Perfect is something that I have never been, even though sometimes my “squeaky clean pastor’s daughter” vibe leads people to believe that I am. And, I have always strived for perfection…which is something that has left me empty, unfulfilled, unsatisfied, etc. But that is because perfection is something our human flesh desires that is solely for our own selfish gratification.
Ok, great. Now what?
A few short weekends ago I got to hang out with 7 freshman girls, and we got to really dive in to discuss what we hold on to that helps us find short-term satisfaction. We talked about grades, boys (of course), and all kinds of things… but I like to encompass all of the above in saying this: I have been trapped by striving for perfection.
When I was in high school and I began to dig into the word and I was learning new things every day from the Lord, there was one thing that was still missing. I prayed that I would be in the Lord’s Will, but only because I didn’t want to screw up my life. Even though I was doing the right things and seemed to be going the right direction, the motives of my actions left me empty.
My problem was that perfection was spelled out for me in Proverbs 31. In this passage we see a woman who is beautiful, wise, she knows how to run her house, she knows about trading and how to make a profit, her children love her, her husband seems like a cool guy and he praises her. I would read this and be like, “dang… I want to be like her.” She’s got it all together!
I missed the most important part of the passage. Verse 30 says, “A woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.” Regardless of her other qualities, her most praiseworthy one is that she fears the Lord.
That’s where we should begin. Our fear/love/admiration of God leads us in the right direction. For the past month, I have encountered Romans 6 and 7 almost every week from different pastors, teachers, and mentors. Do you think the Lord is trying to tell me something? 🙂
Romans 6 calls to our attention that we are either a slave to sin, or we are a slave to the Lord. Ew, a slave?? I don’t like the sound of that. Well, too bad. We are bound to something whether or not we like it. But, I think I would much rather be a slave to the Lord. When He is our master the Bible says our yoke is easy and our burden is light. However, Romans 6 cautions us against taking the easy road.
The easy thing to do once we have recognized God’s unending grace and mercy is to continue going on sinning. Why? Because we are not under the law, but under grace! However, even as slaves of the Lord we are called to obey.
16 Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. 18 You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.
19 I am using an example from everyday life because of your human limitations. Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness. 20 When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. 21 What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
-Romans 6: 16-23
I once heard someone say it this way: The reason we find it so difficult to follow the Lord is because we can’t imagine what it would be like for someone to be “over us” as our master and have our best interest in mind. The only thing that we get from living in sin, apart from God, and those things that we are ashamed of, is death. What do we gain from obeying the Lord and living in righteousness? Eternal life!
That is the gospel. However, the gospel should not bring about “behavior changes.” It should bring about a heart change that ultimately turns your heart towards obedience, and leads to righteousness and holiness.
The problem is that Satan still can gain footholds in our lives in those areas that we allow him to. Whether that is grades, relationships, or in my pursuit for perfection; he can use any good thing for a sinful desire. It is an ongoing battle.
89 Your word, Lord, is eternal;
it stands firm in the heavens.
90 Your faithfulness continues through all generations;
you established the earth, and it endures.
91 Your laws endure to this day,
for all things serve you.
92 If your law had not been my delight,
I would have perished in my affliction.
93 I will never forget your precepts,
for by them you have preserved my life.
94 Save me, for I am yours;
I have sought out your precepts.
95 The wicked are waiting to destroy me,
but I will ponder your statutes.
96 To all perfection I see a limit,
but your commands are boundless.”
– Psalm 119: 89-96
Father, thank you for loving us enough to give us your laws so that we can know the way to live, and so that we can recognize our sin. Thank you for being faithful to forgive our shortcomings, and for sending your Son to meet that standard that I can’t meet. Lord, I delight in you and I am so glad that you have rescued me and have saved me from perishing in my sin. I pray that I would not be limited by pursuing earthly perfection, but that I would find joy in obeying your commands. Amen.