The Danger of Comparing (part 3)

Every man has his proper gift from God. (1 Corinthians 7:7)

What is a “proper gift” from God.  The word for proper comes from the word idios, which means private or separate.  We see this word as the root for the word idiosyncrasy, which means a mode of behavior peculiar to an individual.  

When I think of the word indiosyncrasy, it reminds me of a car that was given to me.  The previous owner said that before he would pass on the car, he wanted to show me the idiosyncrasies of it.  Because it had a Diesel engine, it had its own particular quirks.  Additionally, there was a problem with the side window whistling and he showed me how to stop that.  There were quite a few distinct issues with the car that needed to be deal with in particular ways.

Just as my car was particular, so are we.  God, who knows our beginning from the end, provides for us exactly what we need and when he does, he gives us our “idios” gift or a gift that is distinctly for us.  What is vitally important for us to know is that the private or separate gift that he gives us was done so according to the grace that he has given us.

Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, … (Romans 12:6)

When we measure ourselves to others and seem to fall short, we try to demonstrate grace in our lives that God has not given to us.  Consider the following illustration.

Imagine a woman who does not have any artistic ability.  Her home is tidy and neat, but sparse with decorations.  She doesn’t knit, sew, or create crafts.  However, she begins to compare herself with the “Martha Steward” in the church.  When she does so, how do you think she will fair?  My guess is that she will compare rather poorly.

So, she beats herself up, goes to the altar and tells God that she is going to be a better wife and mother.  She buys items from the craft store and sets out to achieve her goal.  However, the items sit in the closet for about a month or so.  They seem to be calling to her and she runs in fear from their voice.  Eventually, she is back at the altar again making more promises.

She finally starts working on the project, but it is just one problem after another.  She eventually sits in tears–a failure and a lousy Christian mother.  Does this sound familiar? But let me ask you, “Is she a lousy Christian mother?  Let’s take a closer look.

Each night she sits at the kitchen table encouraging her child who has learning difficulties. Through all of the frustration and tears, she remains patient and supportive.  Her children–as all children–have their moments, but instead of lashing out and taking her frustrations out on the, when they disobey, she remains gentle and calm–even in times of discipline.

While at church, she doesn’t look down her nose at others.  In meekness, she encourages those that she sees struggling.  She does this because she recognizes that she too has struggles.

However, this woman does not see herself as a spiritual success because she fails to recognize all that the Lord is doing in her life and the work of grace that is evident.  Why does she continue to see herself that way?  She sees herself as a failure because she compares herself to others.

He Still Wants to Use Me? (John 21:17)

Peter cannot bring himself to say that he loves (agapao) Jesus.  The best type of love that he believes he has is phileo or brotherly love.  Jesus continues to prompt him to feed his sheep and lambs.  Peter cannot get past his failure of denying Christ.  How can he feed God’s lambs and sheep with such limited love?

Jesus knows his inner turmoil and condition of love.  He then–with that understanding confirmed–gives the charge again to Peter.  God’s calling upon Peter’s life was prior to his failure and in recognition of it.  He wanted Peter to know that regardless of what had happened, he still wanted him to be an Apostle.

Like Peter, we sometimes limit ourselves from what God has planned for us.  We get so focused on our failures and cannot see God’s plan or believe his calling is upon our lives.  

Instead of trying to figure it out, we should just listen to the voice of God’s leading.  He will lead us to exactly where he wants us to be.

Your Past Does Not Determine Your Future (Matthew 1:5)

Your past does not determine your future. Your past may strongly influence you as you decide your future, but it cannot determine it. As you read the genealogies of Jesus in Matthew chapter one, you will come across Boaz. This is the same Boaz that redeemed and married Ruth. His family background was as bad as it could be. Boaz’s mother was the harlot that hid the Israelite spies in Jericho. Can you imagine what life was like for Boaz as a young boy: the names that he was called and the shame he endured as he faced peers and the self righteous society?

In spite of it all, Boaz became somebody great and so did his mother. Both are listed in the genealogies and are responsible for passing on their heritage to the Messiah. Their lives are prime examples of what God and his grace can do.

We must remember that our past does not determine our future either. Our families’ good testimony cannot make us successful and it’s failures cannot hold us back from success. Even the failures in our past cannot hinder us from experiencing success. Maybe you have made some very poor decisions and now your life’s testimony is anything but desirable. Remember, God’s grace was given to buy you out of sin and to empower you for victory over it. Your past cannot be changed, but God’s grace can change your future.

As you face the shame of your past, remember the following.

1. Your past is in the past.

And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:11)

2. What you were does not determine what you are or what you will be.

In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. (Ephesians 1:11-12)

3. God’s power changes lives and reputations

Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, (Ephesians 3:20)

Insecurity (1 Samuel 18:7-13)

Because of disobedience, the prophet Samuel informed Saul that The Lord had rejected him as King and was appointing another to replace him. In addition, Saul experienced trouble from an evil spirit (1 Samuel 16:14). During this struggle, Saul encountered the battle with the Philistines, Goliath and David’s victory. These events brought insecurity into the heart of Saul, which resulted in destructive behaviors.

When David was lauded for his victory, the announcement caused Saul’s heart to be filled with anger and grief. Samuel informed Saul that the kingdom would be torn from his hand and because it appeared that David may be the man, Saul became fearful and jealous. Instead of Saul managing the event, the event instead began to manage or control him. From that moment forward, Saul eyed or suspected David of evil and as Saul continued to crumble, his emotions became actions. He began to attack what he believed to be the source of his trouble and eventually out of fear rejected or removed David from his life.

These attitudes and actions of Saul are some of the very things we do when we are insecure. Because of insecurity, we experience anger, fear, and jealousy. We then become suspicious and attacking towards those around us. In the end, we attempt to push away from us those that are causing us to experience insecurity.

People are not the source of our insecurity, we are. We become insecure when we think that success is our responsibility. Remember, we are never commanded to be successful, but we are commanded to be faithful.