Matthew 5:48 records Jesus as saying that we “must be perfect as [our] heavenly Father is perfect.” In this verse, we learn that God demands perfect righteousness from us, and since we cannot render such righteousness (Rom. 3:9–20), Christ’s words ultimately drive us to Him for our justification, for the gift of His perfect righteousness imputed to us.
We miss something, however, if we think Matthew 5:48 is only about us. It is also about God, for we are told that our “heavenly Father is perfect.” In the context of Matthew 5, the text is primarily about divine righteousness and love, demonstrating that nothing can make God more righteous or loving since He is perfect, and one cannot improve on perfection. But we may extend this to all of the divine attributes. Job 37:16, for example, tells us that God is perfect in knowledge. He cannot learn anything, for He already knows everything. God cannot grow in any of His attributes, including His glory.
So, as we have seen, we cannot add to the divine glory. We cannot increase the inherent glory of His being. As today’s passage states, however, we can ascribe glory to God (1 Chron. 16:28–29). This involves honoring the name of the Lord and treating Him with the reverence He is owed. In so doing, we are also making His glory known to the world. We do not ascribe glory to God for His sake, since He has possessed glory for all eternity, but we do it for our sake and for the sake of the world.
Today’s passage goes on to explain several ways that we can ascribe glory to God. We do so by bringing Him offerings (v. 29), not of animals as under the old covenant, but of ourselves as living sacrifices (Rom. 12:1–2), which testifies that He has made us and has lordship over us. We also ascribe glory to the Lord in our worship and fear of Him (1 Chron. 16:29–30). Worship is rendered to that which we believe is greater than we are, and by worshiping the one true God, we acknowledge His unsurpassed greatness, and the nations are thereby directed to His great glory. We ascribe glory to God by thanking Him for His goodness, and people are thereby reminded that He is the source of all good things (v. 34; James 1:16–17).
Finally, we ascribe glory to the Lord by proclaiming His sovereignty and living like we mean it, that is, by following His royal law (1 Chron. 16:31). The Lord shows His glory in people who are committed to His rule and reign.