Spiritual OCD

I was scrolling down my facebook feed, and all of a sudden, I wanted to change the décor in someone’s living space. The offense was in the background of the photo, on the wall. It hit me squarely. This needs to be fixed. I am like the fictitious perfectionist, Hercule Poirot. I can’t just leave a crooked picture, even if I’m in someone else’s house. (Actually, I have left them crooked a couple of times, when there was no way to straighten without getting caught. Oh, the agony!) In this case, the offending décor was two framed pictures, one on top of the other, not centered, and no space at all between them. I want to visit that place and set it right.

Right means my idea of right, which would be centered, probably on a smaller wall, and with enough space between top and bottom frame to make them look comfortable, probably at least one and a half to two inches.

I wonder how many of us have OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) about other people’s spiritual lives. Unfortunately, I think we’re all guilty.

Did you ever:

  • Repeatedly think about someone else’s sin—however great or small—over and over in your mind?
  • Tell your friends how to improve their spiritual lives, who have exactly the same problem you have with yours?
  • Obsess about offensive words said to you?
  • Climb on a hobby horse about one spiritual issue?
  • Judge someone else by your own high, perfect standards?

We have all done these things.

And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye? (Luke 6:41)

My imagination goes wild with that verse. “Hey, Bro., stand still. I see this tiny little black speck in your eye.” Then, I turn around and look in the mirror. “Woah! A whole whoppin’ beam! How did that get there? I’m gonna need surgery!”

Why is it so much easier to see the mote than the beam?

We can see others’ faults way before our own. And, you know what? Probably more than 90% of the time, others’ lives and faults are none of our business. If we’re in church leadership, we may be called upon to counsel and encourage, and in that case, it is our business. But normally, the “motes” we see in others’ eyes aren’t.

What about the beam?

“That huge, heavy, railroad tie thing hanging out of my face?”

Yes, that.

“Um, surgery?”

Maybe that would help, but you’ll need to see a doctor. No way am I moving that thing—even if I could.

The doctor says, “Beam-face, what seems to be the trouble?”

I point to the beam.

“Oh, you’ve been judging others again?”

“Yes, Doctor.”

“There’s only one cure for that.”

“Cut it out?”

“No. It’s inoperable.”

“So, Doctor, what’s the cure?”

“Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother’s eye. You have to take it out yourself. Then, you’ll see just fine.”

I go home, look in the mirror of God’s Word, confess my sin of judging people through my obsessive-compulsive spiritual disorder, and I tug that huge, ugly hunk of wood out of my eye.

Voilà! I can see as clearly as if I were trying on new glasses for the first time.

“Thank you, Lord! And, help me remember this lesson.”

Straighten your own pictures. Space them the way you like. Let others hang theirs the way they want. It’s their house, after all.

We beam-faces have a lot to learn.

Lord, I need help

Step One: admitting you have a need.

Step Two: going to the Lord with it.

Step Three: telling God all about it.

Step Four: giving thanks.

I know you have a need. No, I don’t have mental telepathy, and I might not even know you personally, but I’m sure you are needy. Everyone is.

Going to the Lord with your need is natural when you actually know Him.

There are several kinds of personal necessities, but we’ll put them in two categories:

  1. Knowing the Lord personally—Is Jesus your Savior? Have you been born again? You can’t know God until you have taken this step. Acknowledge your sin, that He is your only hope, and trust His death and resurrection to pay for your sins and give you new life. That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved (Romans 10:9-10, 13).
  2. Going to Him boldly with any concern—Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:16).

Philippians 4:6 is an outline of how to go to God with our concerns. Be careful (full of care, anxious) for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication (asking) with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

What’s your personal need today?

The Lord wants to help you. What’s more, He promises to. But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19). God’s resources are limitless. He has no problem supplying your need, whatever it might be.

Pour your heart out to Him. Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us. Selah (Psalm 62:8).

Give your burden to the Lord. Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved (Psalm 55:22).

