Tag: competition

One Thing We Have in Common With John

It’s weird to think of having anything in common with the people we meet in Scripture, and yet, what an encouragement, right?!

A couple weeks ago as I was preparing an Easter sermon, something struck me that I hadn’t really thought about before.

In John, the apostle, I notice something positive I aspire to, and a weakness we share. Read what John wrote…

John 20: 1 Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance.So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”

So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first.

Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed.

This is both cool and comical!

I love it that John is so grounded in the unshakeable knowledge that he is the one Jesus LOVES!

We are too – each of us as if we are the ONLY one! Like a proud parent, if Jesus carried a wallet, your picture would be in it and He’d want to show it to others with delight! This is the mindset we aspire to – that we would walk into each day with the assurance that we are beloved. No matter what we do or don’t do.

But then, the part that makes me laugh. Here’s he’s writing about the resurrection, but John makes a point of telling us TWICE that he beat Peter to the tomb. He ran faster!

I might be tempted to say “What a guy thing!”, but in our family the women are just as competitive as the men. There is this temptation in each of us to compare what we DO to what others do, even though Jesus tells us it’s not about what we DO, but about what He has DONE for us.

No matter how fast John or you, or I run, we can’t outrun God’s grace.

When we compare, there are two pitfalls. We either get sucked into pride because we’re better than, or despair because we’re worse than. Jesus wants us to know that we aren’t better or worse, but unique and beloved.

John isn’t the only one. Peter compares his life to John’s too.

John 21: 20 Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is going to betray you?”) 21 When Peter saw him, he asked, Lord, what about him?”

22 Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” 23 Because of this, the rumor spread among the believersthat this disciple would not die. But Jesus did not say that he would not die; he only said, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?

When I’m tempted to compare myself to others, this is what I hear Jesus whispering in my ear: “What is that to you?”

Later, Paul writes, “For I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.” Phil.4:11 NIV

One writer notes, “The Greek word rendered ‘content‘ here denotes more than just a throwing up of arms in reluctant acceptance. At its root it literally means: ‘to be satisfied to the point where I am no longer disturbed or disquieted.'”

“Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.” Phil. 4:13 MSG

May we live this day secure, not superior.

Confident without comparing.

 

One of the Hardest “Suggestions” in the Bible

Recently daughter Maggie got a raise and a promotion.

AND she won her first round in the company ping pong tournament.

Of course it was easy to be excited for her, to celebrate her success.

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But sometimes I think one of the hardest “suggestions” in the Bible is “Rejoice with those who rejoice. Mourn with those who mourn.” Romans 12:15

It’s easy to rejoice with someone who’s not taking up MY space, BUT when it’s someone with similar gifts and hopes and dreams getting all the attention? All of a sudden there’s that yucky loserish feeling that rises up.

It doesn’t feel very celebratory. It’s more of an anxious left-out feeling, like when all your friends got an American Girl doll for Christmas and you didn’t.

There are times we just want to say “But what about ME??”

  • You’ve been struggling with infertility and the bazilionth friend excitedly announces her “accidental” pregnancy.
  • You’ve worked diligently to improve your skills only to hear that someone else got a promotion, or a book deal, or a consulting contract while you seem to get no validation.
  • You’re single and you’re asked to be in yet another wedding.
  • You watch as others post pictures of exciting trips to far off places while you discover cheerios stuck in your hair and change poopy diapers.
  • You listen other parents share about their kids’ accomplishments while yours have “issues” that try your patience and faith.

Recently I was re-reading the interaction between Mary and her cousin Elizabeth and it struck me how hard this might have been for her.

I can imagine her thinking, “So…Mary gets first place and all the attention being mama of Messiah and my kid is the weirdo in the desert eating bugs. I am soooo happy for her!”

Instead, when Mary shows up, Elizabeth says:

You’re so blessed among women,
    and the babe in your womb, also blessed!
And why am I so blessed that
    the mother of my Lord visits me? Luke 1:43

#Blessed.

Hmmm… Is it possible Liz struggled with a tiny bit of envy in her less-than-godly moments?

Or maybe she was a grown up in the way I’d like to be – truly able to celebrate EVERYONE else because she KNOWS there is only ONE OF HER. Only ONE Liz that God can use to accomplish His unique purposes.

Now maybe I could write some true and tweet-able stuff that sounds godly about living out of abundance instead of scarcity, but honestly, this can be a tough one sometimes.

Spiritual formation isn’t a pithy saying or easy formula.

So I talk to God.

Me: Lord this really stinks. And you know what else? It’s not fair. And BTW, I really HATE Philippians 2:3. And since we’re being honest here, the LAST thing I feel like doing is a happy dance for this person. Instead I’d be delighted to see them experience a tiny bit of setback, so I am basically a terrible person, but I want to do better. I’d appreciate it if you’d forgive me and help me to love bigger like You do.

God: Ok. Good talk.

I’m continuing to listen and I trust that eventually He will grow a better me out of our little chats.

Anyone else struggle with jealousy? What have you learned?

On Gossip and Ashes and Enough

I heard a really juicy bit of gossip the other day.  It was about someone many of you would know.  It was not favorable.  And it was really tempting to shout it from the rooftops like some ancient town crier, “Hear ye, hear ye!  Do you know what SHE did???!  Can you believe it??”

And, this is the terrible confession I have to have to make:  There was a small part of my dark shriveled prune pit heart that was… delighted.  Yes, delighted because it made me feel “better than”.  Superior.  Like I’m winning the spiritual points Olympics today.

Grace?  Who needs grace?  I’m better than someone!

And then it all came crashing down.  I read something by someone godly.  Much more Jesus-y than me, and getting a lot of attention for being Jesus-y.  And all of a sudden I felt worse than.  Worthless.  Not good enough for kingdom stuff.

How often do we walk into a room and determine our worth (and even the state of our relationship with God) by how well we stack up to others around us?  Do we look for those who are more clearly selfish, sinful, ungrateful, and breathe a sigh of relief that at least we’re not there?  Not that?  We’re better than someone.

Do I define “righteousness” as “better than”?  So “unrighteous” is “worse than”?

I read recently that theologian C.H. Spurgeon once said, “It is easier to save us from our sins than from our righteousness.”

So today we come to the cross and the ashes of this special Wednesday with as much honesty as we can muster.  It’s time to give up the illusion that our righteousness is anything other than filthy rags.   A time to come clean about our dirt.

We are an ashy mess.

Ashes – a gritty reminder of our sinfulness that says to the world, “This is who I am and what I want to repent of.”

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None of us are enough.

We’re never good enough to earn His favor.

But we’re never bad enough to be beyond the reach of God’s grace.

Somehow, in spite of it all, He’s still crazy about us, His stumbling, bumbling children.

We are, all of us, all covered in Ashes.  And nothing we do or don’t do today can make God love us any more.  Or less.  Than He does at this moment.

Lord have mercy.  On me.  A sinner.  A comparer.  An “older brother”.  A prideful striver, an image-manager.

© 2017 Laura Crosby

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