Two years ago I stopped cleaning my house. Not completely, just strategically when friends were coming over.
Do I sound like a crazy woman yet?
You see, I have a problem with perfection.
It eats at me.
I like things just so, just right, just…perfect.
And they never will be.
The weight of perfection was crushing me a few years ago and I knew a Band-Aid needed to be ripped off somewhere. My house was the easiest place to start. I began an adventure of fighting for imperfect.
I created a schedule for cleaning my house, because I like to fight germs and all that, and I held myself to the schedule. I refused to clean something just because someone was coming over. I had ruined too many cups of coffee with friends by getting up in the middle to clean that little place behind the toilet seat that never, ever seems clean. I had sat down to too many delightful dinners with friends filled with the anxiety of wondering what they would notice I missed.
My house example is so small in the grand scheme of what is important in life, but Paul reminds us in Galatians 2:15-19, that no piece of our lives should be ruled by perfection:
We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; 16 yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified. 17 But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we too were found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! 18 For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor. 19 For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God.
What are we living for?
I chase freedom like crazy with my spray bottle of vinegar and washcloth. I scrub and I scrub so that life feels more perfect and when you walk into my house you won’t judge me. I chase freedom in the law by assuming I’ll feel better if I can just appear a little more put together.
The law demands perfection.
For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. Romans 8:3-4 (emphasis added)
What kind of requirement is in the law? Righteous, yes. Right, justifiable, perfect, yes.
We can never live up to the law. God may not care how clean my house is, but I am, by nature, and by deed, imperfect. My house is just another reminder that there’s always something- I will never, never, “have it together.” It’s Biblical Truth.
But God, He does something more. He does something different. I am freed from perfection by Christ Jesus. He fulfilled what I cannot, so I can live for what matters – Gospel.
In fighting the urge to clean my house for you to visit me, I take perfection off the table in our relationship. I stop assuming judgement on your part, which was never really fair to begin with.
I do not clean for you, because if I clean for you that assumes that there is a judgement of what my house should look like, what you expect it to look like in order for us to maintain our relationship. But I believe better of you, my friend. I believe you love me enough to not judge me, to give Gospel and share grace. I believe that when you come over you come to see me, you don’t come to see any part of my house, that living to God means that relationship matters more than “just so.” The house is simply a platform, a location, a place that is warm and friendly, that we can gather.
I think dropping the assumption of judgement from others is the only way we can end all the judging. I will not judge you, I will not judge your house, I will not judge your family I will not judge your kids, I will simply be your friend and love you.
This seems to me very connected to the Gospel motivation Paul props up in Galatians 2:19:
For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God.
We died to the law. Literally died to it, in our baptism. All this judgement, one woman to another, perceived or real, it means nothing.
We need not aim for perfect. Christ already came to our “house,” our lives, our families, cleaned it up by His blood, proclaims us holy in Him. Now we just live there, proclaiming His gospel grace to one another.
Chasing perfect – It’s so tempting.
Dropping perfect – It’s a challenge.
Freedom in Christ – already won.
It is for freedom Christ has set us free… let’s live there.
What area of life do you struggle with trying to be perfect or at least avoid the judgement of others?
How can we help one another embrace more freedom from the judgement of others?
Chose one area of life – family, chores, work, exercise, volunteering, neighboring, ministry, etc. – what Gospel message do you need to hear there? How can you let the Holy Spirit motivate via the Gospel instead of seeking motivation through the law of should’s and must’s?