Playing the comparison game

October 19th, 2016

I’ve always felt an affinity with Peter. Sometimes I like to think he was named Rock... as in, “dumb as a rock.” He’s often impulsive with his actions and words. I tend to be, too.

Peter has this really intimate moment with Jesus on the beach.

Peter was sad that Jesus asked him a third time, “Do you love me?” He replied, “Lord, you know everything; you know I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. I assure you that when you were younger you tied your own belt and walked around wherever you wanted. When you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and another will tie your belt and lead you where you don’t want to go.” He said this to show the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. After saying this, Jesus said to Peter, “Follow me.” (John 21:17b-19)

Peter doesn’t respond with a “I will go” or even a, “Hey, are you sure?” He sees the other disciple “whom Jesus loved” and Peter says, “Lord, what about him?”

I love Jesus’ response: “What difference does that make to you? You must follow me.” Or in the NIV, “What is that to you?”

Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.”

Boy, ain’t that the truth.

Nothing good comes from comparing yourself with someone else. It will usually either bring out your pride or bring out your envy — both tools that can be used to dismantle peace, unity and community.

Sometimes we even begin to view that neighbor, whom we are called to love, not as a neighbor but as our competition.

Someone has to be a winner and a loser when we’re playing the comparison game.

If we think we’re winning, our joy can be replaced by arrogance.

If we think we’re losing, our joy is swallowed up by jealousy and resentment.

Why does he get that corner office?
Why is she allowed to work out-of-the-office and I’m forced to work in the office?
Why did she get that promotion?
What does he have that I don’t?

That kind of jealousy obstructs our vision and eliminates any chances of working together toward a common goal. Not only that, it can set us up for unrealistic expectations. We only see a fragment of the person’s story; just the highlight package of their success. We don’t see the hard work that they may have invested.

Peter asks Jesus, “What about him?” And Jesus responds, “What’s it to you? Just follow me.”

We’re called to follow Christ. God created each of us with purpose and intention.

God has called you with a clear purpose that is uniquely yours. You’re called to be you. Not him. Not her. Not them.

You must follow me.

Don’t worry about what Jim is doing in children’s ministry. Don’t worry about what Sarah is doing as the lead pastor. Or what anyone else is doing, for that matter. God has a unique plan and purpose for them. What is it to you in their journey with God? Each of us is called to work for God’s Kingdom. God made us different, equipping us with unique gifts and talents and empowering us for our own callings and life’s work.

We’re in this together. We all have the same goal.

Comparison leads us away from the work of the Kingdom.

So instead of comparing, let’s be grateful.

For our teammates. For teamwork. For community. For an opportunity to serve.

It’s difficult to be resentful, envious, angry or competitive when we truly have a thankful heart.

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