“You therefore must be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48)
I’ve been thinking a lot about my dad this week. In just a few days he will turn 81 years old and I imagine his upcoming birthday and his age are causes for my reflection. As I think back over the years, I remember the various stages of what I thought about my dad. They’re probably not much different than the thoughts you had regarding your own father. When I was little, I looked at him with such reverence. I felt as if he could do nothing wrong and I took in every word he said. Then as I grew and became more independent in my teenage and early adulthood years, though I loved and respected him, I wasn’t quite so eager for the advice he had to offer. As I’ve aged, now having teenagers of my own, though we sometimes differ on the means of achieving an outcome, I realize how wise he has always been.
“You therefore must be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect” The central theme of this passage in Matthew is not on how to be a good father, but on emphasizing that the Heavenly Father is perfect. The Greek translation for the word perfect means to mature. In the Sermon on the Mount (chapters 5-7), Jesus taught about the high standard in which Christians are to live, and though unattainable in this life, how we are to pursue that perfection. God’s standard is His own perfect character. Well, my father can’t meet that perfect standard, nor can I or any other father. We never will. Our Christian walk as fathers, or anyone’s Christian walk for that matter, should desire perfection. Though we know it’s not possible, our heart should desire that it be. At best, earthly fathers are but a dim reflection of our Heavenly Father.
I have always known that I have a great dad who loves me very much, and I truly appreciate all he has done for me throughout my life. The mistakes he made along the way, he made loving me. He is an imperfect dad because all earthly dads are. That is another thing God’s Word teaches us; in our pursuit of Him, we will always fall short. The value in knowing that, on our own, we fall short is that it points us to the One who never does. He is the perfect Father who gave His perfect Son to be the perfect sacrifice for our sin. God the Father is to be our role model. And as the Heavenly Father has dealt so graciously with you, honor Him and extend that same grace to your imperfect earthly father. Thank him for what he has done for you, but also forgive him for what he has failed to do. That will bring glory to the Father who loves you the most, the Father who awaits you in heaven.
Heavenly Father, thank you so much for my earthly father. Thank you for the wisdom you gave him in raising me. Though imperfect, he loves me. Father, in the ways that he may have failed, I forgive him. We all have failed. You are the one perfect Father and we adore you. Thank you for your Son, Jesus Christ. Help me to show the grace you have shown me, and by the power of your Holy Spirit, give me a desire to be perfect before you. Amen!