I used to believe that striving towards doing things perfectly was how my relationship with family and friends would work best. Yet time and time again I noticed that I was not happy with the results. The other person may be pleased with the results of my efforts, granting a Thank You! or a Well Done, only I was exhausted by the efforts and the other person moved on. No lasting connection or reciprocation coming my way.
So trying even harder to be more perfect was my original thinking. I just wanted those around me to be happy. It didn’t really matter if I did something perfectly; I just wanted connection. But I was oblivious to my belief being flawed. Isn’t perfection what everyone strives for in interactions with others? It just didn’t seem to get the results I desired and I often felt rejected and alone, especially when I was unable to be perfect.
You see, I’m human and all humans have a few things in common. News flash: We all make mistakes! We all suffer! We all sin! Ugh!
I even tried to be perfect for God and, wow, did I ever blow it time and time again. The truth is we all live in a fallen world and no one is perfect. My efforts to please others by being perfect were a miserable failure in both my expectations and my abilities. My expectations were unrealistic and my abilities have limits.
Paul writes in his letter to the people of Philippi the following:
“Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.” Philippians 3:12 ESV
Paul puts the emphasis on his relationship with Christ Jesus; not on his performance. Sure, Paul strives towards perfection in his actions, but he is realistic in his expectations of himself. Yet, he clearly is not making his performance His top priority. That priority is his relationship with Jesus!
Oswald Chambers in his devotional, My Utmost For His Highest, states the following in the December 2 reading:
“It is a trap to presume that God wants to make us perfect specimens of what He can do — God’s purpose is to make us one with Himself.”
God knows we are unable to be perfect and he doesn’t expect us to be perfect! What He desires is a very close, intimate connection with US. God wants us to love Him back, know Him on a deep level, and, out of gratitude, serve Him by walking together with Him in His will. God desires we do so on a daily basis.
Later in this same devotional, O. Chambers states:
“Christian perfection is not, and never can be, human perfection. Christian perfection is the perfection of relationship with God that shows itself to be true even amid the seemingly unimportant aspects of human life.”
Each morning I wake up to a radio playing Contemporary Christian music and take a shower singing that song in my head. I listen to the news and weather reports, eat breakfast, brush my teeth, and head out the door to my car, then drive to work. In all of these unimportant moments of my day, I wonder how many moments I spent thinking about and communicating with Jesus. More importantly, am I listening to Jesus so closely that I am able to do exactly what he wants me to do in any given moment?
One of my favorite (and funny but real) stories is from Beth Moore, a Bible Study leader who makes every effort to be obedient to God’s request at the moment it is given. Yet, you will hear her hesitation and attempt to make it about herself. Watch.
O. Chambers concludes his December 2 devotional with this:
“I am called to live in such a perfect relationship with God that my life produces a yearning for God in the lives of others, not admiration for myself. Thoughts about myself hinder my usefulness to God. God’s purpose is not to perfect me to make me a trophy in His showcase; He is getting me to the place where He can use me. Let Him do what He wants.”
Just a couple postings back in my blog, I wrote how God took me all the way to Charlotte, NC’s airport to meet a gal who I needed to meet for my own healing and for hers. Instead of getting upset in the Grand Island airport about not getting to my destination yet that day, I was willing to “ride out” whatever the airline could arrange to get me to my destination with anticipation that God had a plan. I did not make the delay about me.
I want you, also, to take the focus off of yourself and put it on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2a). It is not about performing for God or anyone else. Instead, develop a real deep and intimate relationship with God and others. Then be ready to serve. I know you can do it. Keep striving towards the goal, as Paul encourages all of us in Philippians 3:14 ESV.
“I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”