To me it’s not irony that in one week I counseled three women who felt stuck after some mistakes they made. They didn’t think they could move on, not have the mistakes loom, feel worthy to excel, become better as a result of their mistakes, fully forgive themselves as God had already forgiven them. What is it when we get stuck, think we have to condemn ourselves even when God doesn’t condemn us but declares there is no condemnation for us and forgets our sins as far as the east is from the west (Romans 8:1; Psalm 103:12)? I believe God wants us to know that this is an unrealistic view of perfectionism, the teaching that perfection is possible in human beings. The three women I counseled have this view and they represent a larger group of us who suffer, even occasionally, from perfectionism. We have a God-complex. Of course we would never say that we are God but we essentially displace Him when we exchange His standards for ours.
See with a God-complex we create a view of God other than what He presents of Himself in His Word. When you look in the Bible you see that God is all-loving, merciful, gracious and forgiving (John 3:16-17; Lamentations 3:22-23; 1 Peter 2:3; Psalm 103:12). Yes, you also see that He is a God of wrath, but for believers in Jesus Christ this wrath is only seen in direct response to our sins when we 1) lie to God knowing that we have already committed to doing the opposite of what we have told God and 2) decide to make a lifestyle of our sins and not seek God in repentance (Acts 5:1-11; 1 Corinthians 3:16-17; Hebrews 12:5-11; 1 John 1:9). But when we take on a God-complex in spite of what the Bible says about how God responds to our sins, we treat ourselves and others as we believe God should treat us.
We believe we should punish ourselves because God is not doing His job in punishing us. We believe we have fallen short of perfection so we must punish ourselves until we reach that perfection. We, therefore, walk around depressed, self-loathing, complaining and accusing. We stop praying because we believe God doesn’t want to talk to us. We say in our souls, “If I were God, I wouldn’t talk to someone who did that,” regarding whatever sin you perpetually punish yourself or others for. Condemnation—judgment—is reserved for God, and we have no business judging people, which is giving a sentence, especially one the Lord never gives, to another. We must view ourselves correctly, knowing we can and should judge our circumstances and expect God’s response according to His Word and not what we believe His Word should be (Matthew 7:1-2; John 7:24). Viewing humans correctly—never expecting all perfection—is truly a radical act of love toward humans and above all God.
Take a Risk Challenge: This week encourage instead of punish someone you have been holding to your own standards. Remember, where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty. Free yourself and others by walking by God’s Spirit and not your human-led spirit, which is always a radical act of love.
My One Thousand Gifts List
Justus grabbing me by the hand to lead me to the toilet so he could use it
Attending Candace’s Girl Scouts banquet and seeing little ladies learning to be leading ladies
A laugh with my mama about her mistaking romaine lettuce for collard greens
Being more and more committed to loving my husband more graciously
Justus tapping me vigorously and me turning around and getting a big hug from him
Justus and Nate greeting each other with big smiles and hugs in the morning
Planting flower pots with Joshua and Nate being our watering assistant
Buying and planting flowers after four years of not doing so
Justus falling to sleep in my lap
A wonderful God-centered visitation at Pelham Love’s home-going service