Be Perfect | Sermon on the Mount

Welcome to Real Life. What does perfection look like? 

Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.[1]

Jesus gave this command in his Sermon on the Mount. But, no one is perfect. So how can I live this out? What is God's idea of perfection?

For years, I battled perfectionism. (I still do at 
times.) I keenly felt my imperfections. I felt “less than,” like I wasn't quite as good as everyone else. Because I misinterpreted Jesus' words, I let them fuel an unhealthy drive for perfection. I tried to look flawless: I didn't drink or smoke or swear. I dressed well. I kept a clean house. I was always at church. I prayed and studied and volunteered. I attempted to fulfill everyone’s expectations.

Yet the harder I worked towards perfection on the outside, the harder my heart grew on the inside. I was slowly evolving into a Pharisee, a hypocrite. Instead of “less than,” I began to think I was “more than.” Who else was trying so hard? Who else was serving to exhaustion? I focused on other’s faults to elevate my opinion of myself.

I sincerely thought I was on the road to “being perfect.” But, I was sincerely wrong. One morning as I headed outside for my daily walk, God revealed to me an image of my heart: 

Like the Grinch, my heart had shriveled two sizes too small. I used to laugh at this picture, but not that day. That day, tears flowed as I walked the neighborhood. I grieved over who I had become. I prayed a simple prayer. I continue to pray it to this day:

Lord, change my heart. Expand my capacity to love. Give me a beautiful, perfect heart like yours.

What does it mean to “be perfect, as my heavenly Father is perfect”? Well, I've learned that it doesn't mean to look perfect on the outside.

The LORD does not look at the things man looks at.
Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.[2]
After all Jesus lived a perfect live. Still, many considered him far from perfect. The religious leaders of his day thought he was a nut, a radical, a rebel. He didn't conform to societal expectations. Jesus hung out with tax collectors and sinners (because he came to seek and save the lost). His disciples weren't seminary graduates, but simple fishermen, a bit rough around the edges (but men who were purely devoted to God). 

Yet on the inside, Jesus owned a perfect heart of love. He walked in perfect step with the Father. He was full of grace and truth. His heart perfectly reflected God's heart. That's what perfection is all about. 

I have a long, long way to go to reach that beautiful, perfect heart. But at least now I’m on the right road! 

[1] Matthew 5:48
[2] 1 Samuel 16:7b


  1. Hi,
    Great article. Not only you have a long ways to go, but me also. It is so easy to get caught up in doing things for the mission, or completing a goal where you forget the most essential thing in life is to love. 1 Corinthians 13 is one of my favourite chapters in the Bible. I especially love the ending of Chapter 13 where Paul wrote, the gift of love is the greatest gift. Jesus set the example. He had a heart of love and I believe that people who truly love are next to God's heart. They are not perfect. They may be a Abraham, a David, a Moses, a Hannah, or a Ruth, and they make mistakes and sometimes grave mistakes, but he or she has a heart of love. And I can hear God speaking saying to any person who reaches out to love as he spoke to Moses, "You have found grace in my sight and I know you by name." This promise, I believe follows people who love.
    Thank you my dear friend. This article has encouraged me today and strengthen my hope as well as my faith in a God that never forgets.
    Love you.

    1. Hi Patricia,
      Yes, I can easily get caught up in doing and forget about loving! I love Moses' promise that you quoted. I'm going to hold that in my heart tonight. Thanks for sharing, friend! Love you!

  2. I always enjoy your posts Peggi. The comment on the last one didn't take so hope this does.

    We are all human and none of us can be perfect, all we can do is pray that God fills our hearts with love and forgiveness. I was just thinking this morning, how it seems that everywhere you look there is heartache. We can't turn or backs from it, and yet even hearing all the horrible things that are happening here, and around the world it gets a little depressing. I was thinking of postponing my bible study and prayer this morning, but decided that was the wrong move. And so, after I read the bible, a few other study books of authors I'm reading, and prayed, He's here again with his love.

  3. I'm glad your comment came through! I appreciate it, Kathleen.

    It is so easy to get caught up in negative things. (That's why I appreciate your gift of encouragement so much!) I'm glad the Lord got your heart turned around today. :) He loves us so much and has so many good things for us.

  4. So well said, and honestly presented, Peggi. I was once a perfectionist also. As I learned how wrong it was, I used the phrase, "trying too hard" to get myself out of it and back toward grace.

  5. Hi Ellen,
    Hooray - you were able to leave a comment! Thanks so much for your kind words. :)


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