All my life, I’ve been pushed towards perfection, to be the perfect daughter, the perfect wife, the perfect mother. I see articles about creating the perfect holiday meal or the perfect exercise plan to have the perfect body, oh, and the perfect hairstyle to complement my perfect make-up. The first question I have for these people is, who defines perfection?
So as always, when I have a question about a word, I turn to the experts. After combing through a number of websites, I have compiled the following.
Perfect as a verb; “make completely free from faults, or as close to such a condition as possible.”
Perfect as an adjective; “having all the required or desirable qualities.”
Perfect as a noun “something is complete without defect or blemish.”
Then there was an obsolete definition of perfect meaning ‘mature’.
So, who determines the faults, the qualities or the conditions of perfection? Okay, so some parameters are obvious, a perfect square, for instance. If all the sides are not equal nor all four angles 90 degrees, then it wouldn’t be a square.
But not everything is as well defined as geometric shapes. Does an artist compare himself to other artists or does he create his own work, being as perfect as he can in his own right. A musician may technically be perfect, but what emotion or feeling does he or she bring to piece? Perhaps technical perfection is not enough.
Do others provide the perfect standard for my own journey? When I compare myself to others, I am disillusioned, discouraged and distracted from the actual reason I was given to live, to become a human being. So what do I use to define perfection?
Matthew 5:48 “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
Okay, so now I’ve gone from perfect makeup to, what, perfect infinity? How can I possibly be perfect the way God is perfect?
Eventually I began to realize perfection does not come all at once. When a seed is planted, it is perfect seed at its stage of development, the shoot is a perfect shoot, the sapling a perfect sapling, the blossom a perfect blossom, and the fruit is perfect at each stage of its development.
Of course, the development of the seed, the tree and the fruit are dependent upon outside forces. I have seen rotten fruit picked from perfect trees and perfect fruit picked from rotten trees. I have seen perfect trees produce no fruit. Every stage of development can be influenced.
The seed, the plant has no choice in its response to its circumstances, but I do. I can choose to be perfect in whatever circumstances, in whatever stage of development I find myself. I am to be perfect but I can only do that when keeping my eyes on Christ.
“But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto His eternal glory in Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a little, will Himself perfect you and confirm you and establish you” (1 Peter 5:10).
Perfection requires suffering. Any athlete will tell you that. Developmental goals are set, eachd one stretching the athlete a little bit more. Other activities are put aside as distractions from achieving the goal.
“But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. ” (Gal 6:14).
As a follower of Christ, my ultimate goal is to become a human being and the only way I can do that is to keep Christ and Him crucified ever before me. By doing that, I am not distracted by the things of the world, nor is the world concerned with me. If I am successful, daily I should begin to see the fruits of the spirit,: charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, modesty and self control, the signs of perfection emerge.
I can not expect to achieve perfection all at once, but to be only as perfect as I can at each step of my journey to full humanity. Perhaps the best definition of perfect is the obsolete one, the one meaning “mature”.