Christian Living · encouragement · Faithfulness

When We are Tempted to Compare

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Before Jesus ascended to heaven, he spent quality time with his disciples, strengthening their faith and preparing them for the future. Jesus tells Peter about coming persecution and death:

“Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”

John 21.18-19, ESV

Peter, being the impulsive man that he was, looks at John and asks, “what about this guy? what’s going to happen to him?”

Whenever I read about Peter, I chuckle to myself and think, “Thank you, Lord, for telling us about Peter!” I understand Peter and his pitfalls because, in many ways, I am just like him.

Social media provides ample opportunities for us to fall into the clutches of the comparison trap. Comparison is not necessarily a bad thing. It has the potential to spur us toward better behavior, healthier choices, and/or much needed discipline. On the other hand, it may very well lead us to ingratitude, envy, jealousy, and depression.

Even before social media arrived on the scene, we had a tendency to look at our neighbors and attempt to “keep up with the Joneses.” Even before the Joneses arrived, people craved more than what they already had. The tempter in the garden said, “if you eat the fruit… you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” David saw Bathsheba and suddenly his wives weren’t enough. Simon the Sorcerer received salvation—the greatest gift in the universe—but when he saw the miracles of the apostles, he also wanted the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit.

When walking through the dark valleys of life, we may look at those around us and wonder why they have it so easy. We want (or think we want) what they have:

“Why am walking through this valley while they enjoy a life of luxury?”

“Why do they get to go on vacations, and live in a fancy house, and have perfect kids, and enjoy perfect health?”

“Why did you give me the child with a disorder when he/she gets the healthy, easy-going kid?

“Why, Lord, do I have to carry this cross when their cross looks so much smaller, smoother, and shinier?”

We might not ask, but we might wonder.

We wonder when the burdens get heavy.

We wonder when trials drag on for years.

We wonder when our prayers seem to bounce off the ceiling.

Listen to our Lord’s words to Peter“What is that to you? You follow me!”

When we slip into the comparison trap, remember Jesus’ advice to Peter: “What is that to you? You follow me.”

The Lord brought you where you are for a purpose. How can you follow Jesus today? Open your eyes to the opportunities at hand.

Who needs your skills? Your compassion? Your correction?

Look around at the people in your sphere of influence. Who needs to hear the gospel from your lips or see Jesus in your actions? Does your family see Jesus in your life? Are you leading your spouse or your children to the Lord by the way you live? Are you serving like Jesus?

Our time is short. The work Jesus calls us to perform should require so much of our time that we do not need to ask, “What about this guy?” When you are tempted to ask (or even wonder), remember Jesus’ words: “What is that to you? You follow me!”

These lyrics from Ira Stamphill’s hymn, “Follow me” express how our attitude should be in following Jesus:

O, Jesus if I die upon
A foreign field someday,
‘T’would be no more than love demands,
No less could I repay,
“No greater love hath mortal man
Than for a friend to die”
These are the words He gently spoke to me,
“If just a cup of water
I place within your hand
Then just a cup of water
Is all that I demand.”
But if by death to living
They can Thy glory see,
I’ll take my cross and follow close to Thee.

Take what Jesus gives you—even if it is just a cup of water—and use it for His glory. If you are called to be a stay-at-home mom, then show your children how to follow Jesus. If you are called to run a corporation, run it with honesty, fairness, and justice, following Jesus. If you are called to swing a hammer, do so without complaining or cussing; be true and accurate in your work, and follow Jesus.

Instead of looking down in despair, follow Jesus.

Instead of looking around with envy, follow Jesus.

Instead of looking at the storms of life, follow Jesus.

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.

Colossians 3.23-24, ESV

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