Monday, June 2, 2014

Be Ye Therefore Perfect

I know a few people...well...a lot of people actually that read the a certain verse and figuratively beat themselves up for failing to meet the requirement. The scripture is found in Matthew 5:48. It says "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect."

There are many of us--myself included--who read that and think "Great, I'll never be good enough." Because how are we to measure up to that?

I have a widget on my phone's home screen that shows me a scripture a day. The other day, that scripture sat for the day on that screen. When I read it, I had the realization that in those 14 words I was missing something. We are taught (especially in the LDS faith) that we will never be perfect. This is what repentance and the atonement are for. But still, that scripture still stings.

And then I found what I have been missing. I wish to share this with you because, perhaps, you are missing it to. The keyword in this scripture that no one seems to catch on is "therefore". Yes, "perfect" appears twice. "Is" appears twice. But what is it about the word "therefore" that makes it so important?

So I looked it up. There are a few definitions or synonyms to "therefore." But none of them are "from this moment." I'll repeat that concept. "Therefore" does not mean "from henceforth and forever", "from this moment on", or "until the day you die."

What does it mean then? The word I found that I felt impressed by was "accordingly", which is defined as "in a way that is appropriate to the particular circumstances." So...our "Father which is in heaven" has a different set of circumstances, a different measuring stick, as to what perfect is.

Spencer W. Kimball once said "We are on the road to perfection." This implies that it's a goal, but not one we're going to accomplish in this life. This is what the atonement is for. To help our shortcomings give us the possibility of perfection.

In Oct 1995, Russel M. Nelson spoke on this in his talk "Perfection Pending". I love this quote from him:

"When comparing one’s personal performance with the supreme standard of the Lord’s expectation, the reality of imperfection can at times be depressing. My heart goes out to conscientious Saints who, because of their shortcomings, allow feelings of depression to rob them of happiness in life.We all need to remember: men are that they might have joy—not guilt trips!"
How many of us throw ourselves into guilt trips because we don't meet this idea of perfection? I know I do. But Elder Nelson adds this caveat that makes me feel like I'm on to something with the word "accordingly."
Our understanding of perfection might be aided if we classify it into two categories. The first could pertain uniquely to this life—mortal perfection. The second category could pertain uniquely to the next life—immortal or eternal perfection.

Yeah, this has been kind of a preachy post. Maybe it's just something I need to remember for myself. I'm not perfect and that's more than okay. And I doubt you're perfect. I could go on, but I don't wish to bore you.

Alien abductions are involuntary, but probings are scheduled.

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