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.