“If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You follow me.”
Do you ever compare yourself or your life to others? If we’re honest, this is a trap most of us fall into at some point. We see what God is doing in the lives of those around us and instead of being genuinely happy for them, if we are not careful, we can become envious or even critical.
My two older boys are 17-months apart – they are now 7 and 6. Needless to say competition and comparison between them is more than fierce. If one gets new shoes or clothes, the other wonders he didn’t. If one gets invited to a birthday party or friend’s house, the other wonders when his turn will come. If one seemingly gets a larger helping of dessert, the other wonders why there was such an injustice. It seems that many times a week I find myself reminding one or the other to only worry about himself and not about his brother.
The other night after it seemed I had given this reminder to both boys countless times that day, I realized how the issue of comparison doesn’t necessarily go away as we grow older; the type of comparison just changes. You see where God allows others to make impressive strides in their profession, meanwhile you drudge away in the same old job. God blesses your friend with a new home and you wonder why your five-year home has seemingly become your permanent residence. You see God use someone else in powerful ways and you feel that your talents continued to go unnoticed and unused. While the scenarios may be different, I think it is a fair estimation to say we have all compared our lives to someone else’s at some time in some way.
In John 21:15-25 we read of a conversation between Jesus and Peter that took place after Jesus had risen from the dead and reappeared for span of time. During this period, before His final ascension into heaven, Jesus pulled Peter aside to have a heart-to-heart. As Peter had denied Jesus three times before His crucifixion, Jesus now asked Peter three times if he loved Him. Jesus was essentially giving Peter a fresh start and clean slate. As their conversation was about to wrap up, Peter glanced behind him and saw John following them. In verse 21 we pick the up the story, When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?” Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You follow me.”
“What is that to you, you follow me.” Now there is a directive we would all be wise to follow. Often when I find myself about to compare myself or my life to others these words ring in my mind. I find freedom in knowing that it doesn’t matter what Jesus does in the lives of those around me, I only need to concern myself with what He is asking of me. My focus needs to be on Jesus alone.
The truth is, concerning ourselves with what is God is doing in the lives of others rather than ourselves only leads to frustration and discouragement.
In reality we should be genuinely happy for what God does in the lives of others and how He chooses to use and bless them. Just because God uses or blesses someone else, does not mean He loves or cares for us any less. It simply means that He has different plans for all of us and He is at work in special ways in each of our lives for His glory. What is ironic is that no doubt others are likely looking at your life and comparing how God has used and blessed you compared to them.
How do you find yourself comparing your life to others today? Give it to God and choose to focus only on Jesus and what He is calling you to do. Remember Jesus’ words to Peter, “What is that to you, you follow me.”
Focus only on following Jesus and break free from the trap of comparison today.