When I’m Not Really Happy for You…

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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.


Where you have envy and selfish ambition,
there you find disorder and every evil practice.
~ James 3:16

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

In today’s devotional, Sandra mentions a book called, I’m Happy for You (Sort of…Not Really), by her friend Kay Wyma. Gosh, the title sums up so much of the comparison trap, doesn’t it?

We want to be happy for Heather’s pregnancy announcement, Laura and Jim’s vacation plans to Hawaii for their wedding anniversary, Morgan’s promotion at work, Rob’s big pay raise, Mark’s surprise trip for Jennifer, the news that Karen’s daughter got the lead in the play, the fantastic new home Scott and Kim are building…the names are different in your life, but you know these people. Celebrating with them without letting ourselves dip a toe into the waters of comparison can be tough.

Sandra reminds us that CHOOSING “to celebrate your friends’ good news (and it’s a choice) is the quickest, most powerful antidote to envy.

I’d really, really love to have my friends choose to deeply celebrate my blessings with me, and I am sure they’d really, really love to have me choose to celebrate with them. The envy and selfishness that creeps between our thoughts and our choice to celebrate out loud with others can put us on a path of disorder. 

Make the other choice…the one where we bless others with words which celebrate their lives with them.


 

Choosing Worry Over Trust

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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.


But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness,
and all these things will be given to you as well.
~ Matthew 6:33

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

My takeaway is short and sweet today:  When we worry, it’s often because we don’t trust God enough.

Someone once shared that concept with me, and it’s just stuck. If we’re seeking His Kingdom and His righteousness (the condition or state we’re in that is approved of and acceptable to God), then we will be in a place where worry won’t be necessary. If we’re seeking His Kingdom and His righteousness, we’ll know and trust that He’s got control over what I can’t control.

Sandra says “worry is a crutch for things we can’t control.”

Have you ever tried to walk with one crutch? It’s awkward. You feel lopsided.

When we worry, we aren’t trusting God to take care of the circumstances. Worry is lopsided. Worry is a crutch, and it makes life unbalanced and uneven.

Don’t worry.
Be trusting.


 

The Worthless Pursuit of More and More

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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.


Then he said to them, “Watch out!
Be on your guard against all kinds of greed;
a man’s life does not consist in the
abundance of his possessions.”
~ Luke 12:15

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

“We live in a world of accumulation,” begins Sandra.

We do. We crave abundance, and it’s almost scary how often we can catch ourselves thinking of more, more, more.

Sandra goes on to share the verses after the Scripture above. It’s a parable told by Jesus in Luke 12:16-21:

“The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest.   17 He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’  18 Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain.   19 And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’  20 But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?  21 This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.’”

There are a few things to note from this parable, outside of the obvious sense of greed and desire to have more:

  • Verse 16 tells us the man was rich and yielded an abundant harvest while he was rich. Apparently, God had blessed the man. Whether or not the man was a “good” man is irrelevant; God had still given him a gift in the form of abundance.
  • Verse 18 tells us what was said by the man. Do we read of him giving thanks?  Of acknowledging God for the abundance given to him?
  • Verse 19 tells us what the man desired from his abundance. Does this show his desire to live for God?  For others?  Or only for himself?
  • Verse 20 gives us some of the answers to these questions. God calls him a fool. Just in case you are wondering…fool basically means fool in the original language. God wasn’t impressed with what the man decided to do with the blessings God had allowed the man to accumulate.

Sandra’s devotional Challenge for Day Four was to mark some boxes designating some of our abundance.

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The boxes I checked in the Day Four Challenge

I’ve visited countries where having just ONE of these line items would be living luxuriously. Some of you have lived in or served in places like that, too. Even so, the trap of comparison keeps us wanting more, doesn’t it?

We’ve been given the blessings in our lives for a reason.

We need to work harder on appreciating those blessings and using them for His purposes, as God often says something different to us than what we are willing to say to ourselves. The richness, wealth and abundance of life does not have to equate to the amount of property, the dollars in our bank account, or the possessions we tend to hold valuable.

“The accumulation of more is a worthless pursuit if what you are accumulating isn’t put to good use for God.”

The material possessions we seek and acquire can’t ever fully satisfy us in comparison to an intimate relationship with God. When we’ve been blessed by Him, it’s imperative that we focus on Him and on how He would call us to use those blessings. Let’s not be a fool.


