Hebrews 6:1 … let us go on unto perfection…
Here in this chapter, the Apostle Paul encourages followers of Christ both to steadfastness in their faith and to strive for a higher level of commitment and obedience to Christ. In doing this, he gives us a basis from which to start this process.
He says in Hebrews 5:13-14 For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. (14) But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
In other words, those who understand the word of God the least are not those who study it the least, but those who implement it the least. And those who understand the word of God the most are not those who study it the most, but it is those who implement its teachings the most.
It is after this that he then says “…let us go on unto perfection”. The key phrase here is “go on”. In other words, action! When it comes to a relationship with God, it is implementation, not just information, that God uses to bring progress in our lives. This is the key factor that moves us forward in our process of perfection.
People’s Definition Of Perfection
We’ll start by pointing out that there are two definitions of perfection; people’s definition and God’s definition. We’ll start by looking at people’s definition. In order to understand more fully what it means to “go on unto perfection” we must first understand what kind of “perfection” we are looking for.
When we think of the term “perfection” we can probably get its best definition from the dictionary, which tells us that perfection is being free, or as free as possible, from all flaws and defects. Aren’t you glad that definition gives us an out by saying “as free as possible”. But, when we think of the word “perfection” we don’t always think of that part. We think of the part that indicates being free from all flaws and defects.
We see very quickly that this is an untenable position to hold for anyone, and yet there are those who, while excusing themselves from such a definition, will consciously, or subconsciously, hold others to this definition. Maybe you know someone like this. They do this by being almost overly demanding that things be “the best they can”, which is a great thought, yet when pressed upon for more details often even they can’t tell you what that means.
My approach to this is simply that we should look for specific things that can be made better and then work on those things. By doing this, we can little by little, make the entire thing as close to “perfect” as possible.
So, we see that people’s definition of perfection is not usually attainable and thus we should strive for another definition of “perfection”.
God’s Definition Of Perfection
Let’s talk now about God’s definition of perfection. In Hebrews 6:1 when Paul says “…let us go on unto perfection…”, the Greek word used here for “perfection” is teleiotes; this word stems from the Greek word teleios and it means being mentally and morally complete. In other words, unlike people’s definition where perfection is looked at as something with little to no flaws, God’s definition is more comprehensive. It involves bringing something to mental and moral completion, which indicates that it was incomplete beforehand.
Without Christ, all men and women are both mentally and morally incomplete and thus incapable of pleasing God. It is when we are completed by Christ that we can then please God and be acceptable to Him. Many people attempt to please God only mentally, but the completion of Christ is both mental AND moral. It goes beyond head-knowledge. God is more interested in us having a heart-knowledge as well.
So, we see that God’s definition of perfection is both more attainable and more tenable because this definition is found in Christ and is empowered in our lives by Christ.
Progress, Not Just Perfection
The title of this message comes from a podcast I heard a while back where the speaker was telling a story about a personal trainer he watches online. The trainer made the statement, “We want progress, not perfection” and he indicated that statement made exercising seem more doable and enjoyable because progress is measurable and attainable, whereas perfection, as people see it, is not.
This same thing is true when serving God. Are we more mentally, morally, emotionally, and spiritually mature than we were last week, last month, or last year? Or, do the same things that tripped us up then still have that effect on us today? Rather than wishing and waiting on the day where we are “perfect” in our actions, let’s strive to be perfect in our hearts so that we may start to see progress in our daily lives.
This life is a marathon, not a sprint and serving God is no different. While there is an expectation for us to go on to perfection, we must understand that God’s definition of perfection is attainable, so long as we break it down into attainable steps called progress.
Strive through prayer, faith, and action to make progress and you’ll see perfection come to your life sooner and more effectively than you may realize!