“Peter turned around and saw behind them the disciple Jesus loved – the one who had leaned over to Jesus during supper and asked, ‘Lord, who will betray You?’ Peter asked Jesus, ‘What about Him, Lord?’ Jesus replied, ‘If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? As for you, follow Me.'” – John 21:20-22 (NLT)
I love the way in which John chose to close out his account of the Gospel story. He could’ve ended it with chapter 20 and no one would’ve thought anything of it. But instead, he chooses to end with the story of Peter’s restoration to the Lord. As he always does in his writings, John paints us this beautiful picture of what the Lord’s love and mercy looks like!
Though beautiful and amazing, this story of restoration is not what I want to focus on today. I want to focus on something that I believe was more than likely a constant battle for the disciples.
The natural tendency of mankind is to “one up” everyone else. We have to be on top, or have the same things as everyone else. Or we are simply just way too nosey for our own good, and we are constantly sticking our noses in everybody’s business except for our own. We get caught up in what someone else has, what they are doing, who they are dating, _________. There are so many things we could put in that blank, because at the end of the day, we all have faced (or currently are facing) our battles with comparison to others. And this is a dangerous game to play. It’s a black hole that is not easily escaped. And for some, they are so deep in it that there is no escaping it for them.
Specifically in the lives of believers, we tend to get caught up in comparing our lives to those who seem to be more spiritual than us, or they have a huge following, or they have a platform which they use for the Gospel, ________ (again, fill in the blank here). We are so concerned about what God is doing in someone else, or how He is using them, that we lose sight of and neglect what He is wanting to do and currently doing in our own lives. We become so focused on everyone who seems to have it going on. And Jesus is saying, “What is it to you, the things I am doing in other’s lives?”
He says this to Peter, and then He does something so powerful! Jesus makes it personal. He says, “As for YOU . . . ” And this is what I love about this walk of faith we do with the Lord! It’s not just an empty religion filled with rules and regulations. Rather, our journey with the Lord, it’s a personal relationship with Him. He meets us where we are, and takes us where He wants us to be. But all the while, He does this according to how He sees fit based on what He knows we can handle individually. He will absolutely call us into the deep where we are in over our heads, but He does it differently for every single person.
All throughout the Scriptures we see the dangers of comparison, and in a lot of instances it has led to death for some of the people involved (all the way back to Cain and Abel; Gen. 4). It is a dangerous game that the enemy uses so often to incapacitate many who would have otherwise been used to rock the world for the sake of the Kingdom. Comparison leads to jealousy, which leads to bitterness, which leads to a hard heart towards the Lord. This pattern results in a total turning away from God because we view Him as having failed to do His job, when in actuality it was our own actions which prevented Him from working in us.
I feel such a strong emphasis on this today, because I look around and see this everywhere. I myself have to be careful to not fall into this trap because it can be so easy. But thank the Lord for the gift of self-control which He has given us through His Spirit! This gift is so powerful! Self-control, in a nutshell, gives us the ability to not only change our actions, but it allows us to take control of our thought life. And believe me, as a professional over-thinker, controlling your thoughts is one of the most rewarding things you can ever learn to do.
So the questions with this, who/what have you been comparing yourself to that the Lord is saying to not worry about anymore? Who have you been looking at and seeing what looks to be a life of perfection, and the Lord is saying, “Why are you so concerned about their life?”
Learn from other people, yes absolutely! But when you become so focused on someone else’s life, that is an obsession that can only end in comparison.