(Jesus said) "You therefore must be perfect, as your Heavenly Father is perfect." Matthew 5:48
Pruning may be good for roses and vines and fruit trees, but most people I know don't like to be pruned.
Not so very long ago, in fact, it could have been this week, there was a man who had a lengthy list of illnesses. Doctors? He'd seen a million of them. Tests? He'd been through them all. Medicines? The bag carrying his cures wouldn't fit into the overhead storage compartment of a major airline.
He had resigned himself to living a life of ailments ... until ... one day he received wonderful news. He heard of a doctor who could cure just about anything. When other doctors were confused, this doctor could tell you what was wrong with you.
With high hopes, the man made his appointment.
The examination was an exploration. He was prodded and poked, pinched and punched. Two days later at a return visit, the doctor assessed the man's condition. She said, "My friend, you're a sick man."
He knew he was, but it was nice to have someone confirm his complaints.
The doctor continued, "You can get well again if you follow my advice. This is what I want you to do. I want you to lose about 40, no, make it 45 pounds, start a walking program, get eight hours of sleep each day and eat more dark green vegetables. And you can dispose of your pills in the proper way. You don't need them. That's it."
After his initial shock, the man stammered and pleaded for some kind of potion, some kind of tonic that would make him well. But the doctor stood her ground. "You need a change in your life, not in your medicine."
Looking at humankind's condition, I believe the Lord might readily say, "You don't need a bandage or an aspirin to give you temporary relief; you need a total overhaul in your life and lifestyle." Indeed, the Almighty once told Abraham, "I am God Almighty; walk before Me, and be blameless" (Genesis 17:1b). In His Sermon on the Mount, the Lord Jesus repeated that request when He said, "You therefore must be perfect, as your Heavenly Father is perfect."
Now over the years I've met a few people who were good; one of them even thought he was "pretty perfect." The only problem is pretty perfect isn't good enough. Pretty perfect doesn't fulfill the Lord's divine expectations for His people. That is why the Bible bluntly comments, "There is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins" (Ecclesiastes 7:20).
In God's eyes, even the best specimen that humanity has ever produced still falls far short of the goal, which is precisely why the Heavenly Father sent His Son into the world.
Only Jesus, God's perfect Son, had the capability of resisting temptation and the capacity to avoid every sin. When Jesus became true Man, He began a life during which He did for us what we could never do: He lived a perfect, God-pleasing life, and He did it so all who believed on Him as their Savior might be redeemed.
Now, because of Holy Spirit-given faith in the Savior, we are cleansed of our sins and will, someday, be able to stand before the just Judge and find ourselves declared innocent of any wrongdoing.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, I give thanks that Jesus wasn't pretty perfect; He was completely perfect. Perfectly He fulfilled the Law, and perfectly He declined every temptation to sin. Now because Jesus was completely perfect we are saved. For this I give unending thanks and praise. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries