While I was in Haiti I had the honor of preaching on that Friday night and my topic was about Comparison and how we all fall prey to it – and more importantly, how we can be free from it. Thought I would share my notes here.
We Are Fearfully and Wonderfully Made
I love the story of Creation. Everything about it warms my heart and causes me to look at the sky, the sun, the animals, our planet with awe and wonder. God, our Father simply spoke this world, this universe into existence.
Then, in a much more intimate act, He knelt on the ground and formed man from the dust of the earth. Genesis 1:27 tells us that He created us in His image. He created us to reflect who He is. He even looked at this creation – man – and said, “This is very good.”
Even more amazing is the moment that He caused Adam to fall into a deep sleep and from a rib in his side fashioned woman. He made woman from a part of man – not the ground. He took something from Adam and made Eve. That’s a whole separate message, but definitely something to ponder.
We are all unique individuals. Not one of us matches another 100%. Scientists have even proven that identical twins have differences. We were lovingly and thoughtfully created by the Master Creator, God. Scripture even confirms how unique we are, how important we are to Him.
With the same intimate, thoughtful care He created Eve, He created you!
Comparison Creeps In
But something happened in the Garden of Eden to cause us to lose sight of how amazing and special we are. Something so horrible, so sad, that it changed the course of humanity forever.
You know the story – there were two specific trees in the Garden. One, the Tree of Life, was meant to keep Adam and Eve sustained in their eternal state. Two, the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, was meant to be left alone because in eating from this tree, their relationship with God would be severed. It was all about choice. Choosing to stay in relationship with God or not.
Eve listened to the serpent and believed the lie that God was holding out on her. She compared what she had (her relationship with God and everything she knew to be true about Him) to what she thought she didn’t have (that she could be like God – knowing good and evil).
Genesis 3:1-7 tells us that story. All it took was a seed of doubt to be planted and it rooted in her heart, causing her to doubt that who she was right now wasn’t enough. Eve looked at the fruit on the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and thought it looked better than any other tree in the garden. She compared it to all the others. It looked to be better. She wanted it.
That’s what we do today – compare. God gives us gifts, talents, beauty, joy, laughter, children, homes, food, jobs. . .you name it. . .but the enemy comes in to our minds and plants the thought that someone else has it better. He uses things like books, movies, social media – things where people are always perfect, always presenting their “A” game – to cause us to believe that someone is better off than we are, a better parent than we are, more financially stable than we are, thinner than we are. You name it. We’ve seen it and we’ve believed it at times.
When Adam and Eve ate from that tree, their eyes were opened and they lost relationship with the Father. They received the ability to know good and evil. And life, as they knew it, changed forever.
The enemy of our souls comes in to steal, kill and destroy. He doesn’t want us to fully know who God made us to be. He doesn’t want us to walk in our God-given identities, our destinies, or in the authority we’ve been given. He fights us because he knows if we truly recognize who we are, we become fierce warriors in the kingdom of God.
Stories of Comparison in Scripture
There are many examples of comparison in Scripture. Here are a couple for reference.
Genesis 4 – Cain & Abel. Poor Cain. He just wasn’t happy that Abel’s sacrifice was accepted and his wasn’t. Because of that he became jealous, enraged. God even coached him along saying, “Hey! Sin is crouching at your door. Hey Cain! Don’t do this. You can have victory over this.” (My paraphrase). But he didn’t. And he killed his brother.
1 Samuel 18 & 19 – Saul and David. Saul just couldn’t handle that David was more successful than he was. When he heard them chanting, “Saul has killed his thousands, but David has killed his tens of thousands,” well, he wasn’t a happy camper. Jealousy and rage filled him as well. And instead of celebrating with David, he tried to kill him. Over and over and over again.
There are other stories as well, but I think you get the jist of what I’m saying. Comparison causes us to focus on what we don’t have instead of focusing on what we do have. Jealousy, which is rooted in our flesh, will kill you if you nurture it.
In the New Testament we see what the fruit looks like from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil (the flesh) and the Tree of Life (the spirit). In writing to the church at Galatia, Paul explains in great detail what happens when the flesh overrides the spirit.
16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever[a] you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited,provoking and envying each other.
Stop Eating from that Tree!
I think we should stop eating from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Let’s stop eating the fruit of the flesh. Let’s stop going back to the tree that causes us to judge others, live by unrealistic rules and demand justice. This tree demands that we set expectations of ourselves and others that can never be met. This tree demands that we keep up with all the successes of others. This tree demands that we feel jealous, envious and even frustrated with our fellow brothers and sisters because they have successes we don’t.
Instead, we should focus on eating from the Tree of Life. The tree that give us love, life, joy, and peace and all the fruit of the Spirit. The tree that gives us the fruit of being able to celebrate other’s successes and victories.
You be You
I want to be the best me I can be. I’m not you. We are all unique. But if I’m constantly trying to be you, I lose me. I shortchange myself and live my life constantly chasing something that will never allow me to be me.
I believe when we really grasp who we are – who God really made us to be – in our hearts as well as our minds – we will let go of comparison. We will begin to love and honor one another – supporting each other, celebrating each other’s victories and successes.
That sounds like a much more exciting place to live from. Don’t you think? I think Paul summed it quite well.
Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit,if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.