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You should always strive to do better, be better, and live better. I’m not suggesting passivity, resignation, losing hope, or ceasing from prayers for you or others. The key to striving for your best life now is to do it with the correct information, which means you must factor imperfection into your plans. Everywhere you look, you see signs of imperfection. Take a glance at this eclectic list. I’m sure you could add to it. Perhaps you may be on it.
Think about a woman’s fear of becoming older or larger or less attractive—whatever that means. The fear of aging is a big deal for some women, as they labor under the burden of our culture’s propagated view of physicality and sexuality. The world’s worldview tempts some to over-think sexuality and beauty. Their thoughts vacillate from overeating to undereating to shopping to exercise to physical alterations. You name it. If you were to look closer, examining their heart motivations, you’d find some of these familiar foes.
Though they appear to be free and empowered—the hope of feminists everywhere—they are, in reality, culturally enslaved people. Internal pressures bind their souls while transforming their bodies into objects that represent how they want others to perceive them. Whatever they believe is the expected way to be is the goal they seek to become. This kind of soul discontentment leaves them frustrated and fearful. The elusive beauty carrot is never possessed, though always craved, while the beauty of Christ is never secured (Psalm 27:4; 1 Peter 3:4). It is a horrible way for any Christian woman to live. Men are no different.
Many of us are stuck in lives we do not like or struggle with because we tie our reputations to the culture’s view of success. We want bigger and better, and just like a woman gazing over the beauty competition, we measure ourselves by our ability to look good in front of others. Coming up short or missing the mark is not an option for cultural slaves. This lie from the devil has been placed deep in our hearts. He was the one who first said God is not enough, and Adam and Eve submitted to his doctrine, and the rest of us fell in line with the deception (Genesis 3:1-7; Romans 5:12).
My objective here is not to talk you out of physical beauty, material blessings, or marital bliss. The primary goal is for you to see how the human condition will always fall short of perfection, no matter how hard we try (Romans 3:23). Nearly all counseling happens because somebody does not measure up; there is an undercurrent of dissatisfaction with something about themselves or a relationship that somehow connects to them. The counselee is unwilling (or they do not know how) to live imperfectly with imperfect people. I’m not suggesting they should not change, but the sweet spot of contentment is somewhere between striving for perfection and a lack of interest in changing.
No matter where we turn, people are frustrated. The only thing that will make them happy is if their circumstances changed to get what they want. If the discontentment is not with themselves, it is with other people. When not getting what you desire tempts you to sin, you have an idol in your life. Again, I’m not suggesting passivity; we must always work out what God is working into us, but we do this with the peace of God ruling our hearts. Perhaps answering the next question would provide the analysis a person needs to see who or what has rulership over the heart. Whatever you place in the blank, other than the Lord, is idolatry (Exodus 20:3).
“I could be satisfied if ______________.”
Take a look at these six people. Their struggles are common to all of us. Do you see what has rulership over their hearts?
The issue to consider is what primarily characterizes our general attitude and disposition during any given day? What controls us? Who or what has the most power over us? Does the Lord control our minds and emotions? What is the thing that tempts us to take our thoughts away from the stabilizing influence of the Lord? The most effective way to answer these questions is by how we respond when we do not get what we want. Let’s return to our six scenario friends. Here are a few of the obvious questions we would want to ask them.
Did you know there is a counterintuitive question, a better one? What if you turned your imperfection on its head? Rather than trying to solve the problem of imperfection by changing yourself, your friends, or your circumstances, what if you saw your imperfections as a means of grace for the Lord to use in your life?
Could the Lord want imperfection in our lives for our good and His glory? You find a clear example of this in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10. Paul was tempted to think too highly of himself. The Lord knew this, so He gave Paul a gift—a thorn in the flesh to harass His chosen servant. God gave this imperfection to help Paul become all he should be through Christ’s strength rather than his own (Philippians 4:11-13). As Paul reflected on his imperfect situation, he concluded,
So to keep me from being too elated by the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from being too elated (2 Corinthians 12:7).
