Freedom from the Prison of Perfectionism
- 2002 3 Oct
God has called us to freedom and liberty in every area of our lives, but Satan, if he can't keep us from being saved, still wants to keep us in bondage. That's what he was doing to the saints in Galatia. Here's what the apostle Paul says in Galatians 1:1-3
O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?
Paul was challenging the Galatians "Did you get saved by keeping the Ten Commandments or by trusting in Jesus Christ?" When he says the flesh, he's not talking about our actual flesh, but he's talking about our Adamic nature, which tries to be good so that Almighty God can receive us.
What is perfectionism? I give it to you in a sentence. It is judging yourself by your achievements. You measure your worth in terms of productivity and accomplishment, and you're always striving for unattainable goals, never reaching them, and, therefore, never, ever being fulfilled. The key words of a perfectionist are I must, I should, and I ought. Perfectionists are not led; they are driven.
Life Behind Bars
Let me tell you some marks of life behind the prison of perfectionism.
- The perfectionist is never satisfied.
- The perfectionist is critical of other people.
- The perfectionist sets impossible goals.
- The perfectionist is an idealist.
- A perfectionist values himself by what he does, what he has, or what he obtains.
- A perfectionist feels guilty if he relaxes.
- A perfectionist is project-minded rather than process-minded.
- A perfectionist has irremovable guilt.
The Great Escape
Are you ready for a prison break? Let's go for it. I want to suggest three ways you can escape from life behind bars. Believe that God has accepted you by grace.
Ephesians 1:6 says, "To the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein He hath made us accepted in the beloved." How does God make you accepted? By His grace. Not by your works. Grace is completely contrary to human nature, which wants you to live by guilt and not by grace.
God is not trying to catch you in some kind of a sin or grind you under for some mistake. God is not the God of push and shove - wanting us to do more and more in order to please Him.
Grace is God's acceptance of us. Faith is our acceptance of God's acceptance of us.
Do you think I'm trying to tell you that performance is not good? Or that I want you to lower the standard? No. If you think I'm saying that, you're wrong. I'm just trying to tell you that if you're trying to earn your acceptance before God by your performance, you will also be disappointed. You'll never, ever have the freedom from this prison that the devil has put you in.
Learn it and believe it that you can accept yourself. That doesn't mean to make peace with sin. But reprogram your self-concept. Say, with the apostle Paul, "I am what I am by the grace of God." In God's eyes you are special. God has accepted you. Now, you can accept yourself. Don't be hooked to your past.
Let Jesus look into your eyes today. Let Him say to you, "I love you. I accept you. I don't love you because you're valuable; you're valuable because I love you." God has accepted you. Now, you accept yourself.
Learn to accept other people.
Don't demand perfection out of anybody because they can't give it. Let God be God, and you resign as the CEO of the universe. You see, they don't have to earn their acceptance with God, so why should they have to earn it with you?
When you accept other people not only do you free them, but you're going to free yourself to be all you can be. And I'll promise you this: When you get out of the performance trap you'll not do less; you'll probably do more. You'll achieve more. You'll enjoy it a whole lot more.