Growing In Christ: Overcoming Materialism, Perfectionism, Self-Righteousness, And The Illusion Of Control

We all want to become more like Christ, but it isn’t always easy. Growing in Christ requires us to overcome materialism, perfectionism, self-righteousness and the illusion of control – something that can be difficult for even the most devoted Christians. In this article we look at Matthew 5:48 as our guide – “Be perfect therefore, even as your Father who is in heaven is perfect” – and examine how we can use that verse to help us grow closer to Him.

In his book The Holiness of God, theologian RC Sproul writes “The holiness of God means that He is separate from sin…As Christians, we are called upon not merely to avoid evil but also to strive after righteousness.” That’s exactly what Jesus challenges us with in Matthew 5:48. It may seem impossible at times; however by breaking down these toxic behaviors, we can begin growing in Christ and achieving a closer relationship with Him.

Through different examples and stories, this article will explore each behavior individually so you can gain a greater understanding of their influence on our spiritual life. Let’s start by looking at why overcoming materialism is essential for anyone striving for true holiness according to Matthew 5:48.

The Temptation Of Materialism: Why Pursuing Wealth Can’t Fulfill Us

Materialism is a temptation that Christians face every day. We are often tempted to pursue wealth and possessions instead of spiritual growth and Christian living. As Luke 12:15 says, “Take heed, and beware of covetousness; for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.” In other words, our lives do not consist in what we own or how much money we have. It can be easy to fall into the trap of believing that acquiring more material possessions will bring us happiness and fulfillment, but this could not be further from the truth!

Self-righteousness is another common pitfall when it comes to pursuing materialism. Many times, people seeking wealth think they deserve success because they believe they are better than others who don’t succeed as well. This kind of thinking leads to pridefulness and arrogance—things God hates (Proverbs 8:13). Instead, we need to keep our eyes on God’s plan for us and remember that He alone gives us favor and blessings (Psalm 84:11).

The illusion of control also plays an important role here. When we become fixated on achieving certain goals related to material possessions, such as getting rich quick schemes or trying to amass great wealth overnight, it reinforces feelings of entitlement. None of these strategies work because only God has ultimate authority over our lives (Daniel 4:35). The most important thing we can do is submit ourselves completely to Him – trusting in His plans for our future rather than relying on any earthly riches.

The Myth Of Perfection: Understanding Our Imperfections And Embracing Grace

We all want perfection, but it’s an unattainable goal. We may try to strive for the perfect job or lifestyle, but no matter how hard we try, there will always be some aspect of our lives which falls short of our expectations. That is why Matthew 5:48 reminds us that “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” God knows our limitations and understands that none of us can ever reach perfection on this earth – only He can do so. As imperfect beings, we must accept His grace and mercy instead.

That being said, though striving for excellence isn’t a bad thing, it becomes dangerous when taken too far. If we focus solely on achieving a certain level of success or wealth without taking into account God’s plan for our lives, then pride and arrogance can easily set in. This kind of thinking leads to self-righteousness—believing one person is more deserving than another because they have achieved greater material success (Proverbs 14:12).

No amount of earthly possessions or achievements can compare to the joys found through submitting ourselves fully to God’s will. Instead of looking at what others have accomplished with envy or trying to attain worldly goals on our own strength, let’s remember that relying on Christ alone brings true contentment and peace—the things that really matter in life!

The Problem With Self-Righteousness: How Our Pride Can Lead Us Astray

Self-righteousness is a dangerous trap. It can lead us away from God’s will and cause us to become proud, judgmental, and arrogant in our attitude toward others. Pride makes us think we are better than everyone else and blinds us to our own flaws. Proverbs 14:12 warns against this kind of thinking—“There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” When we rely on ourselves instead of turning to God for guidance and grace, bad decisions often follow.

It’s easy to get caught up in trying to do things our own way, living life by our own standards and expectations rather than according to what God has commanded. We may strive for perfection or material success without ever considering how it fits into the Lord’s plan for us. By attempting to control everything around us and dictate every outcome, we can easily forget about trusting Him with all aspects of our lives (Proverbs 3:5).

TIP: Remind yourself regularly that no amount of worldly accomplishments or possessions can compare with submitting fully to the will of God! He knows best when it comes to both big and small matters – trust in His good plans for you even if they don’t match your desires (Jeremiah 29:11)!

Our prideful hearts need taming if we’re going to live out Matthew 5:48 as Christ intended—it’s time to humble ourselves before the Lord so that He can work through us!

