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Growing in Faith

By: Kerry Lytle

September 30, 2023

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Ephesians 2:8-9, New King James Version

"For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast." 

Have you ever watched the Olympics? They must be as perfect and flawless as they can be. Take gymnastics. In order to get the gold medal and receive a perfect score from the judges, they have to nail every move, every flip and turn, every landing...without wavering. They must be perfect and flawless in order to receive the gold. They practice and put their bodies through strenuous workouts and practices to be as perfect as they can be. One mess up, one fall, one wavering step could cost them the gold. How about in our spiritual lives? Is that how it is? Must we be perfect and flawless in order for God to use us or receive our crown? Of course not. God’s grace is so amazing that He accepts every imperfection we have.

 

Our culture has its own ideas of what success and perfection look like. As a follower of Christ, success looks like one thing…obeying God and following His will for your life - nothing else. It’s not about following rules just because, or becoming our own idea of perfection. It’s about letting your mind and heart be transformed and renewed by God so that your life can be a living testimony of His glory and goodness.

 

The truth is perfection is not just a ridiculously high standard; it’s an impossible standard. This truth can be stated in Romans 3:10, which says, "None is righteous, no, not one."

 

We can be our worst and toughest critic. We can easily give grace to other people, but terrible at giving it to ourselves. I expect perfection, not from others, but from myself.

 

We base our worth and righteousness on our good deeds. Every time we do something “for” God, we give ourselves a pat on the back. Every time we fall short, we tear ourselves down.  

 

Think about it: If we were all perfect, we wouldn’t need Jesus. The whole reason Jesus came to earth and died for you, and I is because we are not able to achieve perfection.

 

We all fall short, even as children of God. Though we are being made into the likeness of Christ, we are not yet perfect like Him. I had to realize this. I will never be perfect on this side of Heaven. And you know what? That’s okay! It took me a while to see it, but now I understand that God doesn’t expect perfection from me. So why do I expect it from myself? God has called us to love Him with all of our heart, mind, soul, and strength, to love others as ourselves, and lay down our life to follow Christ. Nowhere in the Bible does it say if you are not completely perfect at following God then you are disqualified from the gift of salvation.

 

I think if God had a message for us about trying to be perfect it would look something kind of like this.

 

My child, I don’t expect you to be perfect. You will make mistakes, you will sin, and you will make choices in your life that will hurt you, others, and me. But I love you so much that through My grace and sacrifice I AM giving you a new opportunity, a new hope. I just ask that you try your very best to follow Me, to learn and grow from the mistakes you do make, and to lead a freeing and empowering life through Me. 

 

Whether it’s parenting, marriage, working at our job or just living life, we will never do it all right. And that’s not the goal. Let’s be people who are honest enough to admit our mistakes and imperfections and our need for Jesus each and every minute of the day!

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