I remember the day that I realized my mom was not perfect. I was probably about 9 years old. Until that day I think I believed my mom could do no wrong. She could answer all my questions and teach me everything. If she didn't know it, it wasn't worth knowing. I probably idolized her. But one day I shared a fact with her. A fact I had read in the scientific journal "Reader's Digest." The little blurb had to do with some scientific evidence that warm water actually freezes quicker than cold water. I shared this interesting article with my mother as I filled up the ice cube tray for the freezer with hot water, rather than cold. She did not appreciate this; in fact, she made me use cold water instead of warm. I was stunned. And confused. And disappointed. My mom, who could do no wrong, did not believe the "Reader's Digest"!??
No one is perfect. Although I have to admit that I have (and probably still do) strive for perfection, whether overtly or subconsciously. In my life it's been easy to come across as being "perfect." I was my mom's helper. I wanted to please my parents, so I was happy to do whatever they wanted me to do. I did want to please God with my life. Grades came easily. Music came easily. Loving God was easy. I had it easy. But I never claimed to be perfect. Yes, I can tend to be a perfectionist. (I think I share that in common with my mom--also a hazzard of the music occupation.) And I think to some extent that I grew up thinking that there was a standard of perfection that I was being held to. After all, Jesus lived a perfect life, so shouldn't I strive for that? But I am not Jesus. I am a created human being. And no person is perfect. If we put our faith in anyone or anything other than the Lord Jesus Christ (even ourselves), we are doomed to disappointment.
Yet there is a point to be made for striving for excellence and wanting to grow in the Christian life. If someone points out a fault I want to be doing what I can to make that better (with the help of the Holy Spirit). I think that's the point I struggle with: I want everyone else to be wanting to grow in the same way that I do. If I see a fellow Christian who doesn't seem to want to change their actions, I want to HELP that person want to change. But if that is coming only as a result of changing behavior and not the heart, I can be setting them up to fail. God's goal is always to reach the HEART before the ACTIONS.
I have only recently come to realize that this goal of perfection may become an idol which may cause me to live in such a way that I am not extending God's mercy and grace to others. Subconsciously I may have been thinking this: "I have it all together." After all, I'm trying to live a "perfect" life, so shouldn't I expect that of others? Hang on a second! I know that even though I have been blessed to have had some good habits in place for a long time, I am definitely not perfect--especially in my thoughts. We are all flawed human beings, and we won't be perfect until we reach our glorified bodies in heaven because of the shed blood of Christ. Any good thing I have is only because of God's grace in my life. I fail to love others as Christ does. I sin daily. Yet the more I come to know God, I see how forgiving and gracious He is.
Because I've done things right in many areas of my life I can tend to be proud--and like the prodigal son's older brother, I can think I deserve more. But God loves us equally. I should not be expecting other Christians in this sanctification process to be "perfect." We are not called to be perfect; we are called to be growing. I need to focus on doing my best with what God has given me, but exhibit lots of God's sacrificial, forgiving love and grace to others. And that's an issue of the heart.
Phil. 3:12-14 (NASB) "Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."