Scripture Reading: Isaiah 30:19-32:20 / 2 Corinthians 13:1-14 / Proverbs 22:17-27
“Nobody’s perfect!” People use this phrase to explain their faults, justify their actions or excuse themselves from any blame. We do live in an imperfect world with imperfect people. At times perfection seems so far beyond us and unreachable that we cease to strive for perfection. Instead we can fall into a trap of complacency, without motivation or goals for growth. We develop a false sense of satisfaction because, “If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.”
In Paul’s concluding remarks to the Corinthians he says, “We are glad whenever we are weak but you are strong; and our prayer is for your perfection.” (2 Corinthians 13:9) Paul’s prayer and purpose for the Corinthians was perfection. He poured out his love to them so they could be filled with Christ’s love. He testified of Christ’s power so they could live with a testimony. He sacrificed himself so they could be whole and complete in Christ.
We do live in a world that has a high definition of “perfection”. We define perfection as something or someone who is flawless or complete. Perfection is reaching a state that is free of defect, where there is no need of improvement. It is true…we live in a flawed world and we have a degenerated nature so we conclude perfection is impossible.
Understanding Paul’s use of the word “perfection” gives us greater insight to Paul’s prayer and God’s design for us. Other Bible versions interpret the original Greek word by using other descriptive words. The New Living Translation uses the word “mature”, The New Life Version uses the words “Strong Christian” and the New King James and New American Standard Bible uses the word “complete”.
Paul’s prayer wasn’t for us to reach a perfection that was unattainable but to live a strong Christian life marked by spiritual maturity and completeness. Paul was not calling them to a lifestyle that was unachievable but to a relational life with Christ that was possible! He wrote to them and addressed their immaturity, carnality, weakness, pride and error but Paul also praised them for their spiritual gifting’s, generous giving and faithfulness.
He taught, rebuked, encouraged, corrected and admonished them for the purpose of, “building you up, not for tearing you down.” (13:10) He writes to them about personal examination (13:5) as an important part in the process of spiritual evaluation and maturity. Our spiritual growth is not limited by God but by us. There is enough grace in Christ, love from The Father and fellowship of The Holy Spirit to bring us to a place of transformational perfection and completeness. As Paul exhorts, “Aim For Perfection!” (13:11)
Pastor James Clark has pastored Calvary Assembly since 1985. He is blessed with his wife Yvonne, six children, two son-in-laws, a beautiful granddaughter and hopefully many more grandchildren to follow!