Sometimes the harassment you feel in your life is from your loving Lord. He is “harassing” you to help you rely on Him rather than yourself. He gives you an imperfect life for His glory and your good. Paul did not readily embrace his imperfect life. He could do more without a thorn than with a thorn from his vantage point. What about you? I am not saying you should resign yourself to an imperfect life situation, especially if the changes you desire are biblical. What I am saying is your circumstances may not change, and if they do not, you have to guard your heart against responding sinfully to those unchanging conditions.
Suppose you are regularly sinning because your life, associations, or situations are not changing according to your expectations. In that case, you are stuck in idolatry. Sinful responses do not force the hand of God. Sinful reactions attract the opposing power of God in your life. The Lord will not partner with you or your sin if your motives, attitudes, and actions are not godly (James 4:6).
What if the Lord was able to use sin sinlessly in your life. You know, the way He did with Joseph (Genesis 50:20), with Paul (2 Corinthians 12:7-10), and the way He did with His Son (Isaiah 53:10). What if the Lord never wants to remove what you believe to be imperfect, wrong, or unfair? What if the Lord was the Author of your imperfection because He knows it is for your good (Romans 8:28)? I can think of at least four reasons He would do this for you.
1 – Imperfection Exists: I will not belabor this point because it is a fact: you will never attain perfection in life. You are a fallen individual who lives in a fallen world with other fallen people. There is an imperfect ceiling, and you live under it. The Lord has set the bounds (Genesis 11:6-7) of your life just like any good and loving parent would set the limits to their young child’s life. It is one of the early and essential lessons for any child (Acts 17:26-27).
Son, you are not omnipotent, omniscient, or omnipresent. You work within limits. God has made you a certain way, and the sooner you figure out what way that is and become copacetic with that way, the better off you will be. – Dad
2 – Imperfection Reminds: Paul needed reminding that he was not God. The Lord had blessed him with many revelations, which became a temptation source. It was not suitable for him to live in a frictionless world. Like all your strengths, they can quickly become liabilities if you do not regularly humble yourself before the Gift Giver. You are no different from Nebuchadnezzar, who lost sight of what he had, thinking the world revolved around him (Daniel 4:28-37).
3 – Imperfection Drives: If you understand your faults rightly, you will see them as vehicles to get to God rather than hindrances to a better life (2 Corinthians 1:8-9). Typically, the things perceived as wrong will move you in one of two directions. You will experience imperfection and turn to the Lord, or you will experience imperfection and turn to self-reliant means to resolve the imperfection. Your imperfections should humble you while driving you to the Lord. Since Genesis 3, humanity possesses a two-option system: we turn toward God or move toward destructive choices.
4 – Imperfection Permits: The beauty of your imperfections is they permit you to find God and enjoy Him while finding strength through Him. This perspective is vital when thinking about the wrong things in your life. It explains why Paul repented of his complaining while embracing his imperfection. He learned the secret to his best life now. It was not through perfection but imperfection (2 Corinthians 12:10).
I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me (Philippians 4:11-13).
The wise person can live in an imperfect world. This person is constantly striving toward Christ while understanding some of the means to enjoy Christ may come through personal weakness and disappointment (Matthew 16:24; Philippians 1:29). The wise person does not give up on pursuing excellence, but the things that are not his at this moment do not control him. The wise person has learned the wisdom of Paul. Think about the next major decision you want to make. Maybe it’s not a big decision, but you must decide so you can move forward.
Rick launched the Life Over Coffee global training network in 2008 to bring hope and help for you and others by creating resources that spark conversations for transformation. His primary responsibilities are resource creation and leadership development, which he does through speaking, writing, podcasting, and educating.
In 1990 he earned a BA in Theology and, in 1991, a BS in Education. In 1993, he received his ordination into Christian ministry, and in 2000 he graduated with an MA in Counseling from The Master’s University. In 2006 he was recognized as a Fellow of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC).