Character

Perfection

Author: Brendon O'Dowd, U.S. Air Force Chaplain, Lt Col (RET)

Photo by US Air Force is licensed under CC BY 2.0

“Surprise inspection”—the words that can create fear and panic with most military members.  Thoughts race through our minds like “are we ready… there is too much to do and too little time… the overtime is going to kill us… we are going to fail.”  Inspections demand perfection because so much is at stake.

Double Edged Sword

Perfection is not just for the military.  We push ourselves and especially others to be perfect, yet at the same time we hate (or fear) perfection, because it demands so much from us.  It demands a high and sustained energy level with intense attention to detail that is critical to reaching perfection.  And deep down we know maintaining that energy and intensity over time is a heavy burden that we may not be able to carry.

How do we cope with the fear and anxiety that comes from the need to be perfect?  In the military, sometimes we ignore the regulations and checklists that are obsolete or questionable.  We also argue that the checklists don’t match reality or find ways to hide the mistakes and sweep them under the rug.

We do the same things in our personal lives—we ignore people who point out our weaknesses and create ways to justify our actions with rationalizations.

In Matthew 5:48 Jesus told a crowd that each one must “be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Perfection takes Intentionality

Goals are supposed to be high but achievable and this standard given by Jesus seems impossible.  A young and successful leader approached Jesus because he thought (or rationalized) that he had almost reached perfection.  He obeyed God, was blessed with wealth and power, and he wanted to know the final step.  Jesus told him that if he wanted to be perfect (complete), he had to sell everything and follow Him.  Jesus was asking this young leader to start over with a correct motivation and attitude.  Essentially, Jesus wanted this up-and-coming leader to worship and follow Him (Mark 10:17-31).

When we worship God, perfection is seen in a new light.

First it brings us comfort, letting us know God the Father already sees us as perfect.  We are not condemned for our sins, because Jesus has paid our debt (Romans 8:1).  He has declared us not guilty, or has justified us, because He declared His Son guilty (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Second, it gives us confidence that God will use all things to shape us into what He has declared us to be, a process called sanctification.  His primary tool for that shaping process is Scripture, because it corrects us and teaches us so that we can be perfect/complete in Christ (Colossians 1:28).

Knowing perfection is not the enemy and that God provides just what we need will give us the freedom to do our best.  Our work, when carried out for God, will always result in His glory and our good (1 Corinthians 15:58).

The final inspection report has already been written and we passed!

Now commit to the daily evaluations from His Word that keep us on track toward fulfilling that final inspection report.

You do not need to face this challenge alone. Jesus has conquered this challenge so that you can move from your present situation to a life of overcoming. Invite him to lead you in your journey. He will forgive, comfort, and heal you.

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