Strive for restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, and live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.
Thoughts for Today:In our passage today, Paul tells the Corinthians to "strive for full restoration." The King James Version translates this same concept as: "be perfect". And although some of the newer versions translate this as "be mature" or "grow up" (which might be more linguistically correct), the Greek word Paul uses (KATARTIZO) encompasses more than simple maturity.
Why would Paul, at the beginning of his closing paragraph, and prior of offering warm words of comfort, encouragement and inspiration, in essence tell the Corinthians to "be perfect"? Those words cause me a bit of anxiety -- maybe even a little alarm -- because I know no matter how hard I try, I will never be perfect. But think about it for a minute, if the Bible tells us to "be perfect", then there must be a right and a wrong solution in every situation.
Confusion about right and wrong, morality and justice are just as much a problem for us today as it has been throughout history. For example, In the prophet Isaiah's time, Israel was way off course, so God sent him to speak these words to His people (Isaiah 5:20): "Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter."
Unfortunately, finding right and wrong are not easily discovered. Why? Because of differences in how we value things. Education is a great example. I might place a high value on language skills (written and verbal communication), yet someone else would say math or science has the greatest transferable value in the workplace. We could debate this topic endlessly and still neither of us would be right nor wrong. Why? Because our opinions are subjective and based on our human nature and what interests or concerns us most. It is the reason that morality and justice can never be decided by our "values". Absolute right and wrong can only be based in perfection. What is perfect? Psalm 19:7: "The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple."
Jesus said in Matthew 5:48, "Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect." But He had already established the benchmark (Matthew 5:20): "For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven." So trying to follow every nuance of the Law is ultimately an impossibility for sinful humanity. What's God's solution? Jesus Christ is our hope of glory (Colossians 1:27). Jesus died for our sins, He paid the price for every mistake we've ever made. Therefore, it is only by Him, in Him and through Him that we can be made perfect by His perfect sacrifice!
Questions to Ponder:It is not trying to obey the Law on the outside that attains perfection for us. Rather, it is the Lawgiver, the One who loved us by laying down His life, who will be with us. He will whisper from the inside: "Why are you going there? Why watch that? Why are you thinking those thoughts?" And then He offers Himself: "Let Me show you a better way, different thoughts, and a new way of living." Have you been listening to His voice? Will you align your thoughts with His perfect will? It is the only way that we can ever "be perfect"!