Being perfect like God means to be all loving and forgiving

Drug treatment court a second chance for youth
April 2, 2009
Rosalie "Rose" Billiot
April 6, 2009
Drug treatment court a second chance for youth
April 2, 2009
Rosalie "Rose" Billiot
April 6, 2009

One of the most misunderstood scripture passages is Jesus’ instruction in Matthew’s gospel, “Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matt 5:48)

What we forget sometimes is that Jesus was a Middle East Hebrew whose thought patterns were much different from our own. We in the West have inherited a Greek mind.

We lead with the left side of our brain that is more logical, analytical, scientific, detail oriented, following orderly patterns, based in reality, and is practical and safe.

People from the Middle East lead with the right side of their brains that is more creative, incorporates feeling, looks at the “big picture,” uses the imagination, symbols and images, looks at possibilities, and is risk taking.

When we hear the word “perfect,” the definition that usually comes to our Western minds is, “Free from any flaw or faultless.”

When we hear Jesus’ admonition to “Be perfect,” we either dismiss it as being beyond our reach, or we enter into compulsive behavior to reach this impossible goal.

For the Hebrew mind, perfection means complete, together, all loving, whole, integrating all aspects of life – acting, thinking and loving like God.

If “God is love” as St. John tells us, then we want to become all loving as well. This is our vocation. This is our way of life.

Unfortunately, some people turn out to be compulsive perfectionists. This may be the result of messages that authority figures instilled in them when they were growing up.

They probably internalized high standards and were afraid to make a mistake because they would not be loved. By trying to do everything perfect, they hope to avoid punishment and earn the love of a rejecting parent.

Since being perfect is impossible (free from any flaw), an individual will often look at their life as a failure.

They feel they can never “measure up” which leads to low self-esteem, anxiety and depression. They can also feel that God does not really love them since they have failed to be the perfect person that they are expected to be.

Another type of perfectionist is the person who sets unrealistically high standards for others and is frequently disappointed and angry if these people fail to meet these standards.

They are usually very critical of others and want things done their way. They have difficulty delegating tasks and often become “workaholic.” Their difficulty in compromising affects their ability to live and work peacefully with others.

Perfectionists need to realize that it is all right to be a human being in need of help. God does not demand perfection. God knows we will make mistakes.

Our loving God is an all loving, forgiving God who takes us as we are. What God really wants us to do is continue our journey of becoming a more loving person.

Perfectionists also have to be in touch with their negative thinking. Tom Blandi reminds us, “Our attitudes control our lives. Attitudes are a secret power working 24 hours a day for good or bad. It is of paramount importance that we know how to harness and control this great force.” Perfectionists need to change their negative thinking and attitudes into positive ways of looking at life.

Perfectionists must also let go of their rigid way of thinking and acting. They must learn that a problem generally has more than one solution. They must learn what Alexander Pope told us many years ago, “To err is human, to forgive divine.”

All humans make mistakes. When we forgive others, we are acting like God.

Maybe the hardest things for us humans is to forgive ourselves. Maybe that is where we need to start.

Let’s become like our God who is all loving and all forgiving.