Friday, September 9, 2011

Perfect and Holy Living

Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:48 NAS)

Matthew 5:48My parents set high hopes on me even while I was still a little boy. Their wish was for me to someday become a learned and well accomplished man people look up to. Sadly though, I failed to live up to their great expectations, for I was merely an average student throughout elementary to high school.

Like me, some of us may be struggling to live up to the expectations of others, or even our own. We may feel disappointed, disgruntled or downcast when we fall short of or fail to meet expectations. As Christians, we may also at times struggle with certain expectations from the Bible, like counting all things loss for the sake of knowing Christ (Philippians 3:8), and living perfect and holy lives (Matthew 5:48; 1 Peter 1:16).

I know of some people who hesitate to receive Jesus as Lord because they are afraid they may not live up to the holy lives expected of Christians. This frame of thought is perhaps derived from the misconception that Christians conduct themselves in the best of behaviors to live perfect and holy lives by their own effort.

It is true that because God is perfect and holy, we ought also to be perfect and holy (Matthew 5:48; 1 Peter 1:16). But the Bible also says there is none righteous, not even one (Romans 3:10), so how is it possible we are expected to live perfect and holy lives?

The answer is in the finished work of Christ (1 John 2:2). Our Lord’s death on the cross has become for us our righteousness, holiness, and redemption (1 Corinthians 1:30). By His death and resurrection, Jesus has achieved for us what we can never achieve by our own effort. For it is by grace we have been saved through faith, not of ourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of our own works or effort, that no one may boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Are we weak in living out Christ in our lives or hesitating to receive the Lord because we fear we are unable to live up to expectations? If we are, there is no need to, for the Lord is our helper; we need not be afraid (Hebrews 13:6). He will never desert us, nor will He ever forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). Even if we have to suffer persecution or walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we need not fear. The Lord is with us, His rod and His staff is a guide and comfort to us (Psalm 23:4). Why should we be weak or give up our salvation because of fear?

Let us therefore not be reluctant to take on the challenge to live holy lives, for the yoke from Christ is easy and the burden is light (Matthew 11:30). Our Lord is gentle and humble in heart; He will give us rest for our souls (Matthew 11:29). Even though we may not be perfect in keeping every instruction from the Bible, we need not be ashamed, for it is for this purpose we labor, striving according to the power which is mightily working within us (Colossians 1:29).

The word of the cross may to those who are perishing be foolishness, but to us who are being saved, we know it is the power of God (1 Corinthians 1:18). Rather than dwell in weakness or be a bystander, therefore, let us enter into the house of our God, for a day in His courts is better than a thousand outside (Psalm 84:10).

Dear Lord, strengthen us that we may in You live our lives holy and perfect, reflecting Your power working mightily within us, rather than displaying good behavior by our own effort or through pretense. Help us not be afraid to step out to honor Your holy name in everything we do Lord even if it means to be persecuted or disadvantaged as a result. Guide us Lord where we fail or fall short that we may strive towards perfection for the right cause and reasons.

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