Perfection is Not the Criteria

Perfection is Not the Criteria

I’ve been a pastor for over eight years and during that time I have had many people come to see me to discuss problems they are having in their lives. The issues often return to the same theme. They feel like a failure because they are not perfect, or they are afraid of being seen by others as less than perfect. No matter how you look at any situation, it’s a lot of pressure to put on a person. So, I decided to explore this theme of perfectionism at last Sunday’s service and was surprised at what I found.

I started by researching the word perfect in my favorite textbook, the Bible. The Gospel of Matthew 5:48 immediately came up, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” What?!? This stopped me in my tracks. Had Jesus really said to only accept perfection in myself? I knew that I had three choices other than taking it literally as it was written.

The first thing I could do, and the easiest, would be to pick another verse about perfection that would fit in better with my talk. Another option was to go straight to the metaphysical interpretation of it, leaving the literal behind. Or I could let the research lead me where it would, allowing the talk to develop from what I learned instead of from what I wanted. I decided to the let the research lead me on this journey and it proved to be fascinating.

I began by thinking about how the writer might have written this during Jesus’ time. We’re not sure who the author of Matthew was, or who any of the writers of any of the Gospels are, but we do know they were originally written in Greek. Like any good Bible Nerd, I did some research on the passage and found a lot of information. (Yes, I Googled it.) First and foremost, I found out that the Greek word for perfect in the New Testament is teleios and that it has a different meaning than what we give it in the English language. The word in Greek means ‘complete.’ After digging a little deeper about where the author from the Gospel of Mark would have gotten the word, I found it in the Hebrew language. The word for perfect in Hebrew would have been tannin, which means ‘whole, sound, mature, helpful and having integrity.’

At that point I looked at the original scripture again, “Be perfect, therefore, as your Heavenly Father is perfect,” and knew that this talk was going to come out with the same premise I had originally intended, but get there in a very different way. With my new information, the meaning of the verse changed from “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect,” to read, “Be whole, complete, and mature in integrity in your love of others.”

That is very different from instructing us to be perfect. Instead we are to focus on our wholeness and love for others. I think Jesus would have taken it a step further to say to accept, even love, the imperfections in ourselves. Because the Truth is there is only love and wholeness anyway.

What dreams have you not fulfilled because you felt there were less than perfect conditions? Or what negative tapes are playing in your head about yourself that have held you back? It’s time to let them go and embrace what you may see as imperfection. Don’t let negative thoughts hold you back from accomplishing your dreams, or damage your relationships, or destroy your happiness. You deserve so much more. You deserve prosperity, health, joy, peace, and love.

For this week, let’s shake off those negative thoughts and shine your light brilliantly! It’s what you're made to do.

Please join us next Sunday at Unity Radiant Light at 10:30AM to explore “Just Say Yes and Do It” with Cherie Ruffo, Spiritual Leader. Unity Radiant Light is at 155 Douglas Avenue, Providence, Rhode Island. You can find more information about Unity Radiant Light at, Facebook or


Cherie Headshot.jpg

Cherie Ruffo is and has been the co-founder and Spiritual Leader at Unity Radiant Light for over eight years. She is also a freelance writer, entrepreneur, and the author of the middle grade fantasy series, The Source Crystals.

Cherie has a Bachelor’s Degree from Old Dominion University and is currently pursuing her Master’s in Divinity at Unity Worldwide Spiritual Institute. She lives in Norwich, CT with her husband, Daniel, and their three crazy dogs.