|"I am important not because of who I am, but because of Whose I am." - james n. watkins|
I was at a writers’ conference recently where the speaker, Jim Watkins, warned against the “three deadly ‘C’s …comparison, copying and criticizing.” He had me at the first “C.”
Comparison. I’m not good enough. Or, on the flip side…I’m awesome! Sometimes both sentiments occur in the same day. Sometimes in the same hour, and the treasured middle ground gets traveled few and far between. So what do we do? One moment we are on top of the world. We may genuinely care about the minions beneath us, and even hope for their success and general good will. But at the moment we our dazzled by our own accomplishments.
Where is the danger? If we have reached our pinnacle shouldn’t that be a wonderful thing? Paul, the author of Galatians, says to “carry each other’s burdens.” The problem with being at the top looking down is that we are at the top looking down, and “below” is the mass of humanity struggling with everyday life, just trying to make it. We are to be there for each other. Not looking down and gloating, but elbow to elbow in the struggle being present, nearby, walking together, giving and receiving. The other danger of looking down is self-deceit/conceit. When our focus rests on ourselves we become blind to the world around us and the sin within us. It is not a healthy or accurate view of ourselves.
So then is the opposite, “I’m not good enough” and “I wish I was more like so-and-so,” attitude better, more Godly and humble? Paul seems to disagree. He instead says to measure ourselves against ourselves. “Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself.” Comparison to others can be crippling and our feelings of inadequacy can impede our obedience to God’s calling. We don’t feel qualified to carry the burdens of others or to fulfill our role in God’s plan.
How do we combat these extremes? By spending time in fellowship with God, reading his Word, prayer, and listening to his voice of truth. When we let his Spirit teach our hearts, then our “jar of clay” becomes filled with life and meaning. We are his children. We have value, are loved, created and chosen. And yet we are also called to be servants and to love our neighbors as ourselves. When God combines these dichotomies, then the load we are called to carry is no longer a trophy or a burden, but a precious gift and our spiritual act of worship.