Summary: Continuing in our series we look at how our offering is so much more than what we put in the plate - it is how we live.

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Intro: What-chu-gaht! The dangerous life of comparisons.

How do you shop?

For me I’d rather go to the appropriate store for the appropriate item - I prefer BJ’s or Sam’s Club for meat because I can get it cheaper in bulk have the butchers cut it up and package it so that I can freeze it when I get home. For fruits and vegetables I plan to eat within a day I’ll go to Krogers, but if I want to have good quality produce, I’ll either go to the farmer’s market, or Harris Teeter. If I want to get sodas, chips, and crackers for the best price, I’ll go to Food Lion. If I want to get the mere-chino cherries that my wife likes to eat right out the jar, I’ll know I need to go get the Kroger brand glass jarred cherries. I prefer to go to the bakery surplus store to get breads and pastries

Well comparison shopping is nice, but when you spend more time, gas, and resources to get to the best deals so that you are actually causing more waste than gain it’s a problem.

I could go to the bakery, but it’s on the other side of town causing me more gas to get there. And it’s not like can just call to see what’s left; I actually have to go there and look. And if I need hamburger buns, and breakfast pastries, but they only have hot dog buns then I’ve wasted resources. And if I buy 20 bags of bread but can’t get through them all within the next week, they mold and resources are wasted.

So comparison can be both a good thing and a problem in the grocery world;

it can be both a good thing and a bad thing in the church, too.

Two shopkeepers were bitter rivals. Their stores were directly across the street from each other, and they would spend each day keeping track of each other’s business. If one got a customer, he would smile in triumph at his rival.

One night an angel appeared to one of the shopkeepers in a dream and said, "I will give you anything you ask, but whatever you receive, your competitor will receive twice as much. Would you be rich? You can be very rich, but he will be twice as wealthy. Do you wish to live a long and healthy life? You can, but his life will be longer and healthier. What is your desire?"

The man frowned, thought for a moment, and then said, "Here is my request: Strike me blind in one eye!"

We’ve got really serious problems when it’s easier to show sympathy and "weep with those who weep" than it is to show joy and "rejoice with those who rejoice." (Steven Kellett)

What’s really sad is that when it comes to the game of life it can become very easy to compare:

The clothes we wear

The shoes or sneakers we wear

The car we drive

The place we live

The job we have

The education we have; the titles we wear

Our age compared to someone else

The school our children go to

... let’s get a little closer to home, because church folks don’t do those things

The length of time we’ve been “saved”

The number of Bible verses we’ve memorized

The position we have at church

The number of years we’ve been going to a particular church

How close we are to certain members of the church

How much I give in tithes and offerings to church

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