Thank Him for taking care of you. Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving (Colossians 4:2). Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen (from Revelation 7:12).

What’s the result of this kind of praying?

Inexplicable peace.

And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7).

Being a perfectionist in the things that count

Are you a detail person?

Do you like everything just so?

Are you a person who tries to look perfect, keep a beautiful house, and be completely organized—perhaps above and beyond?

Do you get frustrated when you don’t hit your personal targets and goals?

You’re not alone!

By the way, who doesn’t like a clean, pretty home, nice hair and make-up, and being organized? Some of us only dream of it, but some—hats off to you—actually live that way.

I truly believe there’s sloppy and neat DNA. Some children are born organizers, and others are . . . “relaxed.” A man once told us about his mother-in-law, who “walked around with a cloth in her hand, wiping surfaces all day long.” He said he was afraid to move in her house. (I know his own mother keeps a spotless home, so you can imagine that this was excessive.) Others are quite comfortable not being able to walk across the floor without doing some kind of obstacle course maneuver. They move a pile of magazines to be able to sit down without batting an eye! Dust? What dust?

Everyone is a pocket perfectionist. There are things every person has to do in a certain way.

  • Think of the scientist who may not match his blazer to his shirt or tie, but this guy will never make a mistake in measurements.
  • How about the chef? The sauce is perfect. He knows just how much salt to sprinkle, how to brown the butter, how to simmer the onions so they caramelize. But, he doesn’t care if the living room has furniture or the fence gets fixed.
  • The author edits, re-edits, and she reads her sentences out loud. She asks friends for input. She wants to produce the next great masterpiece—or at least keep her readers entertained and flipping pages. She might totally overlook piling laundry and forget to iron.
  • A nurse is compassionate and efficient. She conserves movement and liberally expends her emotional energies. She works twelve-hour shifts and honestly doesn’t care if her bed gets made.

But, what about the always perfectionist? She’s the lady who has to have everything perfect all the time.

“Impossible,” you say. And, you’re right.

She’s set herself up for disappointment before she even begins. In seeking perfection, this woman is always looking at herself: her performance, her organization skills, her manicure, her make-up, her housekeeping, her decorating . . . her . . . own . . . life. She does think of others—after all, they’re the ones who see and judge all she accomplishes—but, she’s mostly thinking of her life. She’s selfish.

I used to have a magnet on my refrigerator. It said, “Self-ish or self-less?” Ouch.

Are you a perfectionist?

Do you hold yourself up to an almost impossible ideal?

Do you feel like you’re always lacking?

Moms think they need all kinds of advice, when all they need to do is follow God’s Word, the Bible, and learn from older women (Titus 2:3-5, below).

Women think they need to follow styles and look a certain way, when the Bible says, Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price (1 Peter 3:3-4). The heart matters much more than clothing and accessories.

Some women compare themselves to their impressions of others. Believe me, I’ve found out that some of the women who look very put-together don’t have everything in order. And, some of the scatterbrained and seemingly unorganized ladies do. (There are a few superwomen out there. I have met a few, and I could probably count all these phenomena on one hand.)

What does God want in a woman? What are His standards?

  • She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness (Proverbs 31:26).
  • A meek and quiet spirit (strength, self-control, and trusting God (1 Peter 3:4).
  • She’s gracious. A gracious woman retaineth honour (Proverbs 11:16a).
  • The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil. She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life (Proverbs 31:11-12).
  • She takes care of her household. (Proverbs 31:15, 21, 27)
  • She dresses nicely, but her character is the most important thing. She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple. Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come (Proverbs 31:22, 25).
  • She respects the Lord. Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised (Proverbs 31:30).
  • Older women are to be examples and teach younger women. The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed (Titus 2:3-5).

So, what should we strive for? Good character, a sweet attitude, wise and pleasant speech, responsibility, housekeeping, and learning from and teaching others.

A woman’s reward? Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her. Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised (Proverbs 31:28, 30).

Transparency: How much of your story should you tell?

