I've written about three different versions of this post; it's a subject that I need to prepare as a topic for a women's ministry event (so if you want to hear more, ask me to come speak to your group!) because there is no way to really handle it completely here, even if I made it a series of postings. So, this is like the Reader's Digest Condensed version...
I am a perfectionist. Unfortunately, I am NOT perfect. Not even close. This is a highly irritating reality to people like me, cause I wanna be the “Super Jesus Girl” as Angela Thomas puts it (if you don’t know who she is, google her name and buy one of her books…you’ll be glad you did!).
This past week, God has given me lots of chances to see just how imperfect I am. Moments when I've felt like the worst Mom in the world. Moments when I’ve fallen to the same sin I’ve fallen to umpteen times before, and I wonder if I will EVER learn. Moments when pride has brought me low, when anger has bested me, when a “little white lie” came out before I even thought about it.
Now, we all mess up from time to time. But there are times when it seems like our mistakes just come in spades, when you make mistakes trying to correct your mistakes, when you realize you’ve committed a sin right on the heels of asking forgiveness for the last sin you committed…this is what my week has been like, and it makes me want to just crawl in bed, and cancel the rest of the week. But God decided HE kinda liked this week (cause He made it...) and He thought He'd just stick with it.
And then I remember that evidently, Paul sometimes felt the same way:
“For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do... I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am!" Romans 7:15-24
I love this passage in Romans because I think of Paul as such a great man of God, and he was…but he sometimes felt the same way I do, like he just couldn’t get it right!!
BUT…Paul added one other little detail, a detail that we need desperately to remember when we feel defeated by our faults:
“Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Romans 7:25
God KNOWS we won’t always get it right!! That’s why He not only sent His Son to die for us, but He sent Him to Live through us, too…"I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live; yet NOT I, but Christ liveth in me, and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me.” Galatians 2:20
There is just ONE way for me to ever defeat sin in my life, and that is to let Jesus live through me. Think of your “flesh” nature and your “spiritual” nature as two dogs living inside you. These dogs keep getting into fights (okay, dog fighting might be a touchy subject just now…but just hang with me!). Which dog is gonna win? The strongest one; the one that’s been fed right, exercised, and taken care of. Well, then, which dog are you taking the best care of? Do you “feed” your spirit with Scripture, prayer, preaching, uplifting music? Or are you feeding your flesh with inappropriate TV shows, movies, foul language and jokes (saying them OR listening to them), music that has questionable lyrics…
Do you “exercise” your spirit? The Scripture is full of ways to do that—GO and tell others about Jesus, DO something good for someone in need and let them know why you’re doing it, FORGIVE someone you’re angry with, RECONCILE with a brother…pretty much anywhere you see a verb in the Bible, it’s an opportunity to “exercise” your spirit. But instead, we exercise the flesh instead—I know, you’re thinking “exercise” is the farthest thing in the world from what you do with your flesh…but I’m not talking about jumping jacks here. I’m talking about actions...is the flesh involved more in your actions or is the Spirit?
Just an example...I could wallow in my pity and focus on the mistakes I've made this week and become pretty negative...or I could sit down and write a blog post about how to learn a spiritual lesson through this experience...guess which one I chose?!...
Which dog do you want to win? What are you doing to make sure of victory? That's the one you need to feed...let the other one starve for awhile (good grief, now I'm even getting into animal abuse...just in case the ASPCA is reading this, remember, these are NOT real dogs...if you have a real dog, please be nice to it..).
Finally, here’s a bit of encouragement…I needed it, so I’m guessing maybe you do too:
God’s not done with you, and He’s NOT giving up, ever, on making you what He knows you can be.
“being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6Now, excuse me, I've got a dog to feed…