Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Comparison Problem

“Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.” Mark 9:35

Comparing ourselves to others seems to be deeply woven into each of us. This “comparison problem” has been happening since the beginning of time. Adam and Eve were tempted into the first sin because they were comparing themselves to God (Genesis3:4-7). Cain murdered his brother Abel when he began comparing how God favored Abel’s offerings over his own (Genesis 4:1-8). Saul became jealous of David when he saw that others admired David more than they did himself (1 Samuel 18:6-9). In the text where today’s verse comes from, the twelve disciples have been arguing amongst themselves over who was the greatest (Mark 9:33-37).

As parents we are very familiar with this “comparison problem”. Repeatedly we see our children compare the amount of a special treat that they received compared to the amount their sibling or friend received. Our children compare whose punishment was worse or “how come they got away with it?” They compare who has the better clothes and toys. Sometimes they even compare who is more loved by parents, liked by teachers, or popular with friends.

We are not off the hook here either. If we are honest with ourselves, we are guilty of being a part of this “comparison problem” as well. From the time our children are born we begin comparing them to all the other children we know. We compare how big or small they are, how quickly or slowly they learn things, how good or bad their grades are in school, and how they shape up next to the other kids on the team.

It’s not just our kids we are guilty of comparing either. So many of us struggle with this “comparison problem” when we start comparing our parenting skills to those of other parents we know. Sometimes we look at others and think how much better they are than us and we make ourselves feel like failures. Other times we look at others and begin to boast, even if only in our thoughts, about how much better we are at parenting than they are.

No matter who we look at this “comparison problem” one thing is for sure. It always leads to sin. God does not compare us to one another and size up whom He will bless more or less, and God does not want for us to do that with others. In our verse today, Jesus tells His disciples, “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.” Jesus Himself demonstrated this for us repeatedly during His ministry here on earth by being a servant, not asking to be served.

This sin of comparison is a hard one for us to battle with. There is no easy cure and it is something that sinful humans have and always will have to do battle against. The best we can do as sinful humans is to work daily to put on a servant’s heart and look to God for help and guidance.

Most of all, we turn this “comparison problem” over to God, who through Jesus suffering, death, and resurrection takes these and all other sins upon Himself. Through Jesus blood, God forgives us of these sins and makes us free to receive His salvation.

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father we pray that you help us with our “comparison problem”. Forgive us and lead us in all we do and say. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.

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