My five-year old daughter has a new habit of putting simple things on a scale. Recently she said to me “Daddy I am hungry! It’s like a 100 out of 100.” We laugh at how she is putting her hunger on a scale, but we often do this exact thing but with things like our goodness, generosity, or maybe our financial status. We get into the “compare game” and say to ourselves “well I am not as bad as (fill in the blank)”. This attitude is so subtle but it is incredibly dangerous! It is dangerous because it lulls us into believing that the flaws in our character are not something we should be working on because there is no motivation to change them. More importantly it causes us to withdraw from an attitude of dependence on God. A God who accepts us for who we really are despite our flaws. We in essence become a “pharisee” who looks down on the shortcoming of others while “white-washing” our own faults. Jesus in Gospels saved his sternest rebukes for people in this camp!
The challenge for all of us is to not compare! When we are tempted to go down that road we need to stop ourselves and realize that all of us fall short in some area of our lives. And we serve a God who has made up for all of our short-comings in the person of Jesus Christ who died on the cross. So let me ask you:
What area(s) of your life are you apt to compare yourself to others? How can you focus on helping others overcome their shortcoming instead of comparing yourself to them?
I don’t like messes! It is somewhat therapeutic for me to say that but on the other hand I am aware that trying to avoid messes can be a very difficult and sometimes tall order. I am a father of two girls who both like to make a mess on a daily basis. I am also a Pastor and in my job I am required to deal with people who are not always at their best. I am asked to insert myself into their mess! For me that is not always a pleasant experience but one that we need to be comfortable embracing. I have been very challenged by this idea recently as I see in the life and ministry of Jesus no hesitation to insert and in fact place himself directly into people’s messes.
In the gospel of John chapter 9 we see Jesus directly get involved in the life of a man who had simply been born blind. His disciples were simply passing by and took the occasion to ponder the ramifications of our sin upon our bodies. Jesus turns the focus of the discussion off the circumstances that resulted in this man being blind into healing him and the act of the healing being a catalyst for further dialogue between Jesus and the Jewish leaders who were seeking a way to get rid of him. Notice how Jesus inserts himself into this man’s life.
Having said these things, he spit on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man’s eyes with the mud and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing” John 9:6-7 (ESV)
And after literally getting himself dirty by ‘spitting on the ground and making mud with his saliva’ Jesus continued to be involved in this man’s life because his healing created another set of circumstances that saw this man standing before the Pharisees and answering questions.
Sometimes getting involved in someone’s life does not end with one-act, but may require a longer commitment. This is the part that is troubling for many of us. We like the kettle outside of the retail stores at Christmas because we simply throw some money into it and go on our way. Volunteering to go down to the Salvation Army and actually having to spend time with people and getting to hear their story. Too messy! The reality is that a majority of the people who walk into our churches each Sunday have one mess or another going on in their life. Some people have done a really good job of hiding their mess so that it’s hidden from plain sight, but it’s still there! We need to be comfortable with messy people and be willing to insert ourselves into their lives because the end result is life change. The man born blind saw his life changed because Jesus was willing to get messy are you?