Have you ever seen an unbeaten sports team go out and lose to the worst team in the league? Sometimes this happens because of the pressure of perfect. It’s hard to be good all the time. The pressure builds as we expect to mess up at any time. The odds are against us, right? “No one can be perfect. Who am I to think I can be?” When we finally do mess up, it relieves an enormous amount of pressure. “Now, I’m just like everyone else.” Or… “Now, that’s the me I’m used to!”
Our self-image is so difficult to escape. It’s like a rubber band that can be stretched but snaps back time after time. If you have a self-image that views yourself as a sinful person, getting away from habitual sin is going to be difficult. You will find yourself walking in the center of God’s will for a period of time and getting more and more uncomfortable. “How long can I keep this up?” your subconscious mind may wonder. “It’s so unlike me.”
If the disparity between our self-image and our behaviors becomes too great, we have ways of snapping the rubber band back into place. We sabotage ourselves by sinning – sometimes purposefully but often under some strange and unidentifiable compulsion. Afterward, we wonder why we did it. It wasn’t enjoyable; it made us feel terribly guilty; we knew we shouldn’t do it before we did it…But this sin releases the pressure on the rubber band. It snaps back to its original shape, the shape that is most comfortable to us, because it’s where we’ve been living for years.
There are several lies of the Enemy behind the pressure of perfect.
- “You are approaching perfection.” – No matter how good you get, you’ll never be perfect, so relax. There’s still plenty of sin in your life to keep you from being too good.
- “You can’t keep this up forever.” – Sure you can! You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness. It’s possible (though not very imaginable) to never sin another day in your life.
- “The costs outweigh the benefits.” – Yes, you might lose some friends, feel uncomfortable, enjoy less titillation, have to bite your tongue once in awhile…but God will give you back more than you lose (every time).
Instead of thinking of ourselves as trying to be perfect, we should just settle for trying to be better than we were yesterday. Inch by inch, it’s a cinch. Yard by yard, it’s hard. Mile by mile, it’s a trial. A little bit of progress each day makes us more and more like Jesus, and our small successes will stretch that rubber band so that it holds its shape.