But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect. [Matthew 5:48 (NLT)]

For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. [Romans 3:23 (NLT)]

slender bush cloverIn many handmade Persian rugs and carpets, you’ll find a small deliberate mistake. I understand that followers of Islam believe only Allah makes things perfectly and weaving a perfect rug or carpet would be an offence to him. Because attempting to create an object of total perfection is considered bad luck, it is a common Native American practice to intentionally string a wrong-colored bead (the spirit bead) into an otherwise perfect pattern of beadwork. Whether myth or fact, “humility blocks” are said to have been deliberately placed in quilts. Amish and Mennonite women, knowing that only God is perfect, felt it prideful to make a perfect quilt and so they made a deliberate mistake.

To me, feeling the need to make a deliberate mistake to keep from perfection is the height of pride. Having done some quilting and other handwork myself, I can guarantee that mistakes will always creep into anything handmade (at least anything I make). Whether these intentional errors were acts of humility, a way to speed up the work by getting the first mistake out of the way, or an excuse for that odd piece of scrap fabric in a quilt, I don’t know. I do know that, no matter how hard we try, we humans will never achieve perfection. That has been done only once—by Jesus.

The Greek word most often used in the Bible for sin was “harmartia.” An archery term, it meant missing the mark. This specific word was used 173 times in the Bible. Having done a little archery as a girl, I know there was no need for me to deliberately miss the bull’s eye to remain humble. I rarely even came close to hitting the mark.

Mankind started out as perfect but, once sin entered the picture, that perfection was lost and we’ve been sinning ever since. Although we are called to be perfect, even the Apostle Paul admitted he missed the mark. There is no need for any of us to insert a “humility square” into our lives. We’ve made enough errors already and, unfortunately, many more will come. Like Paul, even though we try our best, we often fall short of the goal. Being human, we just won’t hit the mark every time.  Nevertheless, even though we fail to live up to God’s perfect standard, like Paul, we continue to strive and aim for the bull’s eye. There’s no need to be discouraged; we are all works in progress and are forgiven for our errors. We just need to focus on Christ and allow the Holy Spirit to guide our aim.

I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. [Philippians 3:12-14 (NLT)]

So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. [Romans 8:1-2 (NLT)]

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