Are people supposed to be perfect? I’ve been asking myself this question while getting ready for visitors. As soon as we knew they were coming we went into high gear preparing, cleaning and fixing up.
I have been a guest in their home and know the expectations. Their house and yard are “practically perfect in every way.”¹ My sibling and I were raised by the same mother but we are two very different sisters.
Since we were raised in the same home I know the drill by heart. But for me to carry it out day by day causes depression. It’s hard work to meet such high expectations.² I have stopped trying to keep a perfect house, except of course when my sister comes for a visit.
Not only does it make me depressed I don’t have the skills for it. When my sister was young she entertained herself by organizing her dresser. I have ADD. Organization is not one of my strengths. She has natural abilities in home decorating. I do not. She finds it therapeutic to clean. I find it exhausting.
After their visit I called my other sister to air my feelings. She is younger but farther along in her thinking. She reminded me that we all have strengths and weaknesses. We can’t be good at everything.
What makes this hard is what was held up as a virtue when we were growing up – a beautiful, clean (emphasis on clean) “House and Garden” type home. I feel like a failure because I can’t reach this.
Although, I am a better cook and I don’t usually kill my plants. So there are at least two things I am better at than my sister!
There are other things I am good at too. But to think myself superior to others who are not as good is wrong. This is PRIDE! God is not happy about pride as the following verses show:
“Pride goes before destruction,
and a haughty spirit before a fall.”
“God resists the proud,
But gives grace to the humble.”
So, back to my original question: Are people supposed to be perfect? There are different ways of looking at this. Does this mean perfect in talents, morals or character?
God demands moral perfection but all human beings fall short. As the Bible says: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” Romans 3:23. And character is connected to morals. But talents like spiritual gifts are given by God to be used for the common good. 1 Corinthians 12:7
Why do we become perfectionists? We become perfectionists to build up our sagging egos. But we also become perfectionists because we do not thoroughly believe that we have been justified by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. I learned this from the book Search for Significance by Robert McGee.³
So no, we are not to strive for perfection. First of all, we are not perfect, in anyway shape or form. If we think we are then we are fooling ourselves and trying to fool others. There will always be someone more talented or gifted. The most we can ever be is “practically perfect.” Only Jesus was absolutely perfect.
By faith we stand before a holy God in the complete perfection of Jesus Christ.
And finally, this is my greatest revelation. I have recognized that I am jealous of my sister. Jealousy is sin. Coveting another’s talents and gifts is sin. The Spirit says, “Confess it and be free!!”
Addendum: After finishing this post I remembered the story of Mary and Martha. I am a Mary. My sister is a Martha. Do you remember what Jesus said to Martha about Mary not helping her? “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:41-42 NIV, 1988
¹ A line from Mary Poppins.
² I learned from a doctor that trying too hard leads to depression.
³ Highly Recommended.
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