Philippians 3:12 “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.”
Confidence is a state of mind that often projects an air of superiority. There are many people who appear confident but inwardly are controlled by fear. When someone is truly confident it is often because they know what they are capable of or have a good support system around them. Most people who are confident know what they can and cannot do and stick to the plan.
When I think of an elephant, I think of a mammal that carries with it a quiet confidence. It wanders through forests and savannas searching for food and water without much urgency. If a lion happens to come upon an elephant, the real only concern is for its young, its own personal safety just doesn’t seem to be a concern.
What is it that allows an elephant to carry with it such confidence?
Now, you may ask, what does any of this have to do with perfection?
The elephant isn’t the most graceful of all creatures, it doesn’t have the most beautiful skin, it has no lovely fur, or incredible foliage; it is large, grey, and frumpy. The elephant doesn’t need any of the aforementioned qualities to get by, it is confident in who it is. God made that elephant just as God made you!
When you walk knowing that you are His creation, it changes your perspective.
Philippians 3:3 “For it is we who are the circumcision, we who worship by the Spirit of God, who glory in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh–“
The outlook we maintain in life can determine our level of confidence. If we think of ourselves as broken, imperfect, unuseable, or even unforgiven, we might limit our ability to see ourselves how God sees us.
The ability to perceive ourselves in light of God’s Word is critical in a world that tries to define us by its standard.
What outlook should we have? Anyone that is honest with themself will admit their faults and failures. We are the product of a broken world but if we measure ourselves by the world’s standard we will be in error as to our worth.
Romans 9:20 “But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, “Why have you made me like this?”
If we sell ourselves short in regards to what God can do through us, we will consistently lack the faith to step out and be obedient. The Lord is building you up into a holy tabernacle, a place in which the Lord regards as sacred. Those who have accepted the call of the Father have been filled with His Spirit…..He is now your Strength!
If you are still living with the guilt of your past or have listened to and accepted the condemnation of this world, you might still live in defeat.
*For those who are in Christ it is easy to fall into the false assumption that God requires His people to perform perfectly. For those who place this ideal as paramount in their lives, frustration and defeat are continual reminders of a sinful nature that persists.
Isaiah 26:3 “You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You.”
What forms of perfection are good to dwell upon?
- The peaceful fruit of righteousness. (Hebrews 12:11)
- The perfection of God’s love. (1 John 4:18)
- The perfect law of liberty. (James 1:25)
- The sanctifying work of the Spirit of God in your life. (Matt. 5:48)
- The perfection of God’s beauty in you. (Hebrews 6:1)
When we walk in obedience, we walk in the perfect path that God has laid before us. When we allow the guidance of the Lord to transform us from pride to a reliance upon Him, we see the process of sanctification that leads others to see Christ in us.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.”
The Word of God contains all you need to know regarding who you are in Christ. Poor self-image can be a restraining device the enemy uses to limit your ability to be free. Whether it is your physical appearance, ability to communicate or spiritual status, you must have a balanced perspective to move forward in strength.
Not everyone wrestles with image issues, for some, the idea is a concern that has never been a point of difficulty. You may have always been affirmed as a child for your looks, you may have been the smartest in class, or had the most success in sports. The troubles arise when all those attributes just aren’t enough. The moment you realize the variables of success aren’t dependent on any physical trait or ability, the enemy is there to remind you of your failure.
As self-doubt creeps in, so does a reluctance toward obedience. The Lord may show you an area He is asking you to submit to but the fear of what lies ahead is just too much to overcome.
Isaiah 32:17-19 “The work of righteousness will be peace,
And the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever.
My people will dwell in a peaceful habitation,
In secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places,
Though hail comes down on the forest,
And the city is brought low in humiliation.”
The Lord encourages His people to be perfect, but perfection only comes through the sanctifying work of the Spirit. When Jesus encouraged His followers to “be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect”, in Matt. 5:48, the encouragement was toward submission, not toward overachieving.
If we think we can be perfect in the flesh, Paul describes this attitude as being hostile toward God.
Romans 8:7 “For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.”
The process of submitting to God’s laws may invoke the thought of legalism, but Paul reprimanded those who tried to justify themselves by the law. Submitting to God’s laws is to walk in the character of God through the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
The Lord leads in perfection—that is the only way He ever works. When we follow His lead, we follow His perfection. This was the encouragement Jesus was giving His disciples. It wasn’t an impossible task, it was a goal to hold a position of humility and obedience.
Where does your confidence lie?
I hope you gain confidence by who you are in Christ, not by what you’ve done by your own strength. It is never you who are doing the work when walking in obedience, it is always the power of God in you completing the process that He began in you. The world will always be critical of that which it doesn’t understand. We can never allow the perspective of the world dictate who we are.
Regardless of what you have done in the past or who you were known as, your identity is no longer that old person, you identity is Christ in You. When people rejoice, they rejoice in God’s work, you are simply a conduit for His grace.
You have the ability to do anything by God’s power— He is waiting for you to trust Him.