Progress Over Perfection
Guest Post By: Caroline Hadley
So many people believe their worth resides in how hard they work. If you believe this, you aren’t alone; I used to think the same thing. I tried to find my worth in stellar report cards, a perfect diet, and an excessive exercise routine. I thought that by stretching myself so thin I could hardly breath it would make me worth more to God.
I was wrong.
If you don’t believe me, look at one of Jesus’ final actions: He was crucified next to two criminals who were justly accused of doing wrong. Yet, when the one criminal professed his faith in Christ, He saved him.
If Jesus would pardon a criminal simply for having faith, why wouldn’t He pardon you and I?
Imagine going to Heaven. Do you envision an angry God on the other side of the pearly gates? Personally, I thought I’d get to Jesus and fall to my knees, sobbing and begging Him not to send me to Hell even though I didn’t deserve to be saved.
But, though we don’t deserve it, we are saved. So instead of a sob-fest or an eternal flogging, imagine this:
Jesus lifts you up, wipes away your tears, and leads you along a bright white pathway. He helps you because your legs are wobbly and you’re tired. Tired of yourself and of trying to please a God that never seems satisfied with you. You think you are a disappointment. You are astounded by Jesus’ behavior, but still in your heart you doubt God will listen to anything His Son says about you.
You make it to God’s throne, the moment you’ve always dreaded, and you almost fall to your knees again, but Jesus holds you up.
Jesus smiles at His Father. Your Father.
And He says, “Abba, this is my friend, [your name]. She has been through a lot and I’m proud of her. What do You think about her?”
God looks down at you and steps off His throne. You can feel the heat emanating from Him in waves, but it’s not uncomfortable. It’s perhaps the most comforting thing you’ve ever felt. He puts a hand on your shoulder and then you begin to see the compassion in His eyes. He pulls you toward Him. No, not just toward Him, into Him. He envelops you until all you see and hear and smell and feel is the love He has for you. He is only thinking about you in this moment. Then He whispers softly in your ear, “You did your best. You have pleased me, and you are welcome here, for Heaven is the home for all of My followers.”
Only through Jesus’ death are we made perfect: “For by a single offering [Jesus] has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified” (Hebrews 10:14). Thus, when you accept Jesus, you can enjoy the process of serving Him because you are already perfect and worthy of His love.
But what does that mean? Instead of relentlessly pursuing perfection, aim for progress. Work on little things every day, acting like somebody who’s already going to heaven, because the truth is you are. Understand where your worth comes from so your service to God pours forth from love rather than fear.