Perfectionism

April 5, 2019

“Do not seek the perfection of the law in human virtues, for it is not found perfect in them. Its perfection is hidden in the Cross of Christ.” (St. Mark the Anchorite)

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“Ultimately the spiritual cure for perfectionism is given to us by St. Paul: "For if anyone thinks of himself as something, whereas he is nothing he deceives himself" (Gal 6:3). "God forbid I should glory save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom the world is crucified in me" (Gal 6:14). Here lies true perfection.” (Father George Morelli)

 

“In Genesis 2, when God saw all that He had made, He said it was very good, including the creation of the man and woman. God was like a river for man that would lead humanity to perfection. Man was a created vessel on that river intended to follow God’s flow and current. God’s intent was always that the man and woman would continue down that river, reflecting God perfectly as His children.” (Father David L. Fontes, PsyD)

 

“Probably the greatest source of false guilt is perfectionism—that inner voice that says you can do more, be more, achieve more. Perfectionism is both a driver for great expectations and a reminder that you are not achieving enough. When you compare yourself to this standard of perfection, you can never achieve enough.” (David Hawkins)

 

"To be sure, I need to desire perfection and strive for it. But it is in God’s power, not mine, to make perfect and to sanctify, at His pace and in His time…Salvation does not require that we achieve perfection in this life, only that we strive for it." (Sr. Dr. Vassa Larin, Father Spyridon Baily)

 

made perfect. This phrase means “made complete.” (Foundation Study bible, Hebrew 11:40)

“When Christ says, “Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48), He’s not speaking of getting a perfect score on a test, but of being whole, being in a state of communion, participating fully in God’s love.” (Jim Forest)

 

“To make . . . perfect through sufferings does not suggest there was imperfection in Christ before the cross. Rather He voluntarily took on human nature (all of one nature, Hebrews 2:11), which can be saved and perfected only by the suffering of death. Christ is the pioneering captain of the narrow path to God in His suffering for sin, death, descent into hell, Resurrection, and Ascension. In salvation we take on Christ's way of sufferings.” (Orthodox Study Bible, Hebrews 2:10-11)

 

“The Christian has no other perfection than the perfection of Christ. The deeper his insight into the character of his Lord, as having been made perfect by being brought into perfect union with God’s will through suffering and obedience, the more clearly will he apprehend wherein that redemption which Christ came to bring really consists, and what the path is to its full enjoyment.” (Andrew Murray)

 

“The road to perfection is not through efforts of self-improvement, at least not in the way most people think. Perfection to Christians means being made complete, not achieving an exalted state of excellence. Self-improvement to Christians is achieved through sacrifice and self-denial. We strive to deny ourselves and our own ego based cravings to unite ourselves to Christ and love others. Because Christ is a wounded healer who assumed our sufferings in His humanity, we become refined and grow towards Him and in Him through our own sufferings and it is in this manner that we become perfected, that is, made complete.” (Sacramental Living Blog)

 

"Be you therefore perfect, as also your heavenly Father is perfect." (Mat. 5:48) These words that Jesus Christ gave to His apostles, disciples and the multitude on the Mount must be taken to heart by every follower of Jesus Christ. We can look to the Church Fathers to help us understand what "being perfect" really means. The Fathers were surprisingly realistic in understanding the rich spiritual meaning of these words. They were far from the modern meaning of the term…” (Father George Morelli)

 

“…perfection, it means one thing in a secular context but should mean quite another if you are Christian...perfected. The Greek term means mature or complete, finished. It does not specifically mean a moral or sinless perfection. Paul is not speaking of moral perfection or righteousness but of reaching the state of completion as a Christian." (Sacramental Living Blog, Foundation Study Bible, Philippians 3:12)

 

“Noah is called “righteous,” a characteristic further emphasized by his also being called “perfect” (Genesis 6:9). In the original, this word implies that he is effectively a complete or whole person. When Noah is described as “perfect in his generation” (Gn 6:9), we understand that his inner character accords with God’s standard. In other words, he comes very close to being that which every person is meant to be. As a righteous man, Noah is morally predictable and habitually trustworthy: he is reliable in business, in the company of other men’s wives, in handling money and valuables. He is pleasing to God.” (Dynamis 3/5/2018)

 

“To be perfect, one must willingly sacrifice all and follow Christ. Nothing is gained unless this sacrifice is given freely. The specifics of how one follows Christ will be different for each person.” (Orthodox Study Bible, Luke 19:21)

 

“The rule of life for a perfect person is to be in the image and likeness of God.” (St. Clement of Alexandria)

 

“Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48). What did Christ mean? Should we always strive for perfectionism? Is it ever okay for something, or someone, to be just good enough?...is good enough a standard to strive for, or should we strive for perfection? The answer depends on your definitions and understanding of those terms. Standard secular connotations of what perfect and good enough mean are different than how we should understand them in a Christian context…In Christianity,"Perfection is to love everyone.” In the secular world…"being perfect" is understood as"perfectionism" and regarded as a cognitive-emotional aberration by mental health clinicians and researchers.” (Sacramental Living II, Theophylact of Ochrid, Father George Morelli)

