Mind Your Own Business

Have you ever compared yourself to another? I believe it is safe to assume that we all have. Typically, the comparison is made between ourselves and someone we deem to be better than us. There are, of course, those who compare themselves to others they consider to be below them in order to build their own egos, but that is an issue of pride and is a topic for another time.

The comparisons I want to focus on have to do with never feeling adequate enough for the job or parenting or life in general. We look at someone else who always seems to have the Midas touch; everything they handle turns to gold. Meanwhile, we seem to be desperately attempting to hold everything together with duct tape. We then look to the object of our comparison and wonder why we cannot be like them.

I must confess that I sometimes fall prey to this tendency as well. I have a colleague who, from time to time, I find myself measuring my life against. Let me stress that he has done nothing to impose himself upon my psyche in this way. I hold a great admiration for this individual. He is a dynamic leader with great vision and passion. He is a good husband to his wife and a wonderful father to his children. He has abundant resources and the wisdom to apply them so that great success is produced. He is a good role model; however, I periodically drift into an unhealthy look at him in comparison with myself.

I will find myself in a dilemma and think, “Pastor AwesomeGuy would have handled this better.” I experience struggles in my faith-walk and lament, “Pastor AwesomeGuy would never struggle with these things.” It is a whisper that comes from time to time that may stab at me and say, “Pastor AwesomeGuy would have been a better leader or preached a better message or would have been able to execute a better vision.”

Perhaps you can relate to this type of comparison in your own life. Do you have that friend whom you admire but you feel like your life is a far cry from theirs? Do you compare every achievement and failure to how you suppose it would have unfolded for them?

Sometimes we may even find that not only are we comparing ourselves with another individual, but we are also comparing our journey with their journey. We may look at the way our life’s story unfolds and wonder why our story doesn’t go like their story. We ponder, “Why do I seem to get the short end of the stick while he/she always seems to be granted clear sailing? Why can’t my story be more like their story?”

I was having coffee the other morning, and reading in the Gospel of John, chapter 22. A conversation is going on between Peter and Jesus. The Lord just revealed to Peter that his life’s journey would end in martyrdom (John 22:18-19). Peter then looks back and seeing John, asks this of Jesus, “But Lord, what about this man?” (v. 21) Peter was preparing to make a comparison of his life against John’s.

However, Jesus would not entertain that game. “Jesus said to him, ‘If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow me.’” The Lord put a quick halt on the path Peter was heading down. He basically told Peter that John’s journey was not his journey and that Peter should mind his own business and concern himself only with following Christ. John would have to do the same with whatever blessings and struggles lie ahead for him.

The key to Christ’s command to Peter is not simply taking one’s eyes from another’s journey, but following Christ on our own journey. Many times, our life goes awry because we are not really following Christ. Then we make comparisons and become discouraged and even jealous, when much of the fault lies with us.

However, if we wholeheartedly set our minds to follow Christ, we can then find the freedom to abandon the comparison game. We can remove our way from wondering why our story looks differently than another’s. We can allow the Lord to write our story and write a completely different story for another and know that God’s sovereign will is being accomplished and He will therefore be glorified in both lives.

I encourage you to let go of everyone else’s journey and to set your path upon Christ’s will for your life. In this, you will find joy and freedom!

Until next week, may your coffee and contemplations be rich and fulfilling!

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Faith Disclaimer

You’ve surely seen it displayed or heard it proclaimed before. Some sort of disclaimer that reads something like, “I’m a Christian, but I’m not perfect. I mess up. I make mistakes. But God’s grace is greater than my sins.” The Faith Disclaimer.

First of all, let me state categorically, that God’s grace is indeed greater than our sins. It is also true that Christians are not perfect, but let us not forget that the Holy Spirit is in each disciple of Christ perfecting us… if indeed we are being submissive to Him. The problem I see with the above disclaimer is that it is so often used as an excuse for lazy faith. What we must understand is that being lazy in our faith is typically indicative of desiring to be more accepted by the world, and that cannot be passed off as a simple “mistake” for God’s grace to overlook. It is, rather, a willful and deliberate sin.

I would like to invite you to consider the following as you contemplate over a cup of coffee; God’s grace does indeed cover our sins and the blood of Jesus makes us righteous in the eyes of God, but His grace does not correct the witness that our lazy faith has ruined in the eyes of people who still need to know the Savior. Clinging to the moniker of “Christians aren’t perfect” can reveal a self-centered attitude. It is often used by one who only wishes to justify their lazy faith in the eyes of others. There is no real concern for the salvation of others in such proclamations. When we are made aware of our sin it should bring us a deep sorrow that leads to repentance and thereby causes us to take action to turn away from continuing to behave in such a manner. It should not cause us to plant a flag in the ground stating, “I’m not perfect, just forgiven.” In fact, making such statements creates a doubly destructive witness. First, we sin before the eyes of the world and then, instead of acknowledging our wrong and repenting, we dismiss it publicly as if sin is no big deal. If this is your attitude, you need to take a good hard look at the Cross of our Lord Jesus again. Sin is a big deal!

How did we go from the Apostle Paul declaring, “Follow me as I follow Christ,” to “Please don’t judge Jesus by my lukewarm Christianity”? We are called to be His ambassadors; His witnesses! We’re supposed to be an example to look at. They are supposed to see Jesus in us! We cannot simply toss that God-ordained responsibility away by making statements about God’s grace over our lazy faith!

Do not deceive yourself. God’s grace will certainly cover your sin, but it will not fix your broken witness. Justifying lazy faith makes one look like a hypocrite in the world’s view. They will see no power in your Gospel, no difference in your life from theirs, and no reason to put their faith in Jesus Christ over any other. I want to encourage you today to never again use the grace of God to justify your sins before the world. Instead, repent before God, acknowledge your sin before those whom you have sinned in front of, and tell them you are working hard with God to not act in such a manner again.

For example, if you post something on social media that you know you shouldn’t have, do the following:

1) REMOVE IT

2) Post a follow-up stating something like, “Hey everyone. Earlier today I made a post that, when I thought about it later, I knew God was not pleased with. I removed the post and I apologize. It is my desire to honor God in all of my life. I’m working on it one step at a time.”

3) Think before you post next time so you don’t have multiple repeats of the same issue.

Or, if you dishonor God by your behavior around friends:

1) Repent before God.

2) Explain to your friends that what they witnessed in your behavior the other day was not what God is expecting from you. Tell them you wish to honor God in your life and you’ll work to do better. You can even invite them to call you out if there is a next time and if there is and they do, simply say, “You know what? You’re right. Thank you.” That carries much more weight to your Christian witness than, “I’m not perfect, just forgiven.”

When they see your genuine desire to honor God despite your sin, it will add strength to your witness that disclaimers never will.

Romans 13:11-14 – 11 And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. 12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. 13 Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.

Until next week, may your coffee and contemplations be rich and fulfilling.