Avoiding the comparison trap as we serve our Master

Avoiding the comparison trap as we serve our Master

We so easily slip into comparing ourselves with others. We notice the cars others drive and draw conclusions about them based on the suburb they live in or the occupation they work in. Magazines work on the principle that we would all like to live like the rich and famous, lazing about on yachts rather than whatever it is we are doing today. And social media amplifies this, showing us the best side of our friends’ lives, making us feel dissatisfied and envious.

Wealth and abilities are not distributed evenly through the world. It has always been this way. We even see it in the teaching of Jesus in the parable of the talents in Matthew 25. A master (representing Jesus) gives three servants (representing the disciples) very large, but very different, amounts of money. Each servant is expected to work hard with what they have been given and give a return to the master when He returns. One of many remarkable aspects of this parable is that each of the first two servants receives exactly the same words of praise from the master. God is just as pleased with the one who made five talents from the five he started with as he is with the one who made two talents from the two he started with. What God looks for is what his people do with what they have been given. What matters is not how we compare to others, but what we do for God with our specific set of abilities, resources and life circumstances.

It is the same with spiritual gifts in the church. Romans 12 reminds us that each believer has gifts from the Spirit which are different from one another. We are each called to use the gift we are given. It doesn’t matter if our gift is different, or less up-front, or less recognised by others. We are each responsible for using what we have.

On the Last Day, God is not going to mark on the normal distribution curve, comparing you to all other believers. No, God wants to know what you, with your unique set of circumstances, have done with what you have been given. Don’t get distracted by comparing yourself to others with more obvious wealth or up-front gifts; they have to answer to God for what they have been given, and you need to answer for what you have been given.

This is freeing in the end; so much unhappiness comes from comparing ourselves to others! It so easily leads to feelings of inadequacy or superiority. Instead, we should be encouraging one another to serve God in a wide variety of different ways. We are not in competition with other Christians.

If you struggle with the effects of older age, or a disability, or a really messy family situation, this principle is encouraging for you. Perhaps you feel your lack of capacity compared to some others you know. Remember that this is not the point; God doesn’t grade on a curve. You are called to serve God with what you have. If that is a little right now, that doesn’t make you inferior; what will you do with the little you have?

And if you know you have been richly blessed with wealth, or time, or some other ability, remember that God expects a lot from you. Use what you have well and with enthusiasm for the kingdom.

Our Master, in His great wisdom, has spread his gifts as He has chosen to. Let’s not be angry at some feeling of unfairness over this; it is unfair that any of us has anything at all except judgement! Let’s use what we have with joy and encourage our brothers and sisters to do the same.