 

Coming Out on Top in One-upmanship

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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.


Let us not become conceited,
or provoke one another,
or be jealous of one another.
~ Galatians 5:26

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

We just finished talking about the fruit of the spirit in Galatians 5, and here, just a few verses later, we’re cautioned in reference to one-upmanship.

This is the really ugly part of the comparison trap.

“Well, at least my marriage isn’t like that…”
“I’m SO grateful my child didn’t turn out like hers.”
“My husband might have issues, but at least he didn’t do that.”
“I deserve the promotion over her, because I work harder.”

Pretty ugly, isn’t it?

“Coming out on top in comparison’s game can lead you to conceit, arrogance and pride,” says Sandra. She then reminds us that “God’s blessings are not supposed to come with strings of arrogance or guilt attached.”

We did just get finished reading an impactful devotion about the fruit of the Spirit yesterday, didn’t we? It might be time for a brief review already, because if you are anything like me, you may not have said some of those phrases above, but you’ve probably thought them (are you willing to admit it?).

In his commentary on Galatians, Dr. Tom Constable makes a suggestion:

“Rather than trying to remove all of our former sinful practices ourselves, we should cultivate the spiritual life, and the Holy Spirit will deal with them.”

He goes on to categorize the fruit of the spirit, defining the characteristics based on their word origins in the original Greek language like this:

Mental or God-ward qualities
“Love” (Gr. agape, self-sacrificing affection for others)
“Joy” (Gr. chara, deep-seated gladness regardless of circumstances)
“Peace” (Gr. eirene, inner quietness and repose regardless of circumstances)

Interpersonal or other-ward qualities 
“Patience” (Gr. makrothymia, forbearance even under provocation)
“Kindness” (Gr. chrestotes, benevolence and graciousness)
“Goodness” (Gr. agathosyne, constructive action reaching out to others)

General or self-ward qualities 
“Faithfulness” (Gr. pistis, reliability, trustworthiness)
“Gentleness” (Gr. praytes, acquiescence to authority and consideration of others)
“Self-control” (Gr. enkrateia, ability to master oneself)

When we read through these definitions of what a Spirit-filled life can look like, we don’t associate “ugly” with these words. 

Sandra goes on to remind us that the fruit of the spirit sounds like the exact opposite of the conceit and jealousy we’re warned about in today’s Scripture verse—just a few verses afterward. She says, “To steward God’s blessings well, we just need to display outwardly the qualities of the Spirit that already live inside us.”  

If you are a Christian, then ALL of these qualities do live within you.

Conceit, arrogance and pride also live within us, but when we’re willing to yield to the Spirit, He will steward His blessings very faithfully.


 

Can I Fathom How to Measure the Immeasurable?

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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.


Now to him who is able to do immeasurably
more than all we ask or imagine,

according to his power that is at work within us,
to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus
throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen.
~ Ephesians 3:20-21

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

What I read is that He can do “immeasurably more” than all we ask or imagine.

What is immeasurably more?
How does one quantify that?
What does that look like?

It’s beyond what we’re capable of fathoming, asking for or thinking, but how does that translate to my life? It’s really hard to know when it can’t be conceived.

And that BIG stuff He can do? … He accomplishes it “according to his power that is at work within us.” That’s the Holy Spirit.

God within us.
In me.
In you.
God, who is living, breathing, dwelling and working within us.

And when He does it?He gets the glory. And, he gets it for another amount of time that we can’t really quantify, either.

I really don’t know if I can fully understand how HUGE this concept is. It’s the idea that through His power, He can do anything and everything beyond what I can imagine, and that when He does, it will bring glory to Him for all of eternity future. And… He can use ME to accomplish that.

(That’s not arrogance speaking. It’s just me trying to fully realize what He’s saying in His Word. He’s saying the same thing about you.)

Why is it  that I bother looking to the left or to the right to compare myself with others? Why do I  allow myself to feel that I fall short of her?  Why does my  pride get in the way to think that I might just be a tad better than she is? Why do I  look left and right, when all I really need to do is look up?

Please don’t miss the enormity of this.

Sandra closes the devotional with, “…when God accomplishes more than we can dream, we can watch him get the glory.”

He can, and He will.
But we have to start looking up and stop looking around.