Inspirational Thought of the Day:
The path of perfectionism could only ever be paved with God’s perfect standards – and only He could ever meet them.
Scripture of the Day:
“The young man said to him, “I have wholeheartedly obeyed all these laws. What do I still lack? 21 Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be perfect, go sell your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
Sometimes in this life we just want to arrive – be done with the battles of the flesh and just know that we are ok. Ever feel that way? I understand the performance-oriented question that the young man asked Jesus. Sometimes we can strive so hard to be faithful, but deep inside something is missing. I felt that way for many years in my walk with God. Sometimes I still do.
Getting to the root of that feeling is the challenge when we are uncomfortable and restless in our Spirit and don’t know why. Identifying our lack is most of the solution.
There is a hungering in our soul that just cannot ever completely be quenched. This is actually a good thing. God placed this hunger within us to draw us to Himself. If we are easily satisfied, we can grow complacent and content with lesser things. But feeding the inner hunger with the Word of God, worship and prayer, we ease the ache in our souls and find the perfect peace of Christ.
Or perhaps there is a sin we cannot yet see that is hidden from our eyes. We try to rationalize it away, making excuses or giving it a name that seems suitable. But it still convicts us. The precious Holy Spirit loves us too much to let us be comfortable playing in the mire and mud of sin. He reveals our inner unholiness not so we would try to achieve Holiness, but rather confess our iniquity and come to God, asking Him to be our perfection. Exposed sin is actually freeing – not condemning – when it is revealed by a loving God whose purpose is always redemption.
Ok, maybe our transgression is obvious but we just can’t set it aside. We want our way. At least in this state we are aware and not deceived, but if we do not submit our desires to God, that ache in our soul will grow numb as we silence the voice of the Holy Spirit and listen to our own. This, my friends, is a miserable place to be. Getting what we want will definitely not be a blessing to us apart from God’s perfect plan for us. Ultimately, for the type “A” peeps out there, our perfectionistic mentality would also make living with known sin a devastating reality.
Or maybe it is our own perfectionistic mentality, legalistically holding us to a standard that Christ already satisfied. Behind the veil of what seemingly is perfect is often self-righteousness. This is so very dangerous and can lead to great deceit and sin. If we consider anything good in ourselves except for what Christ has accomplished, we have been walking on the path of perfectionism, which could only ever be paved with God’s perfect standards – and only He could ever meet them.
Once we have discovered what that nagging feeling is – hungering for God, hidden or known sin, or perfectionism, we are almost free. The next part determines whether or not we will break free from the pain of perfectionism. We will either accept God’s free provision for our need or go away and continue to try and attain it ourselves.
I love that Jesus calls out the performance mentality and perfectionism in the young man’s heart. He offers a solution that the young man did not want to meet. Christ was not trying to list good works for him to do, for giving away belongings and doing good deeds would mean nothing if it were done outside of the grace of God. It is in following Christ that he leads us to our calling and makes us into His image, all for His glory – not ours.
The young man recognized he still had a need. Following the outward obedience was not enough. He needed something more and thought He could gain it by good works. This is the fatal flaw in perfectionism – if we think we can fulfill the demands of God’s perfect law, our mistake could mean a life lived for self and possibly missing the grace He so lavishly gives us.
As we walk with God, we will never stop needing Him to guide us back onto the path of righteousness. This is part of the sanctification process. We will never be perfect in our flesh, but the irony is that in Christ, we already have attained perfection. No, we cannot achieve perfection and we still miss the grace of God, but in the eyes of our God, He looks at us and sees His son – perfect and without sin.
Oh God, we do not deserve your grace at all. Thank You for freely giving Your grace, forgiveness, and love. Forgive us for trying to live apart from You. May the imperfections we have not keep us away from You because of shame or striving, but draw us nearer to You, instead.