Summary: Defeating the deadly temptation to compare ourselves with others--getting our eyes back on Christ!
Theme: 7 Deadly Temptations Series
Purpose: Defeating the temptation to compare ourselves to others, Eyes on Christ
Today we start a new series I am calling the 7 Deadly Temptations.
o Have you heard of the 7 deadly sins? These are just about as bad—except that we can overcome them! We can win over temptation!
o We will be covering a different temptation each week, and I think, even the most seasoned Christian (read old) faces these temptations from time to time
o Emerson, talking about temptation said, “Call on God, but row away from the rocks!”
o Thomas Watson said, “Who would have thought to have found adultery in David, and drunkenness in Noah, and cursing in Job? If God leaves a man to himself, how suddenly and scandalously may sin break forth in the holiest man on earth!”
o What I have been saying—keeping in step with the Spirit is not only a daily walk, but sometimes a moment by moment walk—always facing the same question, “Will you trust me with your obedience?”
o Let me remind us of that pivotal verse in 1 Cor 10:13, “No temptation has seized except what is common to man. And God is faithful, He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted God will provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”
o Everyone goes through the same temptations
o God knows your limits and is believing in you to be obedient…inviting you to trust him with your obedience
o There is always an escape route that He will provide—look for it.
Today we are going to look at the Temptation to Compare Ourselves to Others
o Pastor Marc read from 2 Cor 10. Let me give you some context:
--false teachers, practiced in the art of speaking / oratory
--they would charge their hearers when they spoke—more like going to a conference than church
--Paul says in 10:12 that they “measure themselves with themselves” meaning that they thought anyone else was not worthy to compare themselves to
--Even worse, the Corinthians started to compare Paul with these false teachers—Paul, these guys are smooth, what have you got?
--Paul says in verse 13, that he will only boast in the Lord—Paul is trying to show and tell the Corinthians that comparing ourselves with ourselves is not the way to go.
--In verse 18 Paul says that “it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.”
o I think this is a problem within the Christian church—a deadly temptation that we all face from time to time—the temptation to compare ourselves with others
Why do we do it? Why do we compare ourselves with other believers?
1. So we can see our progress
2. to see whether we are moving in our spiritual life in relation to others or are we stagnating
3. Sometimes I think we compare ourselves with others around us to see where we fit (some feel real pressure to be as spiritual ((or not)) as those around them—actually a good thing if it spurs others genuinely toward spiritual growth—
--mentors in the Lord are good—but the downside is that they are not perfect—they will fail, they will have a bad day sometimes
4. The danger in this temptation is that our constant comparing ourselves with others helps us self-justify our lack of spiritual growth—after all, one might say, I am not a spiritual giant, but I am not as bad as you—not something we would say out loud, but you and I do the math in our heads all the time.
While we are here, there seem to be two tensions in the spiritual life that bear a moment of our attention:
Personal Relationship with Jesus ----- Believers in Community
--have to have a personal relationship --have to be a part of community
--it has to be real with Jesus --I need support and accountability
--to a certain degree, my lack of spiritual growth not only affects me, but the community of believers I am a member of—my growing in Christ will help inspire others though too
--But when it comes to comparing, we have to be so careful—Paul says don’t do it
--Because we are vitally connected to community, we can’t help but notice other people— we have to be careful not to look at people, but at Christ
Dangers of Comparing Ourselves with Others
o We may become self-satisfied spiritually—“I’m alright—as good as the pastor’s wife, as good as the Board members”
o When we keep our eyes on other people, we will be disappointed—people will fail us, they will hurt us sometimes
o We may base our attitude of forgiveness on what others do—have you ever met bitter Christians? I have and its not pretty—and when you and I are self-justifying, we will find any excuse to do what we want to do