Why Can’t They Just be Perfect?

I don’t consider myself a perfectionist. I confess that my closet is often full to over-flowing, my purse is a disorganized, cluttered abyss and my daily routines not always even close to being routine. Unlike my husband who has a well-thought-out plan and system for most everything, right down to how he cuts his toenails and where he puts the clippings… I on the other hand pride myself in being flexible, unencumbered with petty details, and definitely more-fun-loving. However I’ve come to a startling realization… though tolerating a fair-size chunk of ineptness in myself, I keep expecting nothing short of 5-star, A-plus perfection in others. Don’t get me wrong… I totally get it, that no one’s perfect. Still, at a way-I-live-my-life level, I require that secret standard for everyone but me!

I’m particularly hard on the self-proclaimed Christ-followers among my social circle. I want my husband, children, extended family, friends, co-workers and church leaders to be stellar models of the Christian life. In my opinion they should be unblemished specimens of Holy Spirit fruit. You know… the love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and self-control that the apostle Paul talks about in Galatians 5:22. When these individuals fall short in such significant areas, I get bent out of shape.

Oh, I usually don’t get observably angry, but I nevertheless feel irritated and critical and even tend to mentally question their spiritual sincerity. How ironic… the non-perfectionist demanding perfection. Didn’t Jesus address this double standard in one of His most famous addresses?

“Why worry about a speck in the eye of a brother when you have a board in your own? Should you say, ‘Friend, let me help you get that speck out of your eye,’ when you can’t even see because of the board in your own? Hypocrite! First get rid of the board. Then you can see to help your brother.” (Matthew 7:2-5)

Jesus also said, “You are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). Whoa, that’s a tall order. I know I’m nowhere near His kind of perfection. And I suspect His kind of perfection has a whole lot more to do with my attitudes and lifestyle than with how I organize my office. It’s those attitude/lifestyle habits that I recognize need a lot of improvement.
In fact when I examine the glaringly huge “board” loaded with my own rotten “fruit,” somehow the faults of others shrink in size and consequence.

It’s rather freeing actually… to not have to mentally assess and fix everyone else. I can just love them the way they are… which is probably not much different than the way I am… a very imperfect child of God, in the process of being made more holy day by day, a little at a time. And for this “closet” perfectionist, that is perfectly fine with me!