Bible. “It says here in Matthew 5:48, ‘You shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.’ How can that be? Nobody’s perfect.”
“Well,” Mother said, “let’s see when Jesus said those words. Maybe we can discover what He was trying to teach.” Mother pulled up a chair and looked back to the beginning of the chapter.
“Jesus had been teaching His disciples how to be happy,” Mother continued. “He was telling them that to live happy and successful lives on this earth there are certain ways to relate to God and to the people around us. Those listening to him on the mountain heard Him say that sin begins in the heart, so we first need to ask God to fill our hearts with His love and crowd out the bad feelings we sometimes have. He taught that love is the foundation of His kingdom—love for God and love for other people. He said that He had come to this earth to save the world from sin. He came to demonstrate the love of God, what God is really like, as well as the way to live a perfect life.”
“I don’t know,” Lori said. “I think it’s impossible to be perfect all the time.”
Mother nodded, “Paul, one of God’s special messengers, seemed to have the same problems as we do. He said, ‘Those things I want to do, I don’t do, and the things I don’t want to do, those I do.’ ”
“Yeah,” Lori grinned. “I know how that feels.”
“I think all of us do.” Mother laughed. “We want to do good things, and we don’t want to do bad things. Somehow, it’s so much easier to do bad things over and over. There’s a battle that goes on inside of us. It’s the same battle that Adam and Eve lost when they decided to do things their own way rather than God’s way.”
“It’s all very confusing,” Lori wrinkled her forehead. “You said Jesus showed us the way to live a perfect life; but can anyone really live that way? I mean, the Bible says that everybody sins, doesn’t it?”
“Listen, Lori,” Mother turned to look into her eyes, “Jesus and His Father knew, that if Adam and Eve sinned in the garden, Satan would keep trying to get people to live his way, disobeying God’s commandments ever after. So God and His Son planned a way of escape for all who would live on this earth, all those whom Satan claimed as his because they would do as he said. The plan was that Jesus would come to this earth as a man and grow up amid all the same temptations that we each have. He would depend so completely on the Holy Spirit’s help and His Father’s power that He would be able to live a perfect life. He would conquer Satan and reclaim the earth.
“Not only that, but He’d also die the eternal death God told Adam and Eve that they would die if they disobeyed.
In other words, He would live a life for them and die a death for them, so they could live forever with Him. He would use His life of righteousness to cover their sins. He would use His death to pay their penalty. He calls this act covering us with His robe of righteousness. And He gives this robe to us as a gift, if we ask for it. Then God looks on us as perfect, because all He sees is Jesus’ perfection there. Our sins are all covered up. He doesn’t even remember them.”
“But what happens then?” Lori asked. “I don’t know anybody that all of a sudden gets to be good and never does anything bad again.”
“Well, Lori,” Mother smiled, “do you remember reading how Jesus went out early in the morning to a quiet place to pray?”
“You know, that’s how Jesus kept close to His Father. Besides, He trusted God to give Him the power He needed to teach, to heal or to meet whatever needs the people had. He said that He did all these good things, because God lived in Him through faith. God wants to live in us, too, and give the help we need in growing more like Him. God loved us so much that He was willing to give His Son to save us. If we believe that Jesus loved us so much that He was willing to give His life for us, it makes us love Him so much that we’ll want to obey Him, doesn’t it? And He will give us power to do so.”
“Yes, it really does, Mom.” Lori said. “And we know we can trust Him to do for us what is impossible for us to do for ourselves,” Mother said. “He alone can save us. We can’t save ourselves, and there’s nothing we can do to earn salvation. We must accept Jesus’ righteousness and His perfection every day as our own.”
‘Wow, Mom, that sounds just like your computer,” Lori said.
“Well,” Mother hesitated. “I don’t know about that. God is kind and loving, but a computer is just a machine.”
“Oh, no,” Lori laughed, “I didn’t mean it that way. I just meant that when you want to change a word on your computer, you erase the old word and put in the new one. God erases our sin and puts in His righteousness.”
“Oh, that’s a good way to think about it,” Mother agreed. “God replaces our badness with His goodness. We must trust Him to forgive us every time we sin and to help us do right. That way we will be secure in His love and experience His salvation every day.”
Mother and Lori smiled at each other. Knowing what they did about Jesus and His love gave them a special glow of happiness.
“Well, back to my trusty computer,” said Mother. “I think I’ll like working on it even better, now!”
Do you want God to cover your sins and mistakes with Jesus’ righteousness? Do you see now that it is possible to be perfect in His eyes? He wants you to trust Him to lead you every day in His ways and to make you more like Himself. He wants you in His kingdom. He wants to give you His free gifts of salvation, righteousness and obedience. Why don’t you talk to Him just now and ask for His perfection in your life?
Find what Proverbs 23:7 says about our hearts. Read about Paul’s problem with his behavior in Romans 7:19. God’s Ten Commandment law shows our duty to Him and our duty to others in Exodus 20:1 2-1 7. Read Matthew 22:37-40 to discover how Jesus summarized these Ten Commandments.
Now that you understand what God means by perfection, learn this verse.
“Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.” Matthew 5:48