Reflecting back on my childhood, I can vividly remember being a perfectionist. As a young girl…everything needed to be neat and in its place….everything needed to be just right…everything had to be “perfect”!
The hangers in my closet hung exactly the same distance apart (I know…so Type A personality!)…I always stayed within the lines when coloring pictures (God forbid there be a stray mark outside the lines!)…my handwriting had to be perfect and neat when I turned in book reports for school (I could have endorsed White Out!)
As I grew up…I came to see this perfectionism progress into my adult life…as a wife…as a mother…and as a Christian.
Are you a perfectionist?
Are you always trying to be the perfect wife…the perfect mother…the perfect employee…the perfect friend…the perfect neighbor…the perfect student…the perfect family…or even the perfect Christian?
Ok so maybe you aren’t a perfectionist at all…but don’t check out on me just yet…as I believe you will gain some greater insight if you keep sticking with me here!
If you asked me why I was such a perfectionist throughout my life…I would answer… “I really don’t know why.”
My parents…family…friends…teachers…never put the expectation or the pressure on me to be perfect. There was just something in me that drove me toward perfectionism. I put that expectation on myself!
Maybe there was a deep rooted insecurity or inner fear of rejection…not measuring up…failure…even some sort of punishment…for not being perfect.
Maybe it was my need to be in control…my pursuit to gain acceptance from others…or my concern with what others thought of me.
I strove to be “perfect” in the very way we would all probably define the word “perfect.”
Webster’s Dictionary defines “perfect” as …having no mistakes or flaws; completely correct or accurate; satisfying all requirements; having all the qualities you want in that kind of person, situation, etc.
Sounds about right…I means sounds perfect! Right?
Even beginning a relationship with Jesus didn’t take away or remove this perfectionism…as I then quickly found myself striving to be the “perfect” Christian.
After all why would I change my perfectionistic mentality when now even the Bible…Jesus specifically…says I must be perfect!
You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Matthew 5:48 ESV
As I began to grow in my relationship with Jesus…I began to grow in grace…not just grace for others…but grace for myself.
And as I continued to study God’s Word… I gained a better Biblical perspective and understanding of what Jesus meant when He used this word “perfect.”
The word “perfect” in Matthew 5:48 comes from the Greek word “telios” which means whole… complete…mature…finished…having reached its end. It implies being fully grown or mature.
Wow! That says nothing about not making mistakes…not having flaws…or not coloring outside the lines! Certainly takes some pressure off…doesn’t it?!
This concept to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect… means we are to be “whole…complete…mature” just as Jesus is “perfect.”
Jesus was actually made “perfect” through suffering.
For in bringing many sons to glory, it was entirely appropriate that God–all things exist for Him and through Him–should make the source of their salvation perfect through sufferings. Hebrews 2:10 HCSB
Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered. And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation… Hebrews 5:8-9 NASB
Jesus completed or fulfilled God’s plan for Him as our Savior by suffering for us.
Jesus is teaching us wholeness…completeness…maturity.
So how can we be this “perfect” Christian? How can we be “whole…complete…mature” as Jesus was made “perfect”?
Character is a description of a person’s attributes…traits…or abilities; moral or ethical strength; reputation; integrity. Some would say…“Character is who you are when no one is looking.”
In this life…we cannot achieve Christ-like character in one instance or at one moment in our relationship with Jesus. We need to keep growing toward maturity in our character and aspire to be as much like Christ as possible.
For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect [complete] it until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6 NASB
We are all in process… and building character is a life-long process!
Holiness is the state of being consecrated or set apart for sacred use; living a life dedicated and devoted to the service of God.
But like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, “YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.” 1Peter 1:15-16 NASB
We need to separate ourselves from the world’s sinful values. We should to be devoted to God’s desires rather than our own…and carry His love and mercy into the world.
Our tendency to sin should not deter us from striving to be more like Christ.
Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Ephesians 5:1 NLT
Love is a purposeful commitment to sacrificial action for another.
When Jesus said…You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect…He was saying…”Let your love be complete as God’s love.”
God acts with concern and love for all people. If we must be perfect, as [our] heavenly Father is perfect…we will act with positive good will toward both good…and evil people. If we only love those who love us…but do not love our enemies…we are really no better than evil people…for even evil people are capable of loving those who love them!
If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. Matthew 5:46 NLT
God loves all people…even people who are evil. We can be as “perfect” as our God when we love this way.
But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:44-45a NLT
Our love for people needs to grow and mature…which includes loving our enemies. If we do not love our enemies…we are not acting as true children of our Father in heaven.
Today…I am not the perfect wife…I am not the perfect mother…I am not the perfect Christian…And that’s ok!
Neither should you be! In whatever or wherever you strive to be perfect!
Strive for progress…not perfection.
In the Biblical sense…we should be progressing toward wholeness…completeness…maturity.
We should be aspiring to be more like Christ…
Progressing to maturity in character…holiness…and love…
Striving for excellence…not the expectation of “perfection” that we place upon ourselves.
Strive for excellence, not perfection, because we don’t live in a perfect world. Joyce Meyer
Be encouraged today that we don’t need to place the expectation of perfection upon ourselves…that we will make mistakes…we will fail…we will color outside the lines…because only Jesus was perfect…and is perfect.
He was the “perfect” sacrifice!
… And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation… Hebrews 5:9 NASB
- Are you a perfectionist? Are you always trying to be the perfect wife…the perfect mother…the perfect employee…the perfect friend…the perfect neighbor…the perfect student…the perfect family?
- What drives you to perfection?
- Do you strive to be a “perfect” Christian?
- What does the Jesus say about being “perfect”?
- What is the biblical meaning of the word “perfect” and even more specifically in Matthew 5:48?
- Are you striving to be “perfect” in Christ-like character…holiness…and love? If so, how?
- If you are a perfectionist…pray and ask the Lord why you are driven to be perfect. There could be an underlying fear or insecurity that drives you to be perfect. Pray and ask Him to help you overcome this underlying reason…to increase your faith…and to strengthen you. (2Timothy 1:7)
- God does not call us to perfection…as our general understanding of this word. He expects us to make mistakes…and to fail. (Romans 3:23) He calls us to be “perfect” biblically. He calls us to wholeness…completeness…and maturity…which is a life long process!
- We can be perfect, as [our] heavenly Father is perfect…by aspiring to be more like Christ and progressing toward maturity in character…holiness…and love.
- You can’t become more like Christ if you don’t get to know Him! We can get to know Him better by spending time in prayer and studying His Word. It’s also important to evaluate the people we surround ourselves with. Are they drawing you closer to God…or pulling you away?