The Illusion Of Control: How Our Desire For Power Can Blind Us To God’s Plan

As humans, we naturally crave control. We want to be in charge of our lives and make sure that everything turns out the way we expect it to. Unfortunately, this desire for power can lead us astray if we’re not careful—we must remember that God is ultimately sovereign over all things (Proverbs 16:9). When we try to take matters into our own hands and attempt to exercise full autonomy, we risk missing out on His perfect plan for each of us.

The illusion of control often tricks us into believing that worldly possessions or accomplishments are what bring true happiness and fulfillment when they don’t necessarily guarantee either one. Here’s how we can break free from these false beliefs:

  • Recognize that no matter how much energy you put into trying to gain control, there will always remain an element of unpredictability in life – so don’t waste your time worrying about tomorrow!
  • Submit fully to God’s direction and trust Him with even the smallest details – He knows best (Romans 12:2).
  • Give up striving for perfectionism in yourself or others – instead focus on achieving excellence through grace-filled effort (Philippians 4:8).

These steps may seem counterintuitive but they’ll help you understand that true joy comes from living a life devoted to Christ rather than chasing after earthly riches or power. Letting go of our prideful desires allows us to embrace humility before the Lord as He guides us along His path– only then can we experience a deep contentment and peace found nowhere else!

Frequently Asked Questions

How Can I Know When I Am Succumbing To Materialism?

The cost of consumer goods in the United States has risen by an average of 2.2% over the past year, and many Americans are struggling to make ends meet while trying to keep up with the latest trends. It’s easy to see why materialism is such a powerful force in our culture – it can be hard to resist the temptation of acquiring more possessions when you feel like everyone else around you has them too. But how do we know when we’re succumbing to materialism?

Firstly, ask yourself if your spending habits have changed recently. If so, then it could be a sign that materialism has taken hold. Are you now buying things just for show or because they seem fashionable without considering their practicality? Do you find yourself making purchases out of impulse rather than necessity? These are all signs that materialistic values may be influencing your decisions.

Secondly, consider whether you focus more on what something looks like rather than its quality or usefulness. For example, if you prioritize designer labels and brand-names even though there are cheaper options available, this could indicate that materialism has become a priority in your life. Additionally, take note if keeping up with the Joneses is becoming increasingly important; constantly comparing yourself against others financially can lead to unhealthy levels of debt as well as feelings of inadequacy and inferiority.

Finally, reflect on your motivations for purchasing items – do you buy things out of genuine need or simply to fill an emotional void? Material objects cannot bring lasting happiness or inner peace but often they can help us temporarily avoid difficult emotions such as loneliness or insecurity. If shopping provides temporary relief from these feelings then it’s likely that materialism is playing a role in your decision making process. Recognizing signs early on will help us stay mindful about our actions and guard ourselves against being overly influenced by society’s standards of success and worthiness.

What Practical Steps Can I Take To Overcome Perfectionism?

Perfectionism can be a major hindrance to spiritual growth. It is the tendency to demand flawless performance from oneself, as well as an unrealistic expectation of what one should achieve in life. Perfectionism often leads to feelings of guilt and shame when we fail to reach our standards, or feel like we are not doing enough.

Fortunately, there are practical steps we can take to overcome this unhealthy mindset. The first step is recognizing that perfection is unattainable; no matter how hard we try or how much effort we put into something, mistakes will inevitably happen along the way. This doesn’t mean that striving for excellence isn’t important; rather, it means accepting that perfection does not exist and allowing ourselves grace and mercy when things don’t go according to plan.

The second step is learning to focus on progress rather than perfection. We tend to get caught up in the idea that everything needs to be perfect right away, but sometimes it takes time and practice before you get results. Celebrating small victories along the journey can help motivate us and keep us going even during times of difficulty or failure. In addition, it’s also helpful to remind yourself that making mistakes doesn’t make you less worthy; instead, they can serve as valuable lessons which lead us closer towards achieving our goals.

Finally, being mindful of our thoughts and words is essential if we want to break free from the cycle of perfectionism. Instead of beating ourselves up over minor slip-ups or failures, choose positive affirmations such as “I am improving every day” or “I accept myself exactly as I am.” With consistent effort and self-compassion through these practices, we can learn how to let go of perfectionism and grow spiritually without letting it hold us back any longer!

How Do I Recognize When I Am Being Self-Righteous?

Self-righteousness is a difficult thing to detect within ourselves, much like the proverbial frog in hot water. We often don’t realize until it’s too late that we have become prideful and judgmental of others around us. The Bible warns against self-righteousness, as seen in Matthew 5:48 which states “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” When trying to recognize our own self-righteous behavior there are certain things to look out for.

