Life is not simple. But it gets a whole lot better when we all give up the notion of a perfect world. Sometimes life doesn’t make sense. Why do bad things happen to good people? I challenge the question: Who says we’re good? Why do good things happen to bad people. So, no easy answers. Even the authors of Scripture struggled with these questions. That’s why we need wisdom in a broken, imperfect world. We can’t answer every question and solve every puzzle, but we can trust God... Whoever fears God will avoid all extremes (7:18). Do you know that a predominant extreme is “perfectionism” (see verse 20)?
The book of Ecclesiastes, Solomon’s journal, is not linear, moving from A-Z. Rather, he “spirals” (Ecclesiastes 1:6) through the material instead of moving in a straight line – moving forward some, but circling back and revisiting previous themes. Now what Solomon does here in Ecclesiastes 7 is to launch into rapid fire proverbs and principles and essentially shows us the behavior patterns of wisdom.
An important life principle of wisdom is to reject the pursuit of perfectionism (7:20). Are you a perfectionist? Does any of this sound familiar? “If I can’t do it right, I won’t do it at all. I’m responsible for everyone else’s happiness. If I want something done right, I’m gonna have to do it myself. I work better under pressure. I can’t say no. I’m terrified of making mistakes or failing. I feel compelled to correct people in conversation. I feel like I have to prove my worth through my achievements. When I make a mistake, I feel horrified—as if I am a mistake.”
Trust God’s wisdom even when things aren’t perfect or they don’t add up. Life’s experiences do not always “add up.” Just remember, we lack the entire picture sometimes. To us, our imperfections are frustrating, but can God use the imperfect? You say the wrong thing at work. You read too much into a friend’s comment. You forgot an important item on your to-do list. Your mind is going a million miles a minute about all the things you didn’t get right. And over time, you have become your very worst critic…. If today looks like the thousands of days still ahead of your perfectly imperfect life, then rest assured, you will continue to be imperfect. Consider your bubble burst… Happy Mother’s Day!
KEY TALKING POINTS
Perfectionism creates unhelpful expectations about what life should be.
Perfectionism is suffocating in two ways: legalism and antinomianism.
Perfectionism will convince you that you are not enough.
Perfectionism will bully you into self-rejection.
Perfectionism is obsessed by what people think.
Perfectionism prevents you from being in the moment.
Perfectionism will ruin your relationships.
Perfectionism keeps you from becoming the best version of you.
When it comes to perfectionism, that’s why the gospel is good news. Jesus Christ, the righteous, sinless Son of God died on behalf of your sinfulness and mine. Hopefully, we grow in Jesus and make less messes. But we still make messes. Someday, in Jesus, we finally get it right and we are all we were meant to be – in heaven. Ditch the “Am I good enough?” Go with the “I am.” You’re enough in Him. We want so desperately somebody to say, “I’m proud of you.” That’s what God says when we own our imperfection. So pursue God, not compliments.
Why do bad things happen to good people? Who says we’re good? “That only happened once, and He volunteered.” Only Jesus was truly good. And He volunteered for the bad; it didn’t just happen to Him. Why? Because even though we’re capable of so much good, we did bad and we express that badness. Ecc. 7:22 for you know in your heart that many times you yourself have cursed others. Even if we do not have the wisdom to solve all the deep mysteries of life or to figure out everything there is to know about our place in the universe, we should at least be wise enough to see the deadly sin in our own hearts and to ask Jesus to be our Savior. We can never be perfect. We can never bat 1,000.
Often the disobedient are allowed long lives so that they will have opportunities to respond to God. Many old reprobates make it to age seventy, eighty, or ninety, without ever handing their lives over to Christ. The Lord’s mercy allows them to make it that far without being consumed. Patiently He waits. 2 Peter 3:9 states: “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”