I know I appreciate a transparent person. Don’t you? A sincere testimony, someone admitting “I’ve been there” and telling his story. Empathy. Understanding.

If you follow social media, you probably have been embarrassed a time or two when someone shared too much very publicly—at least in your opinion.

How much transparency is too much?

I believe it varies from person to person and with situations, but I also believe we can find a balance.

It is good to tell our stories.

It helps others when we share how we’ve overcome.

It’s encouraging when we can truly empathize with people going through the same kind of trial we’ve been through.

But, there can be some issues with transparency:

  1. Pride—building ourselves up as the superhero who overcame. The truth is, we all need the Lord’s help.
  2. Hurting others when we tell our story—We might reference someone who did us wrong and identify the person, trouble in our family, financial information, or something else. Is that person still living? Has this wrong been reported and justice been served? Or, will telling the story hurt someone’s feelings? Are you betraying a confidence? If abuse is part of the story, consider other people in the families and other victims.
  3. Forgetting to edify—Some people tell all the sad parts of their story, set themselves on a pedestal as an overcomer, and forget to help others. Christians should build up and help others. Your transparency should have that goal in mind.
  4. Couching gossip as a “prayer request”—While it is great to share prayer requests, we need to be careful not to air someone else’s dirty laundry in the guise of sharing a prayer request.

Be real. Let people feel your humanity. Tell how you learned a particular lesson, and give the glory to the Lord.

Do you need wisdom? (All the time.) If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him (James 1:5). Pray for wisdom about sharing (yes or no) and for how to share, if God gives you a yes answer.

Think and pray before you speak—even in casual conversation.

Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31).

God bless you as you bless others.

So, where’s Hosea?

Okay, I admit it.

Sometimes I have a hard time finding a book of the Bible. Take Hosea, for example. Old Testament for sure, but is it one of those before Psalms or after the Major Prophets? I have to think about it every single time—and go back over my memorized books list until I find it. Amos is another one that trips me up. And, which book comes before Nehemiah? Where’s Nahum?

Familiarity with the Bible comes with use, but it also helps to memorize the order of the books in the Old and New Testaments. I surely won’t judge you if the preacher announces Obadiah and you look in the Table of Contents.

Have you ever read the Bible—all the way through? Or did you get bogged down in Leviticus and quit—forever?

We’re at the beginning of a new year, and I hope you’ve considered Bible reading as a regular practice. There are all kinds of Bible reading plans. You can use an app. or the Internet or have it on your phone. There are lists you can check off. My personal favorite is The Bible in One Year. See what works best for you.

The important thing is to read God’s Word. Make it a priority.

The Bible is the only living book. That means that it is supernatural—God breathed—and the Holy Spirit applies it to each person’s life. For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart (Hebrews 4:12). No other book can do that. It’s the only Book that knows you.

If you started once in Genesis and got bogged down by Leviticus or so, consider starting in a different place: the Gospel of John. It’s 21 chapters. That means you can easily finish it in less than a month, reading a chapter a day. The gospels are about Jesus and His ministry, and any of them would make a great place to start (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John). Ask God to speak to you. He will.

After John, try Acts. A good friend calls it the “Acts of the Holy Spirit”—which is an accurate representation. It chronicles the time after the resurrection of Jesus and what was happening in the early church. Read the entire New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs. Go for the Old Testament, as well. Genesis 1-11 is all about beginnings. There’s lots of history in Chronicles, Kings, and the Samuels. Enjoy reading about the Old Testament heroes and villains. Learn how God works in the history of mankind. Read prophecy and find out what has already happened and what is yet to come. Finish up with Revelation—almost all of it still to occur. There’s a blessing for everyone who reads it (Revelation 1:3).

As you read through the Bible, you’ll see the amazing connections between then and now and different passages. It’s the most awesome Book in the world, and it will change your life, if you let it.

Find out where Hosea is, Nahum, and all the rest. Become biblically literate, and let the Word of God change you.

Begin today! You still have 29 days in January to finish the 21 chapters in John.

God bless you.