“Listen, that boy is a perfect heathen,” she said. Actually, I wasn’t really listening as much as overhearing, but I couldn’t help but marvel at the obvious paradox. A heathen is, by definition, a person that does not acknowledge the God of the Bible, let alone live by His instruction. The Bible speaks of the heathen one-hundred-fifty times, and never in a good light. In fact, God calls the ways of the Heathen filthy and abominable. He commands us time and again not to participate in the “shame of the heathen” nor learn their ways.
If someone were aspiring to be “perfect” at something, heathenism would certainly not be a good choice. True, the word heathen seems pretty benign in American culture. How about the word pagan? That word tends to evoke lots of horrible images –images of everything from polytheism to the heinous, unspeakable sins that the pagans commit– yet the words heathen and pagan are pretty much synonymous.
Conversely, striving for “perfection” is a worthwhile and desirable pursuit. King David said, “I will sing of mercy and judgment: unto thee, O LORD, will I sing. I will behave myself wisely in a perfect way (Psalms 101:1,2a). The Hebrew word for perfect is taw-meem, which means that David’s heart was undefiled, full of integrity and truth. The Bible uses the word, perfect -with all its derivatives- almost one-hundred-fifty times as well. However, that which is “perfect” is always pleasing to God.
Perhaps you believe, dear reader, that you can never be perfect. Truthfully, if you are striving for perfection according to the heathen’s definition, you probably won’t ever attain it. But if you acknowledge the God of the Bible, and have a heart like King David’s, you most assuredly can. After all, perfection and righteousness are pretty much synonymous; and the Holy Bible has given us ample instruction as to how to live righteously before the LORD.
Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God (2 Co 7:1).
Having said that, I pray you all have a perfectly glorious day!