 

"One of the major irrational beliefs that cause and sustain disturbing emotions and unproductive behavior is a perfectionistic personal rule that"one should be thoroughly competent, adequate, and achieving in all possible respects if one is to be considered worthwhile...” The inherent irrationality of perfectionism can be seen by considering that no one can be masterful in all things, and that it is often accompanied by undue anxiety, stress and physical disorders. Focusing on trying to excel over others, or considering perfection as the measure of our personal worth by demanding perfection of oneself, distracts us from task-attention and from making the appropriate choices to achieve success.” (Father George Morelli)

 

"Tragically, perfectionists think other people will like them better for their perfection. But truthfully, it is just the opposite. People like to be around flexible, tolerant, imperfect people— like themselves. Perfect people frighten them and cause them to withdraw.”  (Jim Conway)

 

“Ultimately perfection does not come from the individual but from God."But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto His eternal glory in Christ. Jesus, after you have suffered a little, will Himself perfect you and confirm you and establish you" (1 Peter 5:10)…The psychological model of perfection is very different. Individuals suffering from this malady are motivated by a fear of failure and sense of duty. They strive to be in first place in all manner of endeavors but their accomplishments never seem to satisfy them. They believe there is a special quality to acquiring"perfection." The flawless expression of particular characteristic such as intelligence or the mistake-free application of a specific skill is the only way to earn self-esteem and achieve the sense of being special.” (Father George Morelli)

 

"We have within us deeply rooted weaknesses, passions, and defects. This cannot all be cut out with one sharp motion, but patience, persistence, care and attention. The path leading to perfection is long. Pray to God so that He will strengthen you. Patiently accept your falls and, having stood up, immediately run to God, not remaining in that place where you have fallen. Do not despair if you keep falling into your old sins. Many of them are strong because they have received the force of habit. Only with the passage of time and with fervor will they be conquered. Don't let anything deprive you of hope.” (St. Nectarios of Aegina)

 

"The word perfect means"mature or complete,” not"flawless…In the Bible, perfect usually means completeness or maturity…God wants to make us mature and complete” (Life Application Study Bible, Colossians 1:28-29, Hebrews 5:9, James 1:2-4)

 

“Perfection is Christian maturity, the result of spiritual growth.” (Orthodox Study Bible, Hebrews 6:1)

 

“It may sound strange, but frequently a person with a poor self-image tends to be a perfectionist. If you feel inadequate, unsure of other people’s love, then you start saying to yourself,"If only I try harder, if I achieve more, if I’m a better person, then I’ll feel better about myself and other people will love me.” (Jim Conway)

 

“Human perfectionism is often about the ego. It is about what we can achieve through our own wills and efforts. While not inherently wrong to strive for excellence, we can often get blinded in our self-motivated perfectionism…” (Sacramental Living II)

 

“I know I will experience a growth and a maturity, the type of perfection Christ advocated, if I live for Him and in Him and strive for it knowing that it is not just my effort alone, but my effort to let Him guide me in my heart and mind. The trick is not to seek perfectionism but to seek perfection through a humble admission of my limitations, yet offering all I have in constant service of Him. It will be through Him and because of Him that I grow towards being perfect.” (Sacramental Living II)

 

“It’s hard for a perfectionist like me, but I have to admit I can never be good enough. No matter how sound my strategy, how much I study, how hard I work—I’ll always be a failure when it comes to being perfect. Yet God loves me anyway. And believing that gives me the greatest sense of peace, calm, and security in the world.” (Tom Landry)

 

“Godliness is perfection that is never complete." (St. Philotheos of Sinai)

 

“Christian maturity involves acting on the guidance that you have already received. We can always make excuses that we still have so much to learn. The instruction for us is to live up to what we already know and live out what we have already learned. We do not have to be sidetracked by an unending search for truth.” (Life Application Study Bible, Philippians 3:16)

 

"How could I possibly be the apple of God’s eye when my behavior is not yet perfect? Because green apples are apples too! One day I shall be a mature September apple, perfectly formed. But, for now, I am still growing.” (Alice Chapin)

 

“...perfectionism also fails to realize that God loves unconditionally. God doesn’t withhold love until we arrive at perfection. He loves us while we are growing and even while we are his enemies. His love enables us to change and mature."  (Jim Conway)

 

“The Lord Jesus illumines the mysteries of the kingdom of Heaven with two parables, the Mustard Seed and the Leaven. His focus is on our spiritual maturation in relation to Himself…The two parables emphasize the Lord’s role as the primary actor in our spiritual growth… He prepares us for union with Himself so that we may grow and, in turn, leaven the many around us.” (Dynamis 7/16/2014)

 

"The sign that we are maturing gracefully is contentment with who we are and what we have accomplished." (Rev. Christopher H. Martin)

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