>> Thursday, March 25, 2010
Friends: How Will You Compare?
(part 2 in series, Friendship=Sanctification)
“Be reasonable when you think about yourself. Keep in mind the amount of faith God has given you. Each of us has one body with many parts. And the parts do not all have the same purpose. So also we are many persons. But in Christ we are one body. And each part of the body belongs to all the other parts. We all have gifts. They differ in keeping with the grace that God has given each of us.”
Romans 12:3b-6a, NIRVIt’s so true. One of the struggles that can kill a friendship and FAST is comparison. It can work either way: Comparing by putting someone on a pedestal, or comparing by looking down from yours. Sometimes we’re one, sometimes we’re the other. It may seem harmless, but more often than thought, those thoughts take root, causing bitterness, pride or irritability to grow inside.
God’s idea is for Christian relationships to be unified, one in spirit and in Truth. We know this to be true. Then why is it so hard sometimes? This will be the subject of the next article in the series, but for now, let’s focus on comparison. What do you compare in your friends, and ask the Lord to help you be honest with yourself. Is it outward appearances? Money or possessions? Gifts and talents? Parenting? Popularity? Personality? Love languages? Spiritual maturity? Physical fitness? Domestic abilities? Spouses? Kids?
Here at the beginning, stop for a moment and ask yourself how you’ve compared yourself with a friend lately (or even a family member), either looking up at them or down at them or both. Settle on one or more that have caused you negative attitudes or emotions.
Okay, I’ve got mine. Ugh.
Now, think back to any thoughts you’ve had of them that caused you either jealousy, pride, anger, envy or bitterness.
Let’s take their names and place them in the blanks of these verses:
“With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse ______________, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing of _______________. My brothers, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring?” (James 3)
Okay, I know...ouchy. This hurt when I read it a few months ago, because the Lord used it to convict me of someone I claimed to love and yet was criticizing over and over again. So what’s the alternative? He led me to continue reading in James:
"Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such 'wisdom' does not come down from Heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom that comes from Heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere."
James 3:13-18, NIV
Remember to read these verses through the eyes of grace and not legalism. It is absolutely impossible to live them out on your own. Allow this Word of the Lord to give you the desire to make a change, not to send you into condemnation of yourself or another. It starts with seeking Him. Ask Him to expose His Truth in your being through the discernment of the Holy Spirit, to shine light where any darkness lies. Submit yourself to Him and tell Him you are willing to love others His way, even if they don’t return it. It is hard work from the perspective that we may have to submit our thoughts to the Lord over and over and over again. And again. And then again. We’ll talk about that more in Part 3: The “E” Monsters. Until then, I pray the Lord encourages you today with His faithful and perfect love toward you. Your friends may fail to love you the way you need to be loved, but HE—this amazing Lover of your soul—will love you through and through, no matter what, always & forever. No friend has ever or will ever compare to Him.
If you’d like to read Part 1 in the series, click here: