Sometimes, we feel like we should be perfect, having no faults and never doing anything wrong. We might read James 1:4, which says, “For when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing,” and then throw up our hands in frustration and say, “But I’ve tried lots of times before, and I just can’t do it. I give up—I’ll never be perfect!”
Perfection is a tricky concept. Try thinking about it this way: When a baby arrives, people often say, “She’s perfect,” as they cuddle and coo over the new addition to their community. But why? Babies can’t do what adults can do, yet people describe them as “perfect.” But if a baby were to stay like a newborn for six months and not grow at all, people would be worried. So, when we talk about babies being perfect, we often mean they’re just right for their age.
Let’s look at James 1:4 again. It uses the word “perfect” in a similar way. It’s not saying Christians never do anything wrong. The fact is, only Jesus meets God’s standard for perfection, which is why we need to put our trust in Him to have a relationship with God. Even though we’ll keep struggling with sin until the day Jesus returns and makes all things new, verses like James 1:4 give us hope, saying that as we grow in our relationship with Jesus, we mature spiritually. So, to be a “perfect” Christian doesn’t mean we never mess up; it means we grow and learn from our failures, and we patiently trust God to continue shaping us to be more like Jesus.
If we’re perfect in that sense, it doesn’t mean we’ll never sin, maybe by losing our temper for example, but it does mean we’ll learn to say we’re sorry when we do. It means we’ll learn to depend on God to help us be self-controlled when we feel upset. As we grow spiritually, we can remember that Jesus is walking with us every step of the way. And we can remember the hope He gives us in Philippians 1:6, “God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” • A. W. Smith
• Have you ever wondered how you could possibly be perfect or holy as God is (Matthew 5:48)? In one sense, you are already perfect if you know Jesus as your Savior because He has given you His perfection and forgiven your sins! But God also says you are “being made holy” (Hebrews 10:14). We become more like Jesus as we grow in our relationship with Him. What might it look like for us to be patient with ourselves and other Christians as we learn and grow together?
He forever made perfect those who are being made holy. Hebrews 10:14b (NLT)