“Be ye perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect,” Matthew 5:48.
When we think of perfection, we might think this is an expectation of us, especially when used in a context such as this. If we think we are going to be like our heavenly Father and assume his perfection, we are certainly setting an unrealistic ideal for ourselves and others.
If we read this same passage in Luke’s Gospel, however, we find a very different explanation of the word ‘perfect.’
Luke’s Gospel, you see, does not use the word ‘perfect,’ but rather the word, ‘compassionate.’ Matthew was most likely Jewish, and so when he wrote about being perfect, he intended us to know this would be likened to the most perfect thing he knew: God Himself.
Luke was most likely a Gentile who converted to Christianity, so he did not have the same outlook on God’s deity and holiness that Matthew did. He interpreted Jesus’ words to indicate loving kindness, thoughtfulness and merciful love toward our brothers and sisters. For Luke, this was much better represented by the word, ‘compassion’ than ‘perfection.’
So today, what if we focused on compassionate love and respect rather than perfection in our relationships? What would our world look like if we lived from this perspective rather than one of judgment and opinionated thinking? It would likely resemble the image Jesus had when he spoke of the Kingdom.
Kate Walsh Soucheray is a licensed marriage and family therapist in Stillwater. She works at Christian Heart Counseling at 275 Third St. South and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 651-439-2059 ext. 718.