The first sign of potential self-righteousness is when we begin comparing ourselves with others who may not be at the same level of spiritual maturity as us. This can lead us into feeling superior or better than those around us because they lack what we perceive as righteousness. While this comparison may feel validating on an egoic level, it hinders real growth spiritually and relationally. If you find yourself making these comparisons, it could be indicative of a greater problem—self-righteousness.

Another indication of being overly righteous is if you feel compelled to constantly tell people how wrong their decisions are, even though their choices do not directly affect you personally. People should always strive for moral integrity but also learn how to differentiate between offering loving advice and coming off as condescending and condemning. If you struggle with discerning between helpful guidance and meddling criticism then chances are good that you may need to work on overcoming your own sense of superiority over others.

It takes humility and courage to identify moments where one might act arrogantly towards another person due to feelings of personal superiority; however, taking time to reflect on such behaviors can help prevent them from occurring in the future while allowing space for true spiritual growth and connection with other believers in Christ.

What Does It Look Like To Trust God Instead Of Attempting To Gain Control?

When it comes to matters of faith, trusting God is essential. Instead of attempting to gain control over our lives and circumstances, we must acknowledge that He is in charge. We can learn much about this process from Matthew 5:48 which encourages us to “be perfect as your heavenly father is perfect”. It’s an admonition to strive for a level of holiness that only comes through the power of God’s grace.

The key is recognizing when our own desire for control takes precedence over relying on His guidance. This often manifests itself in self-righteousness—thinking that we know better than anyone else how things should be done. In reality, there are many situations out of our hands and beyond our understanding. When we try to take on too much responsibility or make decisions based on pride rather than humility, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by feelings of inadequacy or disappointment with ourselves.

Rather than beating ourselves up every time something doesn’t go according to plan, we need to trust in Him and accept His will regardless of the outcome. As Christians, we have been entrusted with a great gift: The freedom to invest confidently in what He has promised us without having all the answers beforehand (Romans 10:17). No matter how scary life gets at times, knowing that He holds ultimate authority gives us peace and security even in the midst of chaos.

What Are Some Common Pitfalls When It Comes To Materialism, Perfectionism, Self-Righteousness, And Control?

When it comes to materialism, perfectionism, self-righteousness, and control, there are several pitfalls that can easily befall us. Materialism is the pursuit of possessions and wealth above all else. It’s a mindset in which we place too much emphasis on the things of this world at the expense of our relationship with God. Perfectionism is when we feel like nothing is ever good enough for ourselves or others. We strive for an unattainable level of excellence rather than simply doing our best as unto the Lord. Self-righteousness leads us to judge others by our own standards and think more highly of ourselves than we should. And finally, attempting to gain control over every aspect of life can lead us away from trusting in God’s perfect plan.

We must recognize these common pitfalls if we hope to grow closer to Christ instead of further away from Him. Instead of placing our trust in material possessions or striving for perfection, we need to remember that only through Jesus do we have access to true peace and contentment (Philippians 4:11–13). When it comes to judging those around us or trying desperately to maintain control over everything in our lives, we must accept that “we cannot direct the wind but [we] can adjust the sails” (Proverbs 11:14).

God has given us free will and He knows what’s best for each one of us; therefore, it would be wise for us not to become slaves to temptations such as materialistic desires, prideful attitudes towards perfectionism, self-righteous judgemental views, or attempts at gaining complete control over every situation. As Christians, recognizing these pitfalls and choosing instead to rely upon the Lord is essential if we want to experience true growth in faith and holiness accordingto His Word (Romans 12:2).


The challenge of living a life of faith in the midst of materialism, perfectionism, self-righteousness, and the illusion of control can be daunting. But we must remember that through Jesus Christ, all things are possible (Matthew 19:26). When we seek to grow in our relationship with Him, He will fill us with His strength and peace to overcome these temptations.

To understand how this works practically requires an ongoing commitment from each one of us. We need to recognize when our thinking is skewed by these worldly values and replace them with God’s truth. As we make this journey together, let us keep looking up for guidance and learning how to trust more deeply in Him who loves us so fully.

Let us strive toward our goal – not just mere success on earth but true growth in Christlikeness here and now – as we set out on this incredible adventure! May the Lord grant us grace along the way as we learn what it means to live “in obedience to him” (Romans 6:17) amidst a world filled with distractions. Amen!

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