The Pinch of Perfectionism

The Pinch of Perfectionism

A good devotion from the book EDIFIED!
 
“Forgive as you have been forgiven.” Colossians 3:12
 
The legalistic quest for perfection is a natural one in my life, but it is futile. Every day I fail multiple times to do what is right in my thought life, or in some words spoken, or in some choice, action or relationship.
 
On one hand this is part of being a fallen person living in a fallen world, (although I must hasten to add that this in not a valid excuse for choosing failure). On the other hand, our failures can be fertile ground for spiritual growth.
 
This past year, and especially this summer, I made a number of choices that did not work out for the best. Almost all of these were made with the intent of doing good, and many for doing what was best.
 
However, there were also heavy strands of wrong motives woven into the fabric of the decisions, and these marred the final product. For instance, jumping in to give good advice to a person who is not ready to hear it. Many would not consider such failures to be all that bad, but when I consider how they affect outcomes, they are significant.
 
The bottom line, however, is what I do with my failures. For someone with my natural, old nature’s drive for success and fulfillment, these failures produce anger: towards myself, towards those who may point out my failures, and ultimately towards God who has “allowed me to be imperfect.” And then I am easily angry towards others who irritate me in some way.
 
None of this anger is righteous, but God uses it as a “prod” to help me take up and put on the second piece of His armor of Eph. 6:10-18, the breast plate of righteousness.
 
It is His righteousness that counts, not my being perfect, and He offers me His righteousness on a daily basis. I need to lay down my idol–my desire for the perfection, seeking to look good, even to myself–and instead affirm that only God does everything right.
 
God has, through Christ’s sacrifice, forgiven me for my sins and failures, so I need to agree and forgive myself on the basis of Christ’s work. Failure to appropriate this forgiveness is a greater failure than any of the other lacks I’ve mentioned!
 
Not everyone struggles with forgiving themselves, but many of us do so without realizing it. To accept God’s forgiveness allows us to forgive ourselves on the basis of His work and then, we are freed to forgive others.
 
My failures of this past year have been used to lead me into a deeper understanding of God’s forgiveness, allowing me to see more of its many facets.
 
Forgiving myself also reveals my anger for what it is, a deep vein of rebellious self-centeredness in my old man; this revelation then helps to free me from my anger through confession, especially confession in layers.
 
Our Lord knows what He is doing in our lives, often leading us by enlightenment because of our failures. The ways of God are both inscrutably complex and marvelously simple. Are we following?
 
Prayer: “You, Lord, are the God of all forgiveness; give us grace to grasp how much we are forgiven so we can forgive ourselves and then forgive others. May we keep on the whole armor to be useful to you and bring glory to your name. Amen.”
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