R.E.L.A.X in God's Liberating Grace
What is our obsession with perfection? What is our obsession with performing? Perfectionism is really just performance taken to an extreme. Some of you have been living in the prison of perfectionism for a long, long time. Today I am going to share with you how you can break free.
Definition: Perfectionism is trying to PROVE MY WORTH by being perfect or performing.
It’s easy to fall into one of two traps. There are two great enemies of grace. One of them is legalism -- trying to earn God's approval through rules. The other is perfectionism -- trying to prove my worth by performing or being perfect.
Galatians 3:3 "How foolish can you be? After starting your new lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort?"
There's only one antidote to perfectionism: Experience the grace of God. Learn to relax in the grace of God. How do you learn to relax in the grace of God? I made it into an acrostic for you R.E.L.A.X.
R - I REALIZE NOBODY'S PERFECT.
That's a no-brainer, obviously, but we've got to start somewhere. Realize nobody's perfect.
Eccl. 7:20 “Not a single person on earth is always good and never sins.”
I'm imperfect and there're a lot of things in my life that are not okay. And you’re imperfect and you have a lot of things in your life that are not okay. But when you accept God's grace, He says, "That's okay. You don't have to be perfect."
What does that mean? Does that mean God isn't interested in my growth? Of course He wants me to grow. Does that mean I don't have to repent? No, of course you have to repent.
That does not mean we can just keep on being a jerk the rest of our life. It just means that God isn't waiting for us to change for Him to love us.
E - I ENJOY GOD'S UNCONDITIONAL LOVE
1 John3:1a "See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are!"
When you become a follower of Christ, you are not just a servant of God anymore. You are a child of God.
Here's the difference. A servant is accepted and appreciated on the basis of WHAT he does. A child is accepted and appreciated on the basis of WHO he is.
God says, “I want you to enjoy my unconditional love once you become a part of My family.”
Some of you think God's waiting on you to grow up before He's ever going to smile on you, before He's ever going to give you the thumbs up sign saying, "You're okay! I like you." No, God loves you at every stage of your growth because His unconditional love is unconditional. I don't have to be perfect for God to love me. He understands you completely. He knows everything about you -- the good, the bad, the ugly -- and He still loves you.
Romans 8:31b "…If God is for us, who can ever be against us?"
Notice that God is not just with us. The Bible says God is for us. That is the essence of the doctrine of grace. Grace can be summed up in four words -- God is for us.
L - I LET GOD HANDLE THINGS
That's very important. At the root of perfectionism is the desire to control. We think that if we can just control things, then they'll be perfect.
So what do you do when you can't control the uncontrollable things in life?
1 Peter 5:7"Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you."
Things don't have to be perfect for me to be happy. There is no such thing as a perfect vacation. If you're waiting for one, you're never going to enjoy one. There is no such thing as the perfect marriage. There are no perfect kids. There is no such thing as a perfect body. There is no perfect church. There is no perfect job. The Bible says nothing is perfect except God's Word.
If we're waiting for that perfect environment for us to enjoy life, it's not going to happen. We must learn to enjoy life in the middle of imperfection under less than perfect circumstances. Learn to enjoy the moment, in spite of the imperfections of life. Paul said it like this,
Phil 4:11b-12a “I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. 12I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation,”
A - I ACT IN FAITH, NOT FEAR
Remember how you got into God's family in the first place.
Eph. 2:8 (NIV)"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith..."
We're not saved by grace and then live by works. A lot of people think that. "I'm saved by God's free gift and now I really have to work hard as a Christian to keep God's approval in my life." No, you don't. How were you saved? By promising to be perfect? No. How do you live the Christian life? By promising to be perfect? No. How did you come into the Christian life? By keeping the Ten Commandments and promising to obey every rule? No. How do you live the Christian life? By keeping the Commandments and promising to obey every rule? No.
It's by grace, through faith. We need to understand that literally everything in your life is a gift from God. Everything that God does in our life, He does for one reason -- grace. God teaches us by grace. God forgives us by grace. God guides us by grace -- not because we deserve it. God uses us by grace. God gives us gifts and talents by grace. God blesses our life by grace. God gives us friends and family and freedom by grace. Absolutely nothing in our life did we earn.
One of the symptoms of perfectionism is constant fatigue. We're always trying to control everything. And that's tiring trying to be the general manager of the universe, holding all the strings together, trying to keep all the balls in the air. One day we realize, "It's not up to me. I can relax. I can let go. I don't have to try to make things perfect in order to prove my worth." We can live in a self imposed prison of perfectionism or we can take step five and find liberation and freedom today.
X- I EXCHANGE MY PERFECTIONISM FOR GOD'S PEACE
Perfectionism destroys peace. We're going to live with one or the other -- perfectionism or peace. Here's the offer. This is the offer Jesus Christ makes and it's still valid today. It's an offer we really can't afford to refuse.
Matt. 11:28-29 Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
Matt. 11:28-29 (Mes) "Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to Me. Get away with Me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest... Learn the unforced rhythms of grace."
I invite you receive His perfection through His Liberating Grace.