Jesus said that we are supposed to be perfect. Yikes! That’s a tall bill. Who can do that? Do you know anyone who is perfect? No, I didn’t think so. Yet Jesus said we should be.
Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect. (Matthew 5:48)
The thing is, God’s definition of perfection is different from ours. We think we would be perfect if we never made a single mistake, never said the wrong thing, and every single project we attempted came out, well, perfectly. But we fail and fail and beat ourselves up because our humanity gets in the way.
And that’s where the definition of perfection diverges. What we believe and what God believes are two different things. See, He knows we’re human, believe it or not. He has no expectations that we will be “perfect” in everything we do. He’s not as interested in that kind of perfection as you may think. God is more interested in our heart.
In the scripture quoted above, Jesus was talking about loving our enemies. That’s not at all what we think of as living perfect lives, but it’s everything to God. His idea of being perfect is being changed by the Holy Spirit to become more and more like Him.
Can you suddenly start loving your enemies? Probably not. So how do you become perfect in the way God is asking you to? Seek first the kingdom of God. Everything you need in life, and everything God is asking of you is in Him. Discover the Lover of your soul. Delight yourself in Him. Be hungry to know Him more. Spend time in worship and praise. Be still and listen with your heart.
The more time you spend in His presence, the more you are changed by Him. As you are changed by Him, and become able to love your enemies, you become more and more perfect in your spirit. Your heart responses become like His. You begin to see glimpses of His ideas and ways that are clearly not yours. His perfection radiates through His love. This is not a sudden transformation that happens in our heart. We learn line upon line. We grow from glory to glory. That’s His plan. That’s He way. And don’t try to measure yourself to anyone. Your journey is personal and your lessons are for you alone. When you put yourself completely in His hands, perfection is happening. Thank Him for it.
There is such a danger to arrogance. We are essentially selfish people. It’s our natural instinct to think of ourselves all the time. But it’s just as dangerous to consider the opinions of others. How many times have you made decisions because of how you thought you’d be seen by other people? Think about the clothes you wear, the music you listen to, friends you hang out with. We can be absolutely controlled by what we think others will approve of. And it’s wrong.
There is only one opinion that matters, and that is God’s. His opinion of you is given in love. He loves you, end of story. Take it to the bank. You are loved. There is no higher opinion than that. The opinions of people are fickle, but God’s is eternal. It is stead–fast! Meaning firm and dependable. Knowing that you are loved and that you do not have to live and die by the opinions of other people is absolutely freeing.
Be who you were meant to be, not what you think others want you to be. It may be hard to do if those other people happen to be your parents, with very strong opinions. Listen to your heart and trust God. That’s the key. Defiance in itself is a bad thing. If you are not hearing God, then nothing you do will make you happy anyway.
And what happens when you begin to do what you love and start to get praise for it? Be careful! That’s where arrogance can slip in and take root. There has to be a balance between doing what is excellent and walking in humility. Do all things as unto the Lord. If you boast in anything, boast in God. He loves an excellent spirit, but He also hates arrogance. There is beauty in being excellent with grace. Ask God to teach you how to do that. Know when to keep your mouth closed. Know when to give God the glory. You don’t have to deny that you had anything to do with doing well, just go to your quiet time and give the praise to God. If what you’re doing is all about you, then you’ll want more praise for yourself. Seek to be humble and be excellent in what you do. Public opinion, good or bad, shouldn’t matter.
When we have the Bible available to us, we have no excuse for not obeying it. The problem is, we are so familiar with it that we forget to live it. Take for instance, Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Mat 5:3) Another way to look at that is, if you are not poor in spirit, you have no part of the kingdom of heaven.
Being poor in spirit does not mean being spiritually destitute. Think in terms of opposites. Poor in spirit is opposite of arrogance, pride, and selfishness. We have to be told to be poor in spirit because our natural tendency is to be selfish. We are born “me first”. To live counter to that inclination takes work and thoughtfulness. Are you doing that? Do you have an interest in living in God’s kingdom, that very place of salvation? Then you’d better consider your attitude in life. God smiles on humility. If the Son of God, the magnificent Son, could be born in a barn, then we can live humbly before Him.
That, however, does not mean that you lose out on anything. Jesus said to take the lowly seat and you will be invited by others to sit in a higher place. (Luke 14:10) Bless are those who are poor in spirit. Blessed! What God gives is highly valued. Don’t assume that what you can acquire for yourself is better than what God will favor you with. You’d be wrong.
Pay attention to the scripture and consider how you live it. You may have an eternity to wish you did.
