Understanding God’s Relationship
For the past few weeks we have been talking about ways to overcome Discontent. The 10th commandment is the tough one because it tells us not to envy or covet. The first problem we face with discontent is comparison. What a sneaky enemy. It may start small, under the guise of admiring a friend’s new job or social finesse. Then a question creeps in: Why don’t I have that? Am I not good enough? I’m working hard why don’t I get the approval he/she does? A friend gets married or has a baby or gets a new job or. . . . and instead of rejoicing you are sulking.
Maybe, like me, you run through a checklist of your own gifts and achievements to reassure yourself of your own superiority-, er, I mean place in the body of Christ, and then fall into self-pity when someone else’s gifts look better than yours.
What a life-sucking cycle. Though we may momentarily shrug off comparison as a bad habit, in order to effectively fight it we need to recognize its true nature. Comparison is an attitude that says God hasn’t given me enough. He is better to others than he is to me. He is holding out on me, and I deserve more.
Comparison springs from a lie about who God is and what we deserve before him, and it communicates this lie to our own hearts and to others. We have heard this lie before—this was the original lie that Satan told Eve: God is withholding the good gift of knowledge from you. Eve imagined a life with more and decided she should have that, instead of what God had already given her. Is this not the lie that Satan himself was chasing, in rebelling against God’s power? I deserve more glory. What God has given is not enough for me, so I will take what should be mine.
Comparison grows from the same seed as blasphemy and rebellion against God. With this understanding of comparison’s true nature, it is easy to see that we, as people who trust in God’s sufficiency, should have nothing to do with it.
So what does Jesus teach us:
For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. (John 6:38)
…I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me. (John 8:28)
So my relationship with Jesus gives me all of importance I need in life. But most of the time I fail to realize it in daily life. So how do I break free from comparison?
So for us, what does this mean about our habit to compare? If only we had the perfect peace and satisfaction that Jesus shows us! While we might be far away from such trust, we can ask God to shape our own attitudes after that of Christ, because Jesus invited us into relationship with the Father.
To fight our own sinful, inward-looking tendencies, we need not only to stop believing the lies of comparison but to fill our minds with the truth about what God has given us.
1. Remember the riches that God has lavished upon you.
He has adopted us as his own children. And as his children, we don’t need to compete for his attention. Even if God were to remove all the materials things we consider to be his gifts in this life, this relationship is secure because he is one who sustains it.
2. Repent of seeking glory for yourself and believing a lie about God.
What freedom we have, that we can not only confess this to God but also ask him to come to a true understanding of him. Paul asks this on behalf of the Ephesians: he prays that they would have the strength to know the “breadth and length and height and depth” of the love of Christ—the truth of how great God’s love was toward them. We can ask God to give us the trust that Jesus has and to give us a great desire to see him glorified.
3. Reject the lie that God is holding out on you, and replace it with truth.
When you find yourself grumbling over not having something that someone else has, refuse to follow that train of thought any longer. No! If you are trusting Christ, it is because God has sought you and loved you first. Someone else’s talents do not mean that you are lower in God’s eyes. Remind yourself that you are secure in God’s love and his calling. Build up an arsenal of Scripture that exposes comparison’s lies. Jesus was quick to refute lies with a right understanding of God. Also, reject the lie that you deserve something better from God. God does not owe any one of us a better life; everything that we receive from him is undeserved, but he gives to us from his great mercy.
4. Rejoice in God’s love.
Jesus speaks with such familiarity and anticipation about returning to the Father. Soak you mind in the goodness of God’s love and beauty. Spend more time thinking about his power to forgive and restore than you do thinking about your brokenness. Read Jesus’ words about his Father to see the peaceful relationship he has invited us to. Jesus is our perfect example. He came not to make himself great, but to make the Father great. In this goal he lives in perfect freedom and peace. For us, what a better prize this would be than our own esteem! Let’s rest in God’s abundant love and fight toward freedom to seek his glory.