20 February 2022
I saw a post recently, which said, "Popcorn is prepared in the same pot, in the same heat, in the same oil and yet ... the kernels do not POP at the same time. Don't compare your child to others. Their turn to POP is coming."
That is a good post, but it can apply to more than children. Substitute the words "your child" with "yourself" and the word "their" with "your" and you will see valuable truth. Consider this version: "Popcorn is prepared in the same pot, in the same heat, in the same oil and yet ... the kernels do not POP at the same time. Don't compare yourself to others. Your turn to POP is coming."
You don't need to compare yourself to others. You may not have been the cool kid or in the popular crowd. I wasn't. Some people have a charisma about them and people flock to them and love them and it seems all know (or know of) them. And God does use such people. Others of us (yes, present company included) may be more subtle, on the margin, doing things in the background not recognized (something I wrote about a few years ago). And God does use such people. However, if I focus on comparing myself to others, it is not fruitful. God uses people who put on a big, recognizable production. And God uses those who operate quietly, even anonymously, or over coffee with one other person. I am who I am, not who someone else is. The same is true of you. This doesn't excuse us from growth. By God's grace, hopefully I am becoming more Christlike day by day. The bottom line is this: Don't compare yourself to others.
Galatians 6:4-5 (NIV) says the following where Paul makes that point:
Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, for each one should carry their own load.
So, we compare ourselves to ourselves, not others. This doesn't mean we don't care about others. In fact, verse 3 of that chapter says, "Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves." Come alongside those who struggle, but do so humbly and don't compare yourself to them or to others (which can become arrogance, self-centeredness or covetousness, depending on the angle). You matter because of Christ. Keep your eyes on Him.
Consider Romans 12:4-8 (NASB):
For just as we have many parts in one body and all the body's parts do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually parts of one another. However, since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to use them properly: if prophecy, in proportion to one's faith; if service, in the act of serving; or the one who teaches, in the act of teaching; or the one who exhorts, in the work of exhortation; the one who gives, with generosity; the one who is in leadership, with diligence; the one who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.
We are all needed in the body of Christ -- those on the margin, those with charisma, those in the background and those esteemed. If you are in Christ, you are who you are in Him.
1 Corinthians 12:4-27 (NASB) echoes the above Romans excerpt and also emphasizes the "weaker" parts of the body in their importance:
Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.
For just as the body is one and yet has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.
For the body is not one part, but many. If the foot says, "Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body," it is not for this reason any less a part of the body. And if the ear says, "Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body," it is not for this reason any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But now God has arranged the parts, each one of them in the body, just as He desired. If they were all one part, where would the body be? But now there are many parts, but one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, "I have no need of you"; or again, the head to the feet, "I have no need of you." On the contrary, it is much truer that the parts of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary; and those parts of the body which we consider less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor, and our less presentable parts become much more presentable, whereas our more presentable parts have no need of it. But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that part which lacked, so that there may be no division in the body, but that the parts may have the same care for one another. And if one part of the body suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if a part is honored, all the parts rejoice with it.
Now you are Christ's body, and individually parts of it.
Christian, you matter because you are part of the Body of Christ. You have a gift to use. You have a role to play.
Maybe you are blessed in a manner where you aren't tempted to compare yourself to others. Extend grace to those who are and keep a humble head about you. In the body of Christ, your brethren all matter. If you are tempted to question your worth and compare yourself to others, remember you belong to Jesus. Be who He made you to be. Do the part that He has called you to do. What others are or what they think doesn't matter. Who Jesus is and what He thinks is all that matters. And you matter to Him.
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