The kingdom of heaven is to me the greatest mystery of the universe. No matter which I side I look at, there are a dozen other facets to try to piece together and it makes for a challenging experience.
The disciples thought the kingdom of heaven would conquer the Roman occupation. The ruling of kings was all that they knew. What Jesus offered was, and still is, baffling. This kingdom is transcendental. It’s a living thing. It grows, not like a church grows because more people attend, it grows like a presence in the Spirit. It is a place in the heart that connects to the corresponding place in other believers. It makes a connection place for Jesus to come. Where two or more are gathered in my name…
- The kingdom of God is like a man scattering seed, some will receive it and some will not.
- It is like a tiny mustard seed that grows to provide shade and shelter.
- It is like the innocence of little children.
- It is the inheritance of the poor in spirit.
- It is like leaven– a small touch of the kingdom can grow into a greater presence.
- It is like the great supper where the poor and neglected are honored over those who do not value it.
- It is righteousness, peace and joy.
- It is not in word, but power.
The Spirit of God is within us to accomplish His will on earth. And to accomplish His will, we need to be poor in spirit, like a little child, yet speak in power, with righteousness, peace, and joy. The kingdom of God is complex, yet stunningly simple. And to become a citizen of this kingdom, you must let go of your humanity. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. (2Cor 5:17) A citizen of the kingdom is a new kind of creation — human with God living in him. When God moves in, He brings His kingdom with Him.
The disciples did not preach a salvation message to people. They preached the kingdom of God. Living in the kingdom is not about avoiding hell. It is righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. It is a way of life, a destination, a presence, and the hope of a lost world.
Your kingdom come, your will be done…
The natural outcome of trusting a good God is blessing. He blesses all the time, we’re just not in the habit of receiving it well. In fact, we can often block it unknowingly. There’s even some danger to receiving blessing. You may have promises that you stand on. You may expect that because of your faith, God will promote you and bless you, but you may not be ready to handle it.
The secret to receiving blessing is to set everything that’s dear to you aside. All your hopes and dreams. All your promises and needs. Set them aside, don’t throw them away. You’re just not ready yet. Direct your full attention to your heart. Your heart must be so full of love for God that nothing that happens in your life matters more than your relationship with Him.
Ask Him for more understanding of His love for you. Ask Him for revelation and knowledge of His love. The more you grasp how much He loves you, the more you can love Him back. Your gifts can be handled dangerously if you don’t love completely. You can get in the way of what God wants to do if love does not come first. Go back and read I Corinthians 13.
Learn to love God and learn to love other people. Be honest with yourself. If you know that you do not love, ask God to fill you and change you. Press into that and you will be more responsible with the blessings that follow.
This may come as a shock, but you are not your mother, your father, your sister, your brother, your pastor, or your best friend. The mold that is you won’t fit another person’s mold. Stop trying to be someone else.
The you that God made is unique. Your personality and gifts are unique. They won’t work with another template. But the only way they will work according to the great plan that God designed for you is if you stop looking back. You are a new creation in Christ. The old you is dead. Stop digging him up to look at all the stuff he did. That’s ancient history now. You’re not a kingdom archaeologist, you’re a kingdom trailblazer.
You connect with your unique plan when you turn your heart to God. Let Him walk you through the steps of your life. Listen to His voice in the quiet places. Let His word soak into your spirit and affect your thoughts. Ask Him for revelation on what that plan looks like. It’s probably not as bizarre and wild as you think. It’s probably got a lot to do with what you already love.
Be the you you were meant to be, not the person you admire that you will never be. You are blessed by God in a way that only you can live. If you don’t, there will be people who will never see God because you weren’t there to show them. That’s how important it is for you to be real.
When you are filled with the presence of God, you become a portal to heaven for everyone around you. How many people do you work with, go to school with, hang out with? Do they all know Jesus? No, but you do. You may be the only connection those people have with heaven.
You carry the kingdom of God with you where ever you go. You’re not just an ambassador, you’re a connection to the eternal, living God. Walk worthy of this calling. If you refuse to honor Christ is your life, He has no obligation to honor you. Your response to stress and pressure should show others that there is another way to live that they can have. You’re life should be so different that it’s obvious that you march to a different drummer, and the sound of that drum should make people want it for themselves.
When you live in an attitude of constant praise and worship, you extend the atmosphere of heaven everywhere you go. It may not be obvious, but others will feel it in their spirit. The more you praise, the wider your portal becomes. Imagine walking into a room and changing the atmosphere by your presence, and Who you bring with you. It’s time to have some fun.