Read Job 11:13-15
"If you prepare your heart, you will stretch out your hands toward him. If iniquity is in your hand, put it far away, and let not injustice dwell in your tents. Surely then you will lift up your face without blemish; you will be secure and will not fear."
• Can you work your way to an easy life?
• The desire of health, comfort, and prosperity can fuel a perfectionistic attitude. Why do you think this is so?
• Looking for perfection in ourselves is a fruitless endeavor. A better strategy for overcoming hurt is to seek out our perfect God. Do you agree? (Please explain.)
Zophar decided that it was his turn to speak and answer Job's lament. He returned to the idea that Job was suffering because of his sin. In fact, he went even further, stating that because of Job's guilt, Job actually deserved worse. It's hard to imagine what worse would be!
He then went on to comfort Job with the thought that no one can comprehend the ways of God. Still, Zophar contended, if Job would just become perfect, then an easy, secure life would be his.
When stated this way, Zophar's promise of health, wealth, and wisdom for those who are perfect is almost laughable. On a deeper level, it is downright depressing. The core problem rests in the fact that fallen, sinful people can't achieve perfection. This is why we need Jesus as our Savior.
Even if we acknowledge this on a cognitive level, we may still finding ourselves striving for perfection. We behave as if following the perfect nutrition and exercise plan, having a yearly physical, and getting enough sleep will mean we never get sick. Working hard, avoiding debt, and saving for a rainy day will ensure that we'll never lose our jobs and that our checkbooks will always be in the black. Sending our children to the right school, giving them the exactly correct balance of love and discipline, and taking them to the best extracurricular activities means they will grow up to make all the right choices in life.
By themselves, none of these things are really bad. They only become problematic when we start relying on them for our security. Psychologists have found that a desire for perfection can lead to depression, suicidal thoughts, and other mental health problems.
Perfectionism and the desire for a perfect life can also take our focus off of God and our relationship with Him. We may become more focused on what we do and who we are than who He is and the purpose for which He has created us. Also, when life eventually disappoints, the "perfect" world we have created collapses like a house of cards. Seeking perfection within ourselves doesn't provide a way out of pain. Instead, we are comforted when we seek out our perfect God.
Lord, sometimes I go off track and start thinking that I live a perfect life on my own. Forgive me for looking to myself instead of to You. Amen.