3 Challenges For the Perfectionist
How to fight the desire to be perfect at everything
“…rules are only shadows of the reality yet to come. And Christ himself is that reality… These rules may seem wise because they require strong devotion, pious self-denial, and severe bodily discipline. But they provide no help in conquering a person’s evil desires.” Colossians 2:17, 23
Sometimes it’s hard to be honest about our sin and forgive ourselves. It’s almost as hard as forgiving others. Some of us even honestly admit that it’s hard to love God when things in life don’t seem perfect. These feelings show how the pressure of legalism (following rules) and perfectionism (the desire to be perfect) harms our identity and our relationship with God and others. Let’s allow God’s Word lift the weight of these challenges:
1. Being honest about your own sin
You are admired for hard work and results. Does this make it harder to be honest about mistakes? You may seem to have very little to confess. But sometimes it seems like the end of the world when you find sin at the root of your actions. If any mistake brings hopelessness and despair, you may be falling into the trap of perfectionism. Remember that Jesus came to save sinners (1 Timothy 1:15, Luke 15:2). He only called those who knew they were sinners (Mark 2:17). Walking with Him depends on truly confronting and confessing sin (1 John 1:7-9).
2. Forgiving others
Perfectionists tend to judge others by their bad actions and excuse themselves because of their good intentions. In Matthew 23:4 Jesus describes it this way: “They pile up back-breaking burdens and lay them on other men’s shoulders—yet they themselves will not raise a finger to move them.” Jesus’ parable of the unmerciful servant shows that forgiven people must forgive (Matthew 18:21-35). Real love, not perfection, is the mark of a Christian, (John 13:35) and love keeps no record of wrongs (1 Corinthians 13:5).
3. Loving God in spite of
This is the hardest to admit, even to ourselves. But it is the key to the other problems. Is God not keeping His end of the bargain? You pray and work but don’t receive the blessing. You feel your Christian walk should entitle you to the breakthrough. But it never comes. Have you done something wrong and disqualified yourself?
It should free you to know that we do not control God in this way. Remember that while the Old Covenant promised blessings for those who lived according to God's Law, it also promised curses to those who did not (Deuteronomy 27:26). God's New Covenant is mercy for all who believe. No conditions (John 1:12, 3:16). Trusting only in Christ means you have to stop trusting in yourself.
Pray this week:
That God will show you clearly what it means to rest in the completed work of Christ. (Hebrews 4:10
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