Coming Out on Top in One-upmanship

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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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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.