A few years ago, I thought my faith was strong, until I encountered a friend who acted like an enemy. I didn’t know how to deal with her desire for competition and rivalry. Instead of putting my faith into practice and responding with kindness, bitterness took hold. As I went to God for help, He taught me that withholding mercy in relational strife doesn’t lead to peace. Instead, as hard as it is, we’re called to love others even when they act hurtfully.
In Matthew 5:48, Jesus said, “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” That command seemed impossible and daunting in my situation until I truly understood what it meant.
Teleios is the original Greek word in this passage for perfect, which when translated, means complete, full grown, having reached the end. In essence, He’s calling us to be completely mature in faith, fully grown up in love. Notice this word has nothing to do with making mistakes. It’s about reaching completion.
In Matthew 5:43-45, Jesus showed us what this looks like: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:43-45 ESV).
Our faith is complete, in part, when we love our enemies and pray for people who’ve wronged us. When we do so, Jesus says we demonstrate that we’re children of God. This is the type of love our Father modeled when, despite our sin and rebellion, He sent Jesus to die for our sins.
Praise God that our Father’s love for us is complete and perfect, despite all our blunders and moral failings. Knowing that makes me want to be more like Him. This means, when our neighbor is rude, we don’t retaliate. If someone betrays us, we forgive. When others come against us, we pray for them. And with each act of mercy and grace our faith is more Teleios, more complete, more perfect, just like our Heavenly Father.
How has God perfected your faith lately? Who challenges your patience or takes rather than gives? Pray for them and give grace knowing your loving actions will build your faith.
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