Detoxifying Your soul
Striving for Excellence
We often confuse the words excellence and perfection. Striving for excellence is a noble aim, but perfection, as the world describes it—being spotless, faultless, and flawless—is humanly unobtainable. Society dictates its view of perfection to us in areas such as physical appearance, self–seeking achievements, worldly knowledge, and sterling reputation.
If we are not careful, such expectations are bound to become unrealistic. They lead to damaging comparisons, and we become blind to the flaws in the ideal that we strive to attain.
Matthew 5:48 says, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” This verse is often misconstrued as instructions to become “Holy Ghost, Junior” (a judgmental and critical spirit). We all know that there is only one God and you and I are not He!
The MESSAGE Bible paraphrase of this verse makes the biblical idea of perfection understandable. “In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God–created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.”
The theme of this series is the detoxification of the soul. In this series, we have looked at staying focused and not being overwhelmed by clutter in our spiritual lives; finding a place for the soul, which includes chiseling out time and space for our personal, spiritual growth; and now, we’re looking at striving for excellence and not getting paralyzed or bogged down by the idea of perfection.
Being “perfect” is living out your God–created identity. What is it that makes you, you? What enlivens you? What stirs your passions and makes you exclaim, “For this I was born!”? The answers to these questions reveal God’s tailor–made image of perfection for you.
In Christ’s presence, name the passion that you desire for yourself, rather than for your family, co–workers, or church community members. This isn’t an act of selfishness. Jesus repeatedly asks His followers, “What do you want from me?”
Take your time in understanding your desire. We tend to be uncomfortable asking for things for ourselves. We are taught to think about everyone else’s needs, rather than our own.
But your God–breathed desire is what makes you who you are. If we do not take the time to understand that desire and who we are in Christ, our spirits will become polluted with toxins such as the addiction to approval, the seduction of ambition, or the relentless management of our image.
Being perfect “… as your heavenly Father is perfect” is not a life sentence of pursuing yet never meeting some unrealistic mark. Instead, being perfect means being free to be who we are created to be.
Today, be uniquely you. This is your mark of excellence. Worldly imperfections will fall away as we pursue God’s will for our lives.
part four of a five–part series
by Major Lauren Hodgson
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