Progress Not Perfection
. . . This people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me . . . Isaiah 29:13
I find myself disliking today’s passage, as it reminds me of my own hypocrisy, past and present. When I read about those who follow God only with empty words, I am reminded of my drug addiction. The temptation in recovery now, is to think that I’ve got it all figured out, but any shred of honesty will reveal that I’m still a hypocrite at times. I still fail, claiming to honor God with Sunday’s words, while Monday’s actions reveal that my heart is inclined towards myself.
We Christians, are all hypocrites at one time or another. We claim to follow Christ with our words, while our actions reveal that at times, we follow ourselves. So, we either beat ourselves up in shame, or we dismiss the inconsistency, embracing God’s grace and mercy.
As those who claim to follow Christ, we live in a constant state of conflict with ourselves. In Christ, we have been born again into a new perfect spirit life, in which we are forgiven and free. We carry this tremendous gift though, in a flawed vessel of the flesh. Our spirit and flesh are in continual conflict as the flesh wages war against our soul (1 Peter 2:11).
The Christian life to me then, is this: To live in continual recognition of our short-comings, without dismissing them or being paralyzed by them. Daily, we must acknowledge our hypocrisy, while simultaneously embracing God’s patience, forgiveness and mercy. As AA says, we should claim spiritual progress, not spiritual perfection. Failure can lead to more failure, or it can lead to growth.
God, show me today how I fail to live consistently with my beliefs. Allow me to bask in your love, patience and mercy without using your grace as justification to live however I want. I desire that your kindness continually leads me to repentance. Even though I fail daily, I want to daily grow in love for, knowledge of, and obedience towards you.