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The Temptation of Comparison

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Jesus said this to let him know by what kind of death he would glorify God. Then Jesus told him, "Follow me." Peter turned around and saw behind them the disciple Jesus loved--the one who had leaned over to Jesus during supper and asked, "Lord, who will betray you?" Peter asked Jesus, "What about him, Lord?"   Jesus replied, "If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? As for you, follow me."   -- John 21: 19-22 (NLT)


We are so horribly predictable in this flesh we live in. Peter has just been restored by Jesus, who gives him insight into his eventual martyrdom (Peter would be crucified as well). Restored after bragging about how he would never desert Christ only to deny even knowing Him and cursing himself in doing so. Instead of being ecstatic about the restoration, he looks to the Apostle John and essentially asks Jesus -- wait a minute -- what about him? If I am going to be martyred for you -- what about him? Isn't he the one that is called "the one Jesus loved" -- what about him? Why me Lord -- what about him?


Isn't this so much like how we can be as well? We see others being promoted in ministry and ask why him? Why not me? We have been called into a season of suffering and see others we have judged as somehow less spiritual than we are and ask -- what about him? What about her? In trying to justify our feelings we compare ourselves to someone else. To assuage our feelings of insecurity, super-spirituality, or even the feeling of somehow being burdened by the Lord we can look to others and essentially say to God -- what about him? What about her? The devil wants us comparing ourselves as a means to end up either doubting God or resenting Him. By comparing we can feel as if something is somehow unfair to us or that God somehow must have forgotten something in His plan. God is the author beloved. Let's take a look at two Biblical examples of people who gave into the temptation of comparison and the results.


Joseph was the favorite child of the 12 sons of Jacob. The Bible shows us this plainly:


Jacob loved Joseph more than any of his other children because Joseph had been born to him in his old age. So one day Jacob had a special gift made for Joseph--a beautiful robe. But his brothers hated Joseph because their father loved him more than the rest of them. They couldn't say a kind word to him. -- Genesis 37: 3-4 (NLT)


Joseph's brothers compared themselves to him and were jealous. So jealous that they hated their own brother and could not even bring themselves to say a kind word towards him. This is one reason why the enemy loves to whisper seeds of comparison into our ears. It plants jealousy in our hearts. If not rooted out the jealousy turns into bitterness and the gateway to deeper sin is opened:


When Joseph's brothers saw him coming, they recognized him in the distance. As he approached, they made plans to kill him. "Here comes the dreamer!" they said. "Come on, let's kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns. We can tell our father, "A wild animal has eaten him.' Then we'll see what becomes of his dreams!" -- Genesis 37: 18-20 (NLT)


Can you imagine! Now we can get into the dangers of favoritism in families and the need for greater humility on Joseph's part but none of that excuses what is now happening. By comparing their perceived love from their father to what he showed Joseph the seeds of sin were planted. When the comparison turned into jealousy they did nothing to stem the sin tide. When it turned into resentment the sin tide rose even higher. By the time we get to this point what started as a comparison has grown to murderous anger. Thankfully, one brother had a slightly cooler head and convinced them to merely sell their brother into slavery! And you thought you had family issues!


Now, not all comparison has to lead this far. This is obviously an extreme but it highlights the dangers of comparing your lot in life to others. Today's deep theology for you is this -- life is not always fair. But despite the inherent unfairness we serve a God who is always just by nature. We do not have to worry about getting even. We do not have to worry about payback. We do not have to worry about anything and never need to ask the question -- what about him? What about her?

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