If perfection could have been attained through the Levitical priesthood—and indeed the law given to the people established that priesthood—why was there still need for another priest to come, one in the order of Melchizedek, not in the order of Aaron? For when the priesthood is changed, the law must be changed also. He of whom these things are said belonged to a different tribe, and no one from that tribe has ever served at the altar.
- Hebrews 7:11-13
Absalom and all the men of Israel said, “The advice of Hushai the Arkite is better than that of Ahithophel.” For the Lord had determined to frustrate the good advice of Ahithophel in order to bring disaster on Absalom.
- 2 Samuel 17:14
“Not understanding at that time how God’s transforming grace works in a person’s life, I did what just about any person with my emotional baggage would do: I drove myself to be the most perfect pastor who had ever lived. I studied long and hard, and I prayed long and hard. I did everything in my power to do the very best I could. …
“As a perfectionist, you never know when you are measuring up to God’s expectations, and therefore, you never know when you are good enough to get God’s approval. …
“Three other aspects of the perfectionist attitude of striving are worth noting. I had them all. Control… Combativeness… Criticism…
“Irritation and frustration are inner events. They are rooted in a person’s emotional health.
“People often blame external circumstance and situations for the irritation they feel, but the external things of life don’t cause irritation – they simply trigger what is already inside a person.
“… The Holy Spirit had been the giver of power to me, but now he was resident in me to work through me.”
- Charles Stanley, The Source of my Strength
Notice that when Rev. Stanley first started, he was doing everything within his own power, but then after he finally understood what grace was, he relied on God’s power within him.
Whether it is a sense of perfection or a sense of self-worth or a combination of a lot of the emotional baggage that has been discussed up to this point, when our plans, even our plans to serve the Lord, end in a fruitless effort, or at least as we see it, we get frustrated. Have you ever been a part of a street evangelism effort, and everyone got converts except for your team? It is frustrating, until you realize that God is in control, and, Praise the Lord, I am not in control, not on that account.
Satan loves to use those kinds of things to take away your Joy. If enough Joy is taken away due to frustration, we might not even try the next time.
As Rev. Stanley says about himself as a perfectionist, you never know when you have done enough to be worthy of God’s approval. Oops. We are getting the cart before the horse here.
I cannot count the times when I get irritated and frustrated, mostly while talking about Jesus, because the other person is totally rejecting what I have to say as being pure nonsense. My logic is sound. They can reject God, but to reject a sound argument without every testing that argument against rational thought… That’s just crazy!!! But then, I hear that Voice in my head that says to back away politely, for the Holy Spirit is not at work here. You see, I was not in charge. God was.
Maybe I had to say something that they would reject, but since the soundbite was within their memory banks, they might mull over it for weeks and realize that their thought on the subject may not be right. Why would they have that change of heart? Because after I walked away, thinking that I had made no difference in that person’s life, the Holy Spirit started working on their soul.
Of course, I have not even begun to discuss the frustrations at work that led to countless times of being passed over for promotion, even though I was doing the work of the boss. When that is the prelude for God’s plan in your life and not the work that God will one day have for you to do, that always ends in frustration. I put food on the table and the boys were dressed in the latest fashion, but we never had that extra. Our grandest vacation was largely a tax write-off. My wife and I took a three-week trip from South Carolina to New Mexico, to the Philmont Scout Ranch for leadership training (one of those three weeks). It was a legitimate tax deduction. We might not have made the trip without the tax deduction. Money was always tight, and that was frustrating.
Money is even tighter now, but since I am doing what God has called me to do, I am not frustrated at all.
It is what Rev. Stanley learned. God saves us by Grace, but the Grace extends to what we do, in that God works His wonders with His power through us who rely on that Grace. We did not deserve to be saved. We did not deserve to be a vessel in which to spread the Gospel. God grants us His Grace when we learn to listen to that Voice in our minds and follow God completely.
This chapter in Rev. Stanley’s book seemed the most convoluted. He writes for pages about his perfectionism. When you read it, you think perfectionism is impossible, but… It was not the perfectionism and the resulting frustration that mattered as much as it was not relying upon the Holy Spirit and trying to do it on your own that leads to the frustration that can be debilitating.
Rely on the Holy Spirit and do not look back. And as long as we look toward Jesus, we can leave our frustration behind us.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.