Clinging > Conceit

So how do we overcome these conceits?

Remember Paul’s situation in 2 Corinthians. He’s facing false apostles and teachers who are saying he doesn’t have the credentials to be a true apostle. Paul counters that he does have the credentials—but not the kind we would expect. He inverts all the categories. Instead of boasting about his theological knowledge, great success, or picture-perfect outward life, he boasts in insults, hardships, and being run out of town on a rail. This is how he contends that God is truly with him. He tells us to look at all the things God has done to bring him to his knees. 

Pastor, consider all the things God has done to break your pride. Look at all the ways he’s brought you to the end of yourself so that you would cling to him more tightly. Let all your failures and disappointments and weaknesses drive you like a nail into the love of God. It’s only by embracing them that you’re ever going to become a true minister and make it to the finish line.

— Tim Keller, 3 Ways Ministry Can Make You Conceited

Grief & Joy

“It’s the grief that makes you go to your resources. It makes you go to your roots as a Christian. It makes you go to the gospel. It makes you look at what Jesus has done for you. That’s what it does. The grief pushes you toward the joy, and it enhances the joy. The joy kicks on like a heat furnace and overwhelms the grief, but it’s there. I’ll go so far as to say if you get into grief, if you get into a time of trouble, and you have no tears and you have no problem and you say, ‘I’m just praising God,’ that is thought control. That’s brainwashing. That’s the way the cults operate. That’s some kind of psychological control.

It’s not supernatural. It’s not the way the gospel works. Don’t you see? The second principle is that a Christian is both happier and sadder at the same time. The gospel makes you a far more sensitive person, a far more feeling person, but at the same time a person who is feeling because you’re more hopeful than anybody else, a person who is able to sense and see the grief because you have a joy unspeakable and full of glory.

— Tim Keller

A Beautiful Tapestry

“I saw a magnificent, colossal tapestry. It was intricately woven together by vibrantly colored threads in such a way that every wisp, every strand was significant and added to the overall purpose of the tapestry—that is, the displaying of the greatest glory. You, dear family member, represent the thread; just as every strand is different in its hue and shade, you as well are unique in your personality and gifting and contribute a distinctive effect to the overall piece. However, despite the contrasts, when interlaced together the threads come together to create a portrait, the very reflection, of Christ’s love.”

— Kat’s reflection on family group, Spring 2011

The beauty of a community.

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.

– – – – – – –

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).

– – – – – – –

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.