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Leave me my mistakes

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I hate mistakes.  Errors, wrong decisions, sub par performance, anything filling the vast gray area just shy of outright sin.  Responding to sin is simple, we confess our rebellion, ask forgiveness and repent.  What about honest mistakes, those decisions made with a clear conscience, yet we find are misguided?  A decision to change jobs, start a ministry, move your family.  I find just as much anxiety and stress under the burden of potential mistakes as I do from clear sin.  Perhaps more.

Psychologists define perfectionism as a belief that perfection can and should be attained.  It is the former half where we find a question with theological implications.  If we’ve read more than three verses in the bible we know perfectionism is pure hubris.  In fact God seems to take a certain pleasure in mocking our naive pursuit of a flawless life, always casting fumbling characters as the heroes of His plot.

None of us really believe perfection can be attained.  Or if you do, you’re probably not reading this essay.  Yet many of us still struggle mightily with the repercussions of second tier perfectionism.  In my own life, I see this tendency play out in how I trust God.  More specifically, how I trust God with the very opposite of perfection, the mistake. Our response to these blunders gives us a piercing look into how we view God.

The problem lies in the double standard.  As a mature Christian we well understand our Lord’s sovereignty over the actions of those around us.  We trust He is in control of the circumstances, the decisions, even the mistakes of those around us.  How else could we live in this world.  Yet this very comfort and grace we willingly approve for the entire world, we dare not let touch ourselves.  As if quarantined from His loving hand, we imagine God scowling down in contempt and spite, letting us wallow in our error.

It is here we go astray, picking between two great lies.  We either imagine our lives free of any accountability for our actions, or we live under the enormous weight of perfection.  The first is an error when we believe God will never love us enough to let us reap what we have sown.  The second fails when we believe that is all God will ever do.  We relish His grace for our salvation and our sins, but our decisions we suffer alone, far away from His mercy.  Let us not live under such lies.

If we believe a separate class of grace exists for our mistakes or wrong decisions, we should question our understanding of God’s goal for our life.  If we truly believe His goal is to make us holy, we would be far less concerned with perfect decisions.  It is the mistakes the Lord uses most grandly in His process of redemption.

Let us turn our focus from the prideful bondage of perfectionism and walk instead with the peace prepared for His humble servants.

Comments

Comment from Melissa McEwen
Time October 31, 2008 at 2:08 am

Question: In your short essay above, what are eluding to as the difference between sin and mistakes?

Comment from jrmallory
Time October 31, 2008 at 10:28 am

After rereading, I see the confusion. I made some changes, hopefully this helps! When I think of sin, I picture obvious rebellion against God’s will. Mistakes, at least for the sake of this essay, I imagine as poor decisions. Of course, we could say that most poor decisions contain an underlying sin… Here though, I am speaking of wrong decisions made apart from any conscious, willful sin.

Comment from Melissa McEwen
Time October 31, 2008 at 2:03 pm

Okay, that provide much more clarity. I said it before, and I’ll say it again. I’m simple minded. In response, yet another question. How do you propose one just chooses to walk in His peace? I mean, for me, that’s a real struggle. Let me add, I have peace because of salvation, but I don’t know how to walk in peace when it comes to unconscience mistakes or outright sin that’s been washed away. Difficult.

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