October 14, 2017

The imperfect life of perfectionism

This morning I woke up thinking about the difference between perfectionism and Jesus’ appeal to us to be perfect. I suspected the thought meant God wanted me to write about these differences, but, to be sure, I prayed for a word of confirmation.

When I checked my email for the Daily Bible Verse from Bible Gateway, I did not see Matthew 5:48 as expected: “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect,” King James Version (KJV.) But….

Today’s verse came from Romans 12:2:

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect,” New American Standard Bible (NASB)

Or to put it another way:

“Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect,” New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE.)

As you can see, both translations say the same thing, just with slightly different choices of synonyms, and both emphasize a connection between discernment and the kind of perfection intended. In other words...

To be perfect means clearly knowing and acting on God’s will.

Contrast that understanding with definitions for perfectionism found in Word software:


The “nicest” word in the list is “conscientiousness,” but then, that begs the question, “Of what or Whom are we constantly conscious or aware?” If ourselves, we’ll not only be apt to be nitpicking but self-absorbed and, oh, self-conscious!

Jesus’ call to perfection asks us to be God-conscious.

We’re to be so in-tune with God’s Word that scripture begins to transform our minds from the world’s ways to The Way of Christ. Then, we continue this transformation throughout our lives by choosing to renew our minds as we regularly read the Bible, pray, and worship the Lord in communion and church fellowship with others.

What joy! What grace we receive as we put aside our own need for personal acceptance and perfection and, instead, accept the wisdom, way, and will of our Most Perfect Lord.

by Mary Harwell Sayler, ©2017

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