There is a quote going around these days that says “I will hold myself to a standard of grace, not perfection.” This quote in itself seems harmless enough, catchy, and gives you “all the feels”.
But is it Biblical?
I have seen this quote on Pinterest and Instagram for months, and every time I read it, it doesn’t sit right with me. I have been praying for some clarity, and the Lord has shown me a few things I would like to share with you about the problem with this quote, the balance, and the solution.
The problem I have with this phrase is that it goes against God’s Word. Jesus said in Matthew 5:48, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” That word "perfect" is translated in the original Greek as "COMPLETE". Colossians 2:10 tells us that we are complete in Christ Jesus. So this "perfection" is already made possible in our completeness in Jesus Christ.
Can Christians really become morally perfect? Well, if God wrote it in His Word then it must be something attainable.
Paul told us that he himself was striving for perfection.
In Philippians 3:12, “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.” Even Paul admitted that he wasn’t already perfected, but he PRESSED ON toward perfection and all Christ had in store for him.
The problem is, by saying we hold ourselves to a standard of grace and NOT perfection we inherently give ourselves license to slack off.
How many times I have heard . . . “I lost it on my kids today. Oh well, grace not perfection”.
How often I myself have said, . . . .”I’m not perfect, I am allowed to just vent my frustrations every once in a while, aren’t I?”
How about, “I’m giving myself a little grace today . . . just one more chocolate won’t hurt.”
We CAN attain perfection IN CHRIST JESUS. Not in our own strength. Our perfection comes in our completeness in Him. Is it hard work? Yes. Will you have to sacrifice a lot of your flesh? Yes. Will perfection happen over night? Absolutely not. And that is where grace comes in.
To continually dismiss our sinful nature, or to continually push aside a shortcoming because you are holding yourself to a standard of grace is dangerous, and is not Biblical.
I believe with everything in the Word there is a balance.
The balance comes for those of you who are holding yourselves to the wrong standard. In that case, sister, you need to change your perspective.
God did not tell us that we should strive for perfection in our own strength. If we do that, we fail. We hold ourselves to a standard of Pinterest-Perfection . . . when we strive for perfection in our own strength. We hold ourselves to a standard of Facebook-Photo-Worthiness . . . when we strive for perfection in our own strength. Our standard should be Jesus Christ alone.
Whose standard of perfection are you holding yourself to?
Hollywood? . . . oh please! Hollywood is fake. Nothing there is real. Don’t hold yourself to a standard of false idols. Israel did that, and look what happened to them! (Exodus 32:1) You, my dear sister, are better than anything Hollywood has created because you were created in the image of a living God!
Pinterest? . . . Pinterest fads come and go. One day we are all making rainbow fruit skewers, and the next we are trying to make the glow orbs to go in our imaginary pools! (you know you tried them! LOL) Fads come and go . . . the Word of the Lord is forever.
Instagram and Social Media? . . . How many times have you said, “I wish I had her life!”. Think about that. You are looking at a 1x1 square and wishing you had their life? Girl! What is wrong with that? God didn’t make you THEM . . . He made you YOU. If you try to be like them, you are never going to reach the perfection Christ talks about. But if you just be you . . . you have a better chance of becoming more like your Heavenly Father by being complete in Him and not in someone else.
The balance comes in holding yourself to the standard of the Word and not the world. You will never be perfect as your Father is perfect if you are looking at everyone & everything else except your Father.
I think a better phrase is:
“I will hold myself to a standard of grace and not condemnation.”
That is the phrase that needs to be shared. When we fail . . . which we will . . . we must embrace the grace of our Heavenly Father instead of condemning ourselves.
Condemnation means to express complete disapproval of, to sentence someone to punishment especially death, criticize, revile, blame, chastise, reprimand, or berate. Those are some harsh definitions, and yet we constantly condemn ourselves.
How do we condemn ourselves? If you are like me, it’s in your thoughts.
“You are so stupid. How could you fail AGAIN? Haven’t we been through this a million times? You’d think by now you’d have conquered that mountain. Just give up on it. You will never get it right.”
We condemn ourselves by giving up on something God is calling us to perfect. You may have an idea for a business, but just can’t wrap your head around it so you give up because you can’t just get it perfect on the first go-around. You are condemning yourself to failure before you even start.
The Lord may be calling you to perfect the way you speak to others, to your husband, to your children, and instead of sacrificing the flesh, you condemn yourself by putting to death the call of God on filling your speech with grace.
Romans 8:1 tells us, “So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.”
If we belong to Christ Jesus, instead of Grace Not Perfection . . . we should be saying “Grace Not Condemnation”.
In 2 Corinthians 12:7, Paul talks about a thorn in his flesh. Something or someone (the Bible isn’t clear) that was sent to “torment him”. Whatever this thorn was, it was causing Paul some great problems in reaching the perfection he spoke about in Philippians 3:12.
But what he says in verse 8 and 9 is the key. He said that he asked. . . pleaded . . . . with the Lord three times to take away this thorn, and the Lord said,
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (Romans 12:9)
My dear sister, where there are thorns in your life that you are trying to overcome as you move toward perfection, God has already given you the grace to overcome. His power is perfected in your weakness. So hold yourself to a level of perfection in HIS power, but don’t condemn yourself if you slip and fall. His grace is there for you.
I urge you to create a movement in your life where you strive to be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect. I urge you to hold yourself to God’s standard of perfection and not the world’s standard. And I encourage you to strive toward perfection with grace in your hands, and condemnation far away from your lips.
Zechariah 4:6 tells us that it is, “Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.”. So with His power, hold yourself to a standard of Grace not Condemnation.