When Fruit Grows, Comparisons Don’t

CT.3-1
Photo and artwork belong to ComparisonTrap.org

This is the continuation of an earlier post about a Bible study in which I’m facilitating and participating.


The Comparison Trap:  Week Three, Day One… Some of my reminders and my takeaways from the daily devotional include:

Our study group came back together for our weekly gathering at the end of Week 2 and kicked off Week 3 with Andy Stanley’s teaching on the parable of the talents from Matthew 25. He asked us to consider ourself as a “two-bagger” in relation to the parable and our study in the Comparison Trap, noting that there will always be some who have more and some who have less.

His main point was that, in the end, we will only be asked to give an account for what we’ve been given. The Lord will not compare us to one another or compare our gifts to the gifts given to others, but He will look at what gifts He has given to us and how we have impacted the Kingdom with these gifts.

Andy’s other point in relation to what we’ve been given is that our dissatisfaction says more about how we feel about God than it does about the person who has more or less than we do. He said, “The root of our envy is that God owes us,” and that He’s short-changed us. That’s a big thought to ponder.

That particular concept is such a sharp contrast to the Scripture verse Sandra shares with us in Day One of Week 3, where we’re reminded of how He has not short-changed us:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace,
patience, kindness, goodness,
faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
Against such things there is no law.
~ Galatians 5:22-23

I was recently asked to testify at the criminal sentencing of someone I’ve known for most of my life. In part of my testimony, I shared some of the changes I’d seen in both of us over the years. I was able to compare my life and my relationship with this person from many years ago to the relationship we had come to have, and I used the fruit of the spirit as a part of the reason for the changes and growth I’d seen. It was only because of a willingness to yield to the Spirit that the growth had happened for each of us.

It’s amazing what God can do in our lives when we’re willing to allow Him to do His work in us and through us.

I also remember very early in my personal walk with the Lord when a discussion about the fruit of the spirit took place in my adult Sunday School class. I distinctly recall feeling as though I had “control” over love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness and faithfulness, but that I was still lacking a bit in patience and gentleness. I also knew, at that time, that I had a looooong way to go in developing self-control. I’ve come a long way (a few years ago I shared some of that in another writing).

What I didn’t realize in those early Sunday School days, but I do realize now, is that the fruit is singular, not plural. There are nine components to the fruit of the spirit, but not nine characteristics to be accomplished and achieved separately like a list to check off or to compare on a chart.

When we truly are willing to yield and go where we’re led by the Spirit, we will develop His personality and His characteristics all together. I recall seasons of my life where it seemed I struggle to “accomplish” having patience, gentleness and self-control, but it was only because I was not willing to submit these parts of my character to His. It’s good to know He doesn’t give up on us!

When we find ourselves wanting to be a 10-bagger or lifting our chin in pride at the one-bagger, we can recognize how we’ve fallen into the comparison trap. But through our verse and through our reading, Sandra reminds us that God has already richly equipped us with all the very incredible gifts we need to escape this trap.

Somewhere within us, we have a Spirit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, giving us the ability to take captive the thoughts of comparison. When we do, we grow.


 

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