What is God’s idea of perfection?
My son and I study a Korean form of martial arts called Tang Soo Do. In most martial arts, the highest achievement is the black belt—the student begins with a white belt, and over the course of years moves up through the color levels until reaching black belt status. A couple of months ago, we had the privilege of attending a black belt ceremony where we watched some of our classmates receive their reward for years of practice and hard work. At this ceremony, an interesting lesson presented itself.
As we saw the students receive their new belts, we noticed that the belts were not truly black. Our instructor explained, “In traditional Korean martial arts, black means perfection. Therefore, when a student completes his training, he becomes ‘perfect’ in his knowledge of the art. But we know that we can never achieve perfection in our lives, so we must always continue to learn and journey towards perfection. So, from now on, midnight blue will be our highest rank.”
My son was a little disappointed to learn that we will never earn the traditional black belt. However, I appreciate the reminder that, as we live in the flesh, we will never achieve perfection—we can only journey toward it, with God’s help through His Holy Spirit. We know that Jesus Christ was the only one perfect in His physical lifetime; Peter wrote that He “committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth” (1 Peter 2:22).
Our society is driven by the desire to achieve perfection. We seek the perfect career, the perfect relationship, the perfect house, the perfect body, the perfect achievements. It seems that the pursuit of perfection in our lives is all-consuming.
Yet in one area, our society seems to be satisfied with just good enough—the pursuit of moral or spiritual perfection. In Matthew 19, we read the story of Christ counseling a young ruler who asks how he can achieve eternal life. Jesus first tells him to follow the commandments, then says he must give up everything and follow Him—which the young man is unwilling to do. Later, in Matthew 22, Christ tells us that the two great commandments are to love God with our all and to love our neighbor as ourselves.
Jesus Christ makes it crystal clear that spiritual perfection means being willing to obey God to the point of losing everything we have. Does that mean we will each be called upon to literally give up everything we own for Him? Most likely, we will not. In 1 Corinthians 10:13, He promises not to place on us a burden we cannot endure with His help: “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”
As all loving fathers do, our heavenly Father will teach, push, encourage, and if necessary, discipline us—to help us reach our full potential, not to destroy us. He knew from the beginning that we will never be perfect as carnal beings. That’s why He allowed His Son to be sacrificed to atone for our sins, and that’s why He gives believers the gift of the Holy Spirit—to help us continue growing toward perfection.
I’m thankful to know that, although there may be no “black belt” for me in this life, He will always be with me on my spiritual journey toward perfection. I’ll trade that black belt for an imperishable crown any day!
Learn more about how we can grow toward perfection in obedience to our God by requesting a free copy of The Ten Commandments or reading it online at TomorrowsWorld.org. Also, be sure to enroll in the free Tomorrow’s World Bible Study Course and begin your journey toward true biblical understanding.