Pursuit for Perfection
Billions of people have lived on this planet, and not one of them has ever been perfect, except Jesus. Romans 3:23, "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;" Does this mean we should just give up since it seems impossible?
No. That is the point. It is impossible without God. Mark 10:27, "And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible." That is why we were given the law. It shows us that we cannot keep it and cannot earn salvation. We must depend on Jesus' sacrifice on that cross for our salvation.
One of my college roommates was a descendant of JP Morgan. He was in law school and was determined to be number one in his class. Part of his study routine involved a technique for memorizing the large amount of information required for each subject. He would break the subject into the main elements, usually 5 to 7 for each class. Then, he would write a paragraph summarizing each element. Next, he would summarize each paragraph with a single sentence and produce a single word to summarize the sentence. Finally, he would take the first letter of the sentences and make a word. That single word would be the key to that whole class, as he could then expand it back into the sentences and paragraphs.
Jesus showed us the same process as He gave us a single word to summarize the law and the prophets: love. Galatians 5:14, "For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself."
He then broke that one sentence into two commandments, Matthew 22:37-39, "Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself."
Of course, these two commandments summarize the Ten Commandments God gave to Moses. The first summarizes the first four commandments, and the second summarizes the final six.
Then, Jesus takes those Ten Commandments and shows in the Be-Attitudes that they could be expanded into an infinite number of commandments, which are unnecessary if we would just follow His single word summary in Galatians 5:14. In Matthew 5:21, "Ye have heard that it was said of them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire." He tells us that the sixth commandment, Exodus 20:13, "Thou shalt not kill." means more than just killing. It means we should not be angry with anyone because anger can lead us to kill.
He also teaches us that Exodus 20:14, "Thou shalt not commit adultery." could be expanded to include our thoughts and imagination. Matthew 5:27-28, "Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart." Our thoughts and imaginations left unchecked can lead us away from our marriage vows.
So, like my college roommate, God uses a process of teaching us to obey one word, which would save us from the imaginations of our minds. We only need to ask ourselves: would our thoughts lead us to actions demonstrating our love for others? If not, we should change the focus of our thoughts to more loving ones.
Ultimately, this life is about learning to love like Jesus. Putting others first leads to a community where everyone is taken care of. This is the church Jesus is creating, and it is in stark contrast to the individualism that is growing in our country.
We don't need to pursue perfection, we just need to love like Jesus, and the rest will take care of itself.
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