Summary: The habit of comparing ourselves with others can keep us from God's best.
I Quit: -
In this series, we’ve talked about things we need to quit. Things that can prevent us from fully surrendering to God’s plan for our lives. We’ve talked about how making excuses, complaining, and fear can keep us from God’s best. Now today, I want us to consider another habit that can hurt us - comparing ourselves to others. (READ TEXT)
We compare ourselves to others to “commend ourselves.” We do it so we’ll feel better about ourselves. And when we refuse to surrender to God’s plan for our lives, we often compare ourselves to others to
justify not saying “yes” to God. How do we do this?
1. We compare sacrifices.
Sometimes we try to justify our resistance to God’s call to by pointing out just how we’ve had to sacrifice or suffer more than others. Like a spoiled child, we stomp our feet and yell, “It’s not fair! You’re don’t ask as much of them as you do me. Why do I always have to make the big sacrifices? Why are they more blessed than I am?”
Peter is an example of this in John 21. Jesus told Peter how he’d end his life being martyred. Tradition says Peter was crucified upside down, because he didn’t think himself worthy to be crucified like Jesus. Now, Peter eventually came to terms with the Father’s plan for his life,
including the way he’d die. In fact, it seemed to motivate him.
“I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body, because I know that I will soon put it aside, as our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. And I will make every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things.” - 2 Peter 1:13-15 (NIV)
But Peter wasn’t initially so willing to accept the Father’s plan and raised a question right after Jesus had finished speaking to him about it. After telling Peter about the Father’s plan for how his life would end, Jesus said, “follow me.” But Peter protested, “Lord you’re sure asking far more of me that you are of him!”
“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?’) 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 must follow me.” - John 21:20-22 (NIV)
The day before Thanksgiving an elderly man in Phoenix called his son in New York and said to him, “I called to tell you that your mother and I are divorcing; 45 years of misery is enough. So you call your sister in Chicago and tell her.” Frantic, the son called his older sister, who exploded. “They’re not getting divorced,” she shouted. “I’ll take care of this.” She called Phoenix and said to her father. “You’re NOT getting divorced! Don’t you do a single thing until I get there. I’m calling my brother back, and we’ll both be there tomorrow. Until then, don’t do a thing, DO YOU HEAR ME?” The man hung up the phone and said to his wife. “Okay, dear, you got your wish. The kids are coming for Thanksgiving and paying their own way.”
That’s what you call master manipulation! As parents, we might be tempted to do that to our children; But our heavenly Father never will do that with His children. His call is always straightforward.
“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves
and take up their cross and follow me.” - Matthew 16:24b (NIV)
But what’d He mean by “Take up your cross and follow Me?” Well, here’s what He didn’t mean. He didn’t mean what many think today, that my “cross” is a burden to carry, like a strained relationship, a thankless job, or a physical illness. With self-pitying pride, folks say, “That’s just my cross to bear.” But that’s not what Jesus meant. When Jesus carried His cross to be crucified, no one thought the cross was symbolic of a burden to carry. To a first-century person, the cross meant one thing only: death.
Therefore, “Take up your cross and follow Me” means being willing to die in order to follow Jesus. That’s called “dying to self,” a call to surrender to the Father’s plan. Each time Jesus tells us to take up our cross, He’d also say:
“For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?” - Luke 9:24-25 (NIV)