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Striving for Perfection

Sean Hochdorf

I recently visited my brother-in-law while on the road raising support for our upcoming move to
Tanzania. During some downtime he and I were talking shop and he showed me an outbuilding that he
had almost completed painting but had just not got around to finishing. I offered to paint the remainder
while he was at work and set about to do so the next morning.

My brother-in-law is plagued with a disease many of us do-it-yourselfers are plagued with - every
project must be perfect. Hours and hours are spent striving to attain perfection only to find blemish upon
blemish after each examination. To this day I can barely look at any book I have had the privilege of
formatting or editing. So many errors! How could this be after so many hours of poring over every
detail? In the end we hope for a gracious observer to overlook the blemishes and appreciate the
determined effort to strive for perfection.

It struck me while I was striving for the perfect paint job that what I was doing/thinking is a good
illustration of our lives as Christians.

Do you find yourself striving for perfection as a child of God? Perhaps you are like me and sometimes
find yourself completely frustrated, maybe even distraught or depressed, because self-examination
continually reveals my numerous shortcomings. No matter what, I just can’t seem to get it right. It’s a
part of my life where I feel like I really relate to Paul’s words in Romans 7:15ff.

Truth be told, I am relying too much on my own works and not enough on the work of the Lord at

So how can we biblically deal with our quandary?

1. We need to accept that Christ is the only one to live a perfect life (1 Peter 2:22). Only through Christ
are we made perfect. We just can’t do it on our own.

2. While we must work the works of the Lord we can never do enough to earn our salvation. We work
diligently (James 1:25) and we certainly give the Lord our best (Ephesians 6:5-8) but we can never
earn the salvation He promises.

3. We must genuinely believe that God is going to reward us for being faithful (Hebrews 11:6).

4. As a child of God we must accept the fact that we will not see Heaven without the grace and mercy of
our Father (Ephesians 2:8).

5. We should continually remind ourselves that we will never enjoy true, biblical, peace unless we
wholly trust in the Lord (Philippians 4:6-7).

“Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be
brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:13, NKJV).