The Principal is My Pal
“Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” – Matthew 5:48
While I was a college student at Union University in Jackson Tennessee, I worked as an engraver at a local trophy shop. It was my responsibility to oversee the engraving machine, and fill any trophy orders that we received. One particular job order that has been forever “etched” upon my memory was an elementary school order for 115 “Principal’s List” trophies. As usual, I pulled the order and began working on the trophies. I entered all of the information into the computer that controlled the engraving needle. When all of the metal plates were completed, I cut them to proper size and placed them upon all of the trophies. As I was completing the order and preparing them to be boxed, I made one last count to make sure that they were all there. The good news was that I had made them all. The bad news was that I had misspelled the word “Principal.” In front of my eyes were 115 trophies that read, “Principle’s List.” I really goofed! But what made this blunder even worse was the fact that it was my boss Mr. Singleton who noticed it first. Ever since that day, I have never forgotten how to spell “principal.” Mr. Singleton told me to always remember that the principal is my pal. I found myself spending the rest of the afternoon correcting the order before it was delivered to the school.
Humans make mistakes but God never does. To the contrary; He does all things well (Mark 7:37). We are flawed finite creatures, and our infinite God is without error or flaw. With this in mind, why in our passage above did Jesus tell people to be perfect? Was He suggesting the notion that man could somehow achieve sinlessness perfection? Obviously not; the only one who lived a sinless life was Jesus Himself (Hebrews 4:15). Was Jesus promoting the belief of salvation by works? No; if that was the case, no one would obtain salvation. Rather, He was teaching the importance of living out the Christian life. At this point, a proper understanding of the word “perfect” will help. Jesus uses the Greek word “teleios” which means “having reached its end; mature; complete; perfect.” As we grow and develop in our faith, we are a work in progress gradually moving towards completion (Philippians 1:6). This work in progress is called sanctification. It is a process that begins at conversion when the Holy Spirit indwells you (Romans 8:9) and continues on throughout your entire life. It is not that you become sinless but rather that you desire to sin less. Everything about you is overhauled from the inside out. We become a new creation in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:17). It is through this sanctification process that God develops His children by equipping them with every good and perfect thing needed to mature them to completeness.
Unfortunately, there are those who carelessly use their vulnerability and susceptibility to sin as an excuse to continue in sin. They might say something like, “Well, all people sin, and I suppose that I will struggle with sin as long as I am on this side of heaven.” While this statement may be true (Romans 3:23, Mark 14:38), such an argument should never be used to justify sinful behavior. We must remember what the apostle Paul wrote to the church at Rome; “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it (Romans 6:1-2)?” A few verses later we read that the believer is to be dead to sin and alive to Christ (6:11). The bottom line is this; we might not have the capability of living perfect lives as Christ Jesus did, but this does not diminish the fact that we should imitate and mirror the life of Jesus. We should passionately pursue holiness and avoid sin at all cost.
– Pastor Eric