Chapel of Praise

Battling Perfectionism

1 Samuel 14:24-26 And the men of Israel were distressed that day, for Saul had placed the people under oath, saying, “Cursed is the man who eats any food until evening, before I have taken vengeance on my enemies.” So none of the people tasted food. 25 Now all the people of the land came to a forest; and there was honey on the ground. 26 And when the people had come into the woods, there was the honey, dripping; but no one put his hand to his mouth, for the people feared the oath.

Perfectionistic tendencies can be both good and bad. On one hand they can provide the drive and motivation we need to do things consistently well and also help us prioritize what’s most important in our lives. On the other hand perfectionism can be a source of frustration, guilt, and stress that steals our peace and joy. Author Brené Brown communicates this truth well in the following quote; “Understanding the difference between healthy striving and perfectionism is critical to laying down the shield and picking up your life. Research shows that perfectionism hampers success. In fact, it’s often the path to depression, anxiety, addiction, and life paralysis.” In 1 Samuel 14 Saul displays an all-or-nothing, perfectionistic attitude. He couldn’t eat or be happy unless there was complete, total victory, and he forced this attitude on his entire army. God’s word says this distressed Israel. This helps us understand perfectionism not only affects us, but it also affects our families, friends and associations. 

In the middle of this battle God provided, “honey on the ground,” but no one would eat because of Saul’s mandate. But as we read further, Jonathon, Saul’s son, who didn’t know about his father’s vow, ate some of the honey. The Bible says, “his countenance brightened.” He recognized the hurtful nature of his father’s attitude when he says in verses 29-30: “My father has troubled the land. Look now, how my countenance has brightened because I tasted a little of this honey. 30 How much better if the people had eaten freely today of the spoil of their enemies which they found! For now would there not have been a much greater slaughter among the Philistines?”

As Christians we have to realize that we will never see full perfection in this life. Charles Stanley writes: “God is looking for imperfect men and women who have learned to walk in moment-by-moment dependence on the Holy Spirit. Christians who have come to terms with their inadequacies, fears, and failures.” While we should strive to do and be our best in our relationships, careers, and walk of faith, we have to also endeavor to find the peace, joy and fulfillment Christ promises His’ followers. As His followers we should have a countenance that reflects His goodness. In this world we will have battles, but if we will look through eyes of faith, we will also see honey on the ground. Our great shepherd has promised He will prepare a table before us in the very presence of our enemy!   

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