One of the problems with reading something in a translation from its original language, like the bible, is that sometimes we read a word in our language and think it carried the same meaning in the original language as it does in its common usage for us. A couple of weeks ago we looked at ‘righteousness’ and looked at what that might mean in both Hebrew and Greek, and what it meant when used by Matthew. This week we have another word – “perfect.” We are told to be perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect. I think we often read this and hear that we need to be without fault, flawless, super, heavenly, divine. And we think “I can’t be that” and we read on thinking this is all out of reach.
But in the Greek the word used more often means “mature, complete, grown up, ripe”. Being perfect is not being flawless, but mature, ripe. What does that look like? That is what the Sermon on the Mount is all about. When we live the kind of generosity, mercy, compassion, love for all Jesus is talking about in the teaching up to this point we are perfect. We will never be flawless, and we are not being asked to be. Just an image of God’s compassion (righteousness)