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.

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

How much I attend church events

How many committees I am a part of at church

How many church meetings and conferences I attend

How many Sunday morning services I come to

... but don’t think you are alone, because pastors do it too

How many members our church may have

How large a building our church has

How many facilities our church has

How much money our church brings in

How large a salary our pastor gets

How many radio and tv programs our pastor is heard on

I hang onto Reggie’s words so much - let’s not say that we are different; let’s just be who God wants us to be! And not even just in terms of just using the word “different” but let’s be concerned even in terms of phrases and terms: “new”, “better”, “fresh”, “contemporary”, “modern” ... words that may seem “different” at first but if we are caught up in too much can become a way of us comparing ourselves to others in a way in which destruction can come about.

Which brings us to our text ...

2 Then she had another baby, Abel. Abel was a herdsman and Cain a farmer. 3-5 Time passed. Cain brought an offering to God from the produce of his farm. Abel also brought an offering, but from the firstborn animals of his herd, choice cuts of meat. God liked Abel and his offering, but Cain and his offering didn’t get his approval. Cain lost his temper and went into a sulk.

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