Beware The Comparison Trap

Daily Spirit & Word, 512: Beware The Comparison Trap.

40 Days With Jesus: Day 28. John 21:18-23.

Thank you for your prayers; last night’s meeting of the PCC was wonderful. There were some new members so I got everyone to introduce themselves; tell who they are, where they come from and how long they’ve worshiped in St Luke’s Church. We had a lady who’s new to the Church who wanted to ask questions about everything. It’s amazing, I’d forgotten what it’s like to be NEW in an organisation; there’s just so much we don’t know and it’s a very steep learning curve.

Beware The Comparison Trap:

We’ve got some wonderful blue / purple cornflowers and forget-me-nots in the garden in Springtime, they are stunning, but as they fade, the aquilegia (ladies bonnets) takes over and begins to put a different kind of delicate dance in the wind, they are beautiful, but in a very different way. Each has it’s own glory and unique beauty. So have each and every one of you. You are ALL different and God’s got very different plans for your walk with Him than for anyone else; so beware of the comparison trap.

Do you remember what it was like when you first began reading God’s Word? My first thought was, “What a BIG book, it will take me years to learn to get to grips with this.” Indeed it has and to be honest, though I read the Bible every single day and have done for over 30 years now, I’m constantly surprised by what the LORD shows me. When I read a familiar old passage, one I’ve read hundreds of times, I’ll see something new, some new light is shed upon the glorious holy phrases. God’s Word is always fresh. Today, the Lord has done it again with Peter.

John 21:18-23 18  I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.”
19  Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”
20  Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is going to betray you?”)
21  When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?”
22  Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.”
23  Because of this, the rumour spread among the brothers that this disciple would not die. But Jesus did not say that he would not die; he only said, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?”

“WHAT ABOUT HIM?”: Beware The Comparison TRAP?

I’ve read this particular passage many times, preached upon it a few times, read countless commentaries about it, but it’s only when the Lord seems to highlight something within it the TRUTHS PENETRATE MY HEART, it sinks in and seeps through into every fiber of my being. When God does this through His Word, the result is a transformed life. It’ll be the same for you my friends. A man or woman can write about God’s Word or share about their experience of walking with Jesus, but until we begin to read and walk ourselves, it’s all going to be second-hand. We must not fall into the trap of merely taking what others have said and staying with that, we must seek the LORD for ourselves and for the unique calling and gifts that He’s expecting us to use in our own walk with Him. When we do, we’re going to be used by the Lord to encourage others on their own journey with Jesus.

Peter had just been recommissioned by Jesus, but then almost immediately, after having had his interview with Jesus, wants Jesus to deal with the other disciples; “WHAT ABOUT HIM?” It’s like turning around and pointing the finger at someone else. Jesus rebuke is quite wonderful. “Peter, YOU must follow Me” You’ve got your own calling and destiny. I’ve got plans for you Peter. And Jesus has got plans for you too my friends. So don’t fall into the trap of just hearing Jesus and not doing what He’s calling you to do. Stop looking around at other people and expecting them to do and be the ones.

God has said in so many different ways in His Word: “Don’t merely listen to the word, but do what it says”.

James 1:19-25 19  My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20  for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.
21  Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent, and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.
22  Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.
23  Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror
24  and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.
25  But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.

What do I get from this?

God wants to BLESS you in ALL that you do. However, look again and you’ll see that to be blessed, we must do both, we must LISTEN and ACT upon what we’re learning. Peter almost slipped; he’d just listened to Jesus and learned a valuable lesson about being recommissioned and forgiven, then almost immediately he points the finger at someone else. To be someone who’s constantly drinking in information, and not doing anything with what you are learning; is like a barrel of fine wine with a crack, the wine inside can be of the finest vintage, but if it’s leaking out all over the place, who’s ever going to taste it? God’s Word is the finest wine in His Kingdom that you can ever get into your heart, however, If we don’t do what God has revealed, we’re going to dry up or get clogged up with information overload. It’s only when you act upon what you’ve been learning, hearing and being taught by the Lord, that you’ll get a true understanding of all that He wants you to be and to do.

Thankfully, Peter learned his lesson from Jesus that day. He stopped looking at others and began to live the life Jesus had called him to in the power of the Holy Spirit. He did indeed die a wonderful martyrs death being crucified. However, tradition had it that Peter was crucified upside down, because he didn’t feel worthy to be crucified in exactly the same way as Jesus. I don’t know if that part is true, but we do know that Peter was led with outstretched hands to death for Jesus and His Kingdom. That was after a lifetime of serving Jesus so powerfully.

Don’t BE a Sponge Type of Christian: Only soaking-up Information.

I’ve know people in some great teaching churches, they love to hear the Gospel’s and the Word of God being expounded. Then they’ll go home and listen to some more great teaching on the internet. They’ll buy the CDs or Tapes and even Download hours of sermons. Some will even makes some notes. Then they’ll move onto the next sermon series, the next great teaching, the next fantastic, wonderfully gifted preacher, expounding God’s Word, but they’ll never get around to actually APPLYING what they’re hearing and learning. There’s a danger that we’ll become like the people of Athens in Paul’s time, who just wanted to hear the latest teachings. It’s like people who’ve got to be listening to the latest news 24/7… My friends, at some point in our walk with Jesus, we’ve got to get out and begin to DO what He’s gifted us for. Christ didn’t call you to be a knowledge sponge, soaking up great teaching, He called you to serve HIM with all your heart, mind, will and strength. Serving the Lord means doing, it means, acting, it means getting out into the world and using your unique gifts and talents to lead others to faith and trust in the Saviour as your first order of priority. Then, you’re calling also means serving Him in your gatherings, but let’s not pretend that’s all He’s called us to. So many Christians and whole gatherings of the saints settle for just serving Jesus once a week for an hour. I’ve known some Christians who get exhausted doing just that very little bit of service, as if they’ve been working at it all week. It makes me laugh sometimes when I hear people moaning how exhausted with the service they’ve become. For goodness sake, it’s ONLY AN HOUR or TWO once a week. We gather only once or twice a week, what about the other five days? We’re called to be active in His kingdom not for an hour on a Sunday, but for every waking hour. We’re God’s Ambassadors and an Ambassador is never off duty; He’s being constantly monitored by his host country. Even in the embassy, they’ll be watching, and waiting and looking for him to slip-up or to see if he’s really serving his government with all his heart.

Like Peter, You are an Ambassador for Jesus Christ in this world, so you need to act like one and let others see the light and experience the goodness of you’re LORD’S Kingdom. To do that, you’ve got to be ready to serve. Yes, you do need the gatherings of the saints to be equipped, you do need to hear great teaching, you do need to get equipped to serve, but at some point, and I would say the sooner the better, you’ve got to begin to use what He’s given you. Get out and get on with what the Lord has graciously poured into your life. You’ve got the goodness of the wine of the Kingdom within you, now it’s time to let the world taste the best vintage of all. Let them savour the wine of the Kingdom through your life. Stop looking at others and saying; “LORD, WHAT ABOUT HIM?” or “LORD, WHAT ABOUT HER?” Jesus has got His own plans for you my friends, and with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, you’ll be of great use in His Kingdom. Be His Ambassador today.

You’ve got the goodness of the wine of the Kingdom within you, now it’s time to let the world taste the best vintage of all; serve Jesus today.

I don’t want any of you to fall into the traps of comparing yourself with anyone else or of hearing Jesus Word and not doing it. You’ve got the goodness of the wine of the Kingdom within you, now it’s time to let the world taste the best vintage of all; serve Jesus today.

Don.

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40 Days With Jesus; Day 28: Beware The Comparison Trap.