The Paralysis and Pain of Pursuing Perfectionism

The Bible nowhere encourages us toward perfectionism. It promises us perfection — imputed perfection now (2 Corinthians 5:21) and future perfection in the age to come (Revelation 21:3–4) — as a free gift of God’s grace, so that we will be free from perfectionism.

That’s why God goes to great lengths to expose the imperfect, clay feet of the Bible’s faith heroes. Abraham, the great model of faith, has his Hagar episode. Moses, the great Christlike prophet, has his disqualifying rock incident. Aaron, the great Christlike high priest, has his golden calf disaster. David, the great Christlike king, has his Bathsheba affair. Peter, the great apostle and Christ-confessor, trips over his clay feet throughout the Gospels and beyond (Galatians 2:11–14). And Acts and the Epistles give us a warts-and-all view into the imperfect lives of the earliest Christians.

God knows our perfectionistic temptations and tendencies, and so he fills the Bible with stories of his amazing and phenomenally patient grace toward sinners who continued to imperfectly fight with, and stumble in, their sin throughout their earthly sojourns. He wants us to know that perfection in behavior and motivation is completely out of our experiential reach in this age.

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God is calling us to the wonderfully refreshing experience of getting our eyes off ourselves and how we’re measuring up, and onto Jesus (Hebrews 12:2). He wants us to stop pursuing or being paralyzed by perfectionism so we are free to pursue love (1 Corinthians 14:1; 1 Timothy 1:5) and pursue trusting him with all our hearts (Proverbs 3:5).

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Perfectionism is a ponderous weight we must lay aside in the race of faith (Hebrews 12:1). God doesn’t want us to focus on performing perfectly; he wants us to focus on living out a childlike, dependent faith through authentic acts of love (Galatians 5:6). In Christ, you are free!

Lay Aside the Weight of Perfection by one of my favorite Desiring God writers, Jon Bloom.