Overcoming Perfectionism

goldfish jumping out of the water

Colossians 2:10 states:

 and you are complete in him, who is the head of all principality and power.

 It’s so wonderful to see the word describing us as being completed in him. Although we are all in the process of God’s work, through the eyes of The Lord we are completed in him. He steps back,  looks at us through the blood of Christ and says, “It is good.”

Matthew 5:48

you shall  be perfect as your father in heaven is perfect.


There was a man in The land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and shunned evil.

 Be perfect as your father in heaven is perfect is a terrifying scripture for a perfectionist. “Be perfect” feels like a lot of pressure to a try harder, do better believer. What about a scripture about being blameless. Wow, that feels kinda pressuring huh.

I am a recovering Pharisee, we all are in truth. Who can do it all right? Who is blameless? None of us.  In fact, God knew we would screw everything up.

He sent Jesus to secure and do what we could never do. This is great news in theory but on paper when you’re walking it out it can be tricky because our flesh loves to try hard and prove we can do it. We can’t. When you lose, you actually win spiritually because his power is made perfect in our weaknesses. Our flesh loves to “try” and do what only the Holy Spirit can do inside of us.  God calls us to rest in him and obey The Holy Spirit as he shows us what to do.

Galatians 3:3

Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?

 Perfectionism feeds on our feeble fleshly attempt to accomplish what can only be accomplished through a work of God’s spirit.

Philippians 3:12

Not that I have already attained or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may hold of that for which Christ Jesus has already laid hold of for me.

The Hebrew word Tam or Tamim means complete or mature or healthy; it doesn’t carry the meaning of without flaw as does the term “perfect” in English does.

No person is perfect and without flaw. Believers that are growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ reflect this work through the fruit you see in their lives. They are “perfected” through the blood of Christ, so God sees them complete.

The sanctification process is walked out through God working through their experiences, through the ups and downs of life and growing in the knowledge of God. This is where his amazing grace kisses us right where we struggle! This is good news because God’s grace ALWAYS blows away our best efforts!

Growing in that grace comes from understanding our identity in Christ. Understanding who we are comes from God’s word and the transforming work of The Holy Spirit. An internal work rather than an external attempt to do it right.

Striving to do things right and doing them with excellence is good but if your acceptance of God’s approval is based on how hard you worked and how hard you tried, you will be left feeling empty and disappointed. These are fleshly attempts to gain God’s approval. We already have God’s approval. It is our faith in him that pleases him.

Religious people externally demonstrate fleshly attempts to “be made right” with God. Their acceptance comes from their religious activity or trying to do or undo what can only be done by the spirit of God.

Example- Trying to overcompensate in areas we have fallen short. Maybe it could be something like neglecting an elderly parent, but pouring incredible amounts of energy into religious activity or even church needs

Rather than yield to conviction. . The enemy whispers, you are helping the church, or feeds on our pride by pointing to the religious activity we are involved in. The devil loves religion instead of spiritually minded believers. Spiritually minded people are open, humble and teachable. Religious people are rule keepers, flag throwers. Their accumulation of Bible knowledge swells their head rather than enlarges their heart.

Consider the Pharisees, even their name “Phar-I see” can explain their view of life. An eye for an eye, tooth for tooth, right is right and wrong is wrong, there are no gray areas only black and white. They can easily size others up with their microscopic lens of evaluation. Their external good works keeps them feeling secure by feeling superior to others. Their righteousness is self righteousness.

Luke 18:10

Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee, the other a tax collector v.11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, “God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector.

v.12 I fast twice a week, I give tithes of all I possess

 v.13 The tax collector standing afar off, would not as much as raise his eyes to heaven but beat his breast, saying God be merciful to me a sinner.

v 14. I tell you this man went down to his house justified rather than the other, for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.

The Pharisee’s prayer is from a position of pride in his goodness rather than in God’s forgiveness. His elevated opinion of himself helps him look down on others. In pointing out their sins He is blinded by his own.

The tax collector on the other hand, knew what it felt like on a daily basis to be looked down upon. Tax collector were no more popular then as they are today. I’m guessing He had a real awareness of how far off he was and because of this He humbly and simply cried out for mercy. He didn’t use a bunch of religious jargon, He didn’t have religious tricks up his sleeve. He was aware of his need and that humility drew out God’s love and mercy towards him.

Mercy always triumphs over judgment. It always has and always will.

John 3:17

For God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world but that the world through him might be saved