I am my worst and toughest critic. I can easily give grace to other people, but I’m terrible at giving it to myself. I expect perfection, not from others, but from myself.
My perfectionist nature has led me down a dangerous spiritual path. Some time last year I realized I began to base my worth and righteousness on my good deeds. Every time I did something “for” God, I gave myself a pat on the back. Every time I fell short, I tore myself down. My inner voice often sounded like:
“I should know better than to that. I’m so stupid for falling into that temptation”
“I can’t believe I’m still struggling with this. What is wrong with me! I’m a failure.”
“I need to get my act together. I need to stop.”
Do see the pattern? Though many of those statements hold some truth, they are all inwardly focused. Every thought is about what I should do.
Unconsciously I begin to base the validity of my salvation and faith on my acts. Since I was struggling with and giving in to certain temptations, I viewed myself as a failure. I couldn’t break those cycles of behavior so I believed God was angry with me, did not love me as much as He used to, and would not bless me anymore.
I stopped seeking God’s power and started trusting in my own. I was no longer relying on His strength, instead I relied on myself. Friends, that’s a recipe for disaster. When you practice self reliant faith (which is not what Christianity is) you have to get yourself out of the mess because YOU got yourself into it. Thank you Jesus, this isn’t how we have to live.
The truth is I am a failure and a sinner without God’s grace and forgiveness. I could never overcome or change that without Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. It is by God’s power alone that I am no longer seen as a failure or sinner, but as a righteous and faithful child of God. In Christ we are made righteous (i.e. we have right standing) with God. This isn’t because we’ve made ourselves good enough or earned it in any way. It’s because of Jesus’ death and resurrection. When we accept his death as an atonement for our sin and put our trust in Him, we are saved and given eternal life through His resurrection. Jesus’ righteousness becomes our own. God now sees us just as He sees Christ, blameless and righteous.
We ALL fall short, even as children of God. Though we are being made into the likeliness of Christ, we are not yet perfect like him. I had to realize this. I will never be perfect on this side of Heaven. And you know what? That’s okay! It took me a while to see it, but now I understand that God doesn’t expect perfection from me. So why do I expect it of myself? God has called us to love him with all of our heart, mind, soul, and strength, to love others as ourselves, and lay down our life to follow Christ. Nowhere in the bible does it say if you are not completely perfect at following God then you are disqualified from the gift salvation.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. - Ephesians 2:8-9
That’s not to say that as Christians we can do whatever we want because of God’s grace. What I am saying, however, is that we should learn to see ourselves the way God’s sees us. When we confess our sins and repent, God forgives us. We then must learn to forgive ourselves. God shows us grace, and we should show it not only to others, but ourselves too. He disciplines us a loving father, therefore we should seek the Holy Spirit’s power to grow in discipline and self-control.
Our culture has its own ideas of what success and perfection look like. As a follower of Christ, success looks like one thing…obeying God and following His will for your life - nothing else. It’s not about following rules just because, or becoming our own idea of perfection. It’s about letting your mind and heart be transformed and renewed by God so that your life can be a living testimony of His glory and goodness.
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. - Romans 12:2
We do not honor God when we tear ourselves down. He gets no glory from that. He uplifts and encourages us, even in His discipline He is kind.
Know that condemnation, self-hate, and shame come from the enemy. The devil lives to condemn and accuse us, hoping it will make us run away from God out of fear of what we’ve done. When we sin, we must train ourselves to run to Him and not away from Him.
God knew every sin you were going to commit before you were born. God does not give us guilt or shame, but grace and mercy. Don’t fall into that trap of thinking you can’t come to Him with your brokenness. God knows what you did. He DIED for what you did. Let your mistakes and sin draw you closer to Him. Be vulnerable with Him and you’ll see that He is loving, compassionate, gentle, and gracious.
The Lord is compassionate and gracious,slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him… - Psalm 103:8–13
His love isn’t conditional on your behavior and His blessings are not conditional on you never making a mistake. He will be faithful even when we are faithless (2 Timothy 2:13) as long as our trust is in Him. What matters is that, through it all, you continually seek Him. When you mess up, repent and seek Him even more. No longer should we look to ourselves for anything, but to Him for everything. The key is this - Progress, not perfection.
All My Love,