The things I said to David on the phone were wretched things. Any eavesdropping outsider to our friendship would have said they were OK, not bad, permissible. But when seen in the light of the perfect, they were wretched. I knew they would slightly wound. It is not OK to settle for the permissible when there is a more perfect way available to you.
I responded to a letter from a reader with a statement that was true. And I fought for my contention that my response was true when a chorus of people called me on it. But a persistent check in my spirit that has all the earmarks of the Holy Spirit finally persuaded me that though my words were true enough as far as they went, they were not kind. Therefore they were not the best choice. "True" is only one bar that the Christian's behavior needs to meet.
The Lord said, "Be perfect" (Matthew 5:48), and the above scenarios exemplify what He meant by it. (Always go for the practical. Everything in the Bible is for our equipping for real life situations-2 Timothy 3:16). He was not speaking in the stratosphere but where we live and move and have our being. Nor was He enjoining perfectionism, in the sense of absolute, infinite perfection.
"Be perfect" means that if someone hands you a job on a silver platter but it requires you to be away from your family more than you think you should, you don't take it. "Be perfect" means that if you are itching to "share" with someone your problem with your pastor's sermon but you are not 100 percent sure that it's not gossip, you don't do it.
There is the permissible and then there is the perfect. "'All things are lawful,' but not all things are helpful. 'All things are permissible,' but not all things build up" (1 Corinthians 10:23).
In the interest of aiming for the perfect rather than the mere permissible, I am from now on resolved to "be slow to speak" (James 1:19). That will give me time to run my planned responses by the bar of not only what is true, but also what is loving and pure, peaceable, gentle, open to reason, and full of good fruits (James 3:17). I hope that will be enough to harness any more wild horses.