The Sin of Perfectionism

There is a problem in our churches that needs to be brought to light. It isn’t a new issue by any means, but it is getting worse with every new app designed to present us as picture perfect. We use filter after filter to go about documenting our day because no one should know that our kids get dirty. We crop photos to hide the mess of toys to the left of our toddler. (Even I am guilty of that one). Do you have blemishes on your face? That’s okay there’s about a hundred make up apps to hide behind. What happens when we get so accustomed to filters and covering up our dirty spots that we become numb to our sins? How many times have we stood up during an invitation and thought, ‘Well yeah I sinned, but who needs to know about it? No point in losing face by going down front.’
1 Samuel 16:4-7 ESV ‘Samuel did what the Lord commanded and came to Bethlehem. The elders of the city came to meet him trembling and said, “Do you come peaceably?” And he said, “Peaceably; I have come to sacrifice to the LORD. Consecrate yourselves and come with me to the sacrifice”. And he consecrated Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice. When they came he looked on Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is before him.” But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the lord looks on the heart.’
In that passage God sent Samuel to anoint the next king of his people. We find out later that he was sent for David, and that David was not the most impressive looking person when stacked up to the others. However, God didn’t care about his looks as much as his heart. God knows when we sin, and even in the vastness of the technology we have, there is no new smart phone that can wash it away. Jesus is the only way. Asking forgiveness for sins we commit AFTER salvation is key! We can omit our deepest sins from our favorite social media sites, but God knows all the thoughts we have and the condition of our heart.
Perfectionism is also toxic to the church and hinders our spiritual growth. If we get caught up in every little thing someone does wrong instead of showing compassion and forgiveness to each other then we are in for a wakeup call on judgment day. When be become hyper critical of others we rob ourselves. How can we see the blessing of another person if we refuse to look past their flaws? We are servants and not judges. The fact is that we are to be humble and humbleness demands acknowledging our flaws so we can work on being better Christians. Not finding fault with one another, not holding a person’s mistakes over their head for years, and not coming down on someone because we are better than them at something. God gives us all strengths and weaknesses, and where we may succeed in one area someone else succeeds in another. This blending of talents is what balances out the congregation and keeps us relatable. Where I may be good at hanging fencing and horrible at hosting a party, another may not be knowledgeable in fencing and a wonderful host.
We want to wear our accomplishments as a merit badge and a standard, but we refuse to see where we lack. As a result, people who come into our churches and are already down on themselves are greeted with haughty pre-judgments and impossible standards. The most useless Christian is one that is un-relatable and can’t make a connection with people to witness about Christ. If Church is just a fashion show on Sunday then we have missed the point and should readdress where we stand with God.
Matthew Chapter 7 starts with a warning on passing judgments against others: “Judge not lest you be judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, “let me take the speck out of your eye, when there is a log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you can see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”
Sometimes we take this way out of context. It does say at the end that we must take the log out of our own eye, and then we can see clearly to take the speck put of our brother’s eye. It doesn’t mean take care of our sins so that we can go list off someone else’s. The meaning I take away from this is simply to take care of my sins through repentance, learn to be a better servant of the Lord and how to witness, tell them of the Gospel, and then when they come to repentance GOD can help deal with their sin.
If my brother is already a Christian and sinning there are guidelines in Matthew 18:15-17 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church, let him be to you as a gentile and a tax collector.”
. The above verses state to tell him his fault because he has to know where he went wrong. It does not say to bludgeon him over the head with his fault. We have several examples of how Jesus reached out to the gentile and dined with tax collectors, and he dealt with them with compassion as he taught them. Jesus was the ultimate example of perfection in human form and yet he loved all people enough to reach out to them through their imperfections. He reached out to the lepers, the exiled, and the afflicted. To hang on to perfectionism is to try to replace Jesus with ourselves, and replace God’s judgment with our own. Both of these are sins and both of them can damn us. Coming from a compassionate and humble heart is the only way to please God. Dealing with people in a loving and understanding manner is the best way to reach out to the lost. So let’s examine our own hearts this week and make sure that we are living up to God’s standards instead of our own. Let’s strive to be useful and not a hindrance.

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