Perhaps not all of you can identify as one who sets impossibly high goals for themselves and is constantly striving for perfection. But if you are one of those individuals who seek perfection, but instead encounters failure and frustration, perhaps this blog is for you!
Many perfectionists translate their drive for excellence into a harsh taskmaster. Even more dangerous are "Christian" perfectionists-those who seek to attain perfection in their walk with Christ using their own resources. I desire to speak particularly to those Christians who might mentally know they can't be perfect through their labors in Christ, but still seek to get as close as possible to perfect.
Are you exhausted by your constant striving for perfection? Are you worn from your endless toiling and laboring to excel? Have your labors paid off? Have you reached your impossible standards yet? Your every moment is transfixed with excelling and obtaining an unrealistic goal. When you fail to reach your expectations, you retreat into frustration and perhaps bitterness. You wonder, "Why bother striving to reach that impossible goal? Why war for the unattainable? Better to give in now, admit I am a failure and acknowledge that I am not spectacular but just like everyone else--ordinary!" Oh, how awful those words resound in your mind!
Do you realize that God is not impressed by your labors? Do you know that He does not even approve of your high standards of perfection? Oh, how He wants to intervene and free you from this burden, but no! You resist. "I won’t give in!" you proclaim. No matter how long you struggle to obtain your idea of perfection, you will never achieve it. It is not God’s way of punishing you to make you feel small and insignificant. He has a much better and more fulfilling way to live. Yes, fulfilling. You think reaching your goals will bring you complete fulfillment, but again you are to be bitterly disappointed. But God will not force His light burden upon you. You must choose to cease from your labors and accept His ways. You will not understand them in the beginning, and will be desperately tempted to return to your old habits. But resist my friend, for that is the way of the flesh which always results in disappointment!
What is God’s way? Jesus Christ, His Perfect Son, has already paid the high price for our sins and rebellion against Him. God’s true standards of perfection have already been met in Jesus Christ. Therefore, there is no longer any striving, toiling or laboring for the impossible for those who follow and trust in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Perhaps you wonder if God’s burden is heavier than the one you already carry. Maybe it's just another “to do” and another list of responsibilities. But it isn’t so! Stay with me for a moment to share a metaphor. Imagine you carry a 100 lb bag of rocks with you daily. No matter where you are or what activity you undertake, you carry this tremendously heavy bag of rocks. There is no freedom or release from this burden. For even in sleep, it lays close to you, always reminding you of its presence and the horrible burden of carrying such a load. A friend tells you a merchant in town is offering to exchange your bag of rocks for a small diamond—and for free! You can hardly believe your ears, knowing that nothing is for free today. But with each day your bag becomes heavier and heavier, and you begin to wonder what life would be like with freedom. After much toiling and delaying, you finally visit the merchant. “Yes, it’s true”, the merchant says. “I will gladly exchange your bag of rocks for a beautiful, exquisite diamond.” I won’t accept any money—it is a free gift. But I don’t take refunds or exchanges once you accept the diamond. You must hold it forever. This diamond will remind you daily of the debt I paid for you in taking your bag of rocks. All I need is your bag, and you are free to go. But you must completely release your bag to me.
You quietly mull over his offer, and before long, you wearily heave your sack onto the counter and eagerly reach for the shining gem. What beauty! You walk away with a lighter step and not so hunched over, tightly holding onto your new treasure. What freedom! It will take time to adjust to this new lifestyle—the lack of the heaviness, the bondage, the constant toiling and straining to carry such a useless and senseless burden. You are not sure what to do with this new found freedom. But you are certainly ready to try!
Yes, the story of the merchant is just that—a story, but the story of Jesus Christ is true! He not only lifted your ultimate burden (your sin and distance between yourself and God), but He also paid your debt that obligated you to carry that bag of rocks. You are now free in Christ. As His child, the only burden you must carry is the diamond. His burden is indeed light. It is beautiful and brilliant and carries a great value. Each diamond is unique and has a special calling. So God has a special calling on your life. The purpose of all the diamonds is to bring glory to God, but every diamond will do so differently.
You will have many temptations to return to the merchant and desire your bag again. In giving up your sack, you have to give up your standards and desires for what you think your life should be. And yes, there was an odd sense of security in that bag, albeit a false one. You could always rely on its presence, and it never left you. But it did not give you wisdom or direction or help to attain your goal. Rather, it mocked you with its silence. The way of God is so much better! It is free, alive and part of a captivating and life changing relationship with your Creator, the God of the Universe! God never leaves you or forsakes you. His presence is always with you!
I challenge you to exchange your sack of rocks for God’s diamond. Resist the terrible drive to excel at something that is empty and void. Accept God’s will for your life and enter into a phenomenal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Are you ready to relinquish your burden?