Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Perfectionism Is Next To Godlessness

(2 Timothy 2:15) Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

Over the years I've come to realize that perfectionism is not a fruit of the Spirit of God. Quite the contrary! Perfectionism is next to godlessness.

Perfectionism is the drive to control all the variables and all the circumstances so that the outcome will be "perfect." All I want is perfect harmony, perfect quality, perfect aesthetics, perfect peace, perfect truth, perfect agreement, perfect joy, perfect progress and perfect success.

How can there be anything wrong with a concern for quality? Should we NOT strive for excellence? I think we should, but we need to be very careful. There is a very big difference between trying to please God with good work, and trying to BE God.

In perfectionism we are not satisfied with diligently applying ourselves to the work that is before us. In perfectionism we want to control God's part - the results.

Ironically, nothing we do will ever be perfect because we are not perfect. But everything God does is perfect, because God is perfect. Our process will always be flawed, but God's purposes will always be accomplished perfectly - far beyond our ability to perceive them.

Don't think that I am arguing for slipshod, sloppy or slovenly work. Far from it. We are working to please God and we should put our absolute best effort into all of our work. But what is God's perfect result from the work that we do? We don't really know.

God is less interested in my perfect completion of some project than He is in His perfect completion of ME. What I suppose are perfect successes are often failures because they inflate my pride, or they take inordinate amounts of time that should have been spent elsewhere, or they are accomplished through ungodly attitudes or actions. What looks like failure, on the other hand, may be God's success if it contributes to my humility, patience, and growth in grace.

Perfectionism results in bitter disappointment - or even in rage. I usurped God's place by deciding what the results must be and by believing that I can control everything to bring about those results. But in spite of my obsessive efforts, things still fall apart and I fall apart with them.

Godliness is very different. In godliness our focus is on faithfulness, patience, diligence, prayer, faith, trust and study. In godliness our goal is God's pleasure and God's glory. In godliness the highest priority is yielding to the work of the Spirit of God in changing our hearts and bringing us into conformity with Jesus Christ.

In godliness our challenge is not to achieve perfect results, but to respond with godliness regardless of the circumstances we can perceive.
(Romans 8:28–29) And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son...

(Galatians 5:22–23) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

1 comment:

ozjane said...

Your daughter led me here.
Great read.
I hang onto
As for God His way is perfect...and He maketh my way perfect.
My memory is in the old King James!!