Does the Bible say anything about perfectionism?

The most important thing to remember about perfectionism is that perfection is not achievable. Individuals attach themselves to perfectionism for many reasons, but each reason results in the inability to reach their high standards. Often, these standards are way higher than anybody else or even God expects from them!

Romans 3:23 states that "ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (emphasis added). This clearly shows that regardless of how hard we try, every single human will fail at being perfect. The whole message of the gospel is based around Christ saving us. If we were perfect, there would be no need for a savior. We are forgiven for all of our shortcomings and flaws. This is great news because we can rest in the knowledge that Jesus was the only perfect human, and we do not have to strive for the unachievable.

A great example of Jesus calling someone out of perfectionism occurs in Luke 10. Jesus visits two sisters named Mary and Martha who sit at His feet and listen to His teaching. Mary sat engaged, hanging on Jesus' words while Martha was distracted by striving to serve Jesus. Jesus eventually tells Martha to rest because she is "troubled about many things," and calls her to abide in His presence with her sister (Luke 10:41–42).

Matthew 5:48 calls us to "be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect," but the Greek word for "perfect" gives us a better insight to what this really means for us. Translated, the word is telios, which means "brought to its end, completed, or perfect." Perfection is completed in Christ, in reliance on Him. We are also reminded in Philippians 1:6 that completion is the work of Christ, and He is the one who carries us towards it.

Although God is ultimately the one who grows us and transforms us, we are to work ourselves as well. This does not mean striving, as in perfectionism, but we do have a responsibility to take care of and grow our faith (2 Peter 3:18). We must cooperate with God and let Him lead us in making us whole and perfect in His timing and in His perfect planning. Instead of focusing on how perfect we appear to ourselves and others, we must refocus our heart's posture towards God.

Related Truth:

What is a biblical definition of success? What does the Bible say about success?

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Does the Bible say anything about anxiety?

What does the Bible teach about patience?

Progressive sanctification—What is it?

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