Hopelessly Devoted: Matthew Chapter Five Verse Forty Eight

If you’re following along with us in your new Mockingbird Devotional, you’ll already know. On […]

Mockingbird / 6.17.13

If you’re following along with us in your new Mockingbird Devotional, you’ll already know. On Robin Hood and the nature of getting it wrong, today’s reading comes from our co-editor Sean Norris.

You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:48, ESV)

One of the Biblical words translated “sin” is actually an archery term meaning “to have missed the mark or target.” It reminds me of the Disney cartoon version of Robin Hood, with Robin as the cunning fox and the Sheriff of Nottingham as a big ugly wolf. In the movie there is an archery contest in which the winner would get a chance to meet the lovely maiden Marion. The Sheriff wants to win so badly that he has one of his vulture goons hide inside the target so that, if his shot should be off, if he should sin, the goon can move the target so that the arrow hits the bulls-eye.

We of course play the same game as the Sheriff, trying to move the target closer to have a greater chance of hitting it. This happens when we make excuses, when we pity ourselves or blame others. This is foolish thinking: it assumes that we are the target setters, the game changers. Jesus, not you or I, sets the target very plainly here, and it is no game. The target is to “be perfect, as our heavenly Father is perfect.”


We may try casuistry, as the Pharisees in the Bible often do, to maneuver this goal. We may say it’s all about being a good steward with our money, or not swearing, or not physically killing anyone, or not binge drinking, or paying our taxes, or helping out at the shelter on Thanksgiving, or not looking at pornography, or not starving ourselves, or calling mom and dad on weekends, or whatever. We may say it’s about something else, but it’s really this: life is about being perfect.

With this impossibly high target, sin becomes the lingua franca. We miss this mark on all counts; there is no matter of manipulation or posturing that will alter it or make it more attainable. Rather, it is a state of being. We have no way to change our state, our being, but that is exactly what must happen. You therefore must be perfect.

Where do you stand hopeless today? Where do you most often feel the pressure to hit the mark? Or maybe more appropriately, where don’t you? There is no hope for sinners like us when the stakes are this high, at least not from within.