The Danger of Comparing (part 4)

Philippians 2:13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. Translated that would be it is God which energizes you to determine and do what he pleases to be.

God desires something to be done.  Because he is no longer physically present, he chooses to work his will through us. Remember how Jesus said that he is the light of the world?  We find that in John 8:12. He still is the light, but now he chooses to shine through our lives. (Matthew 5:14)

We are his vessels to be used for his honor and glory. As each of us have a different purpose for our lives, we also each have the Lord working differently in and through us. If we allow him, God will perform his will and work in our lives. He’s able to accomplish this by his Holy Spirit and through the equipping that he brings. Some of the equipping is gifts of the Holy Spirit. Other equipping comes through trials of life. James tells us that the trying of her faith will make us perfect or complete so that we will be wanting for nothing.

Each of our lives is different because the circumstances in them are different. Remember God intends for all things to work together for good. God uses each circumstance in our lives as it is coupled together with all of the others to perform that which is good.  The good that he is creating equips and enables us.

How many of you have buried a close family member? Because of it, you have an equipping to reach out to others who are experiencing the same and in fact, you may have a passion to reach out to them.

But at the same time, there may be other people who were only slightly moved by another’s great loss. Are they backslidden and cold? Of course not. The difference between the two is there equipping.

Many years ago, I had an earnest passion to serve in the bus ministry and to reach children for Christ. I was so earnest that I judge those who were not burdened for the bus ministry as being backslidden Christians. Sometime much later, I learned the error of my way. I also came to realize that the reason I was so burdened and faithful to the bus ministry was because of my equipping.

I cannot set a standard to which all believers should be measured and neither should anyone else. When they do as I did, they count themselves as one of the number and measure all people to themselves.

We must recognize that we are distinct individuals whose purpose for living will be determined by God. He will equip us for that purpose and empower us to accomplish his will.

Your life may look and be completely different than mine and that is okay.  You are distinctly different.  What you must not do is allow someone to set a standard of their imagination and expect you and everyone else to measure up to it.  You may hear and see people do this and if you fall for this trap, you are unwise.

God made you in your distinct way.  Seek his face.  Ask him if you are reaching the potential that he has set for you.  Thank him for the work that he is doing and has accomplished in your life and as you walk with God, yield to him and the work of grace that he wants to perform distinctly in you.


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.