Coming Out on Top in One-upmanship

CT.3-2
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.


 

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Can I Fathom How to Measure the Immeasurable?

CT.2-7
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.

 


 

 

 

 

Finding Hope in the New Year’s Resolution Resolution

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I don’t know about you, but I am looking at my calendar in utter amazement. Twenty-thirteen has just flown by, and we are almost ready to cross over into 2014.

Many of you are hard at work creating yet another list you’ll check twice as you are resolving to be less naughty and to be more nice — at least to yourself.

We create resolution lists about exercising more, eating less, cleaning out our inbox, making more time for others, etc., etc., etc., and, for at least a month, we do a pretty good job at what we’ve resolved.

Do you still have your 2013 list?
How did you do?
Why doesn’t it last? Only YOU can answer that question about your own resolutions!
You made them, so why didn’t you stick with them?

I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions. I used to, but many years ago, I resolved not to make resolutions.

I’d make good ones with good intentions where the results would be good for me and good for others around me. Even with the simplicity of them, I’d still fail at some point during the year. I got tired of failing at keeping them. The well-intentioned list became a list of glaring failures. I had enough of those in my life without adding to them each year, so I quit making resolutions for New Year’s.

So…now that you think I have a party-pooper attitude toward resolution making, are you wondering what I do actually do?

It’s really no big deal.
I still kiss my husband at the stroke of midnight.
I still raise a glass of whatever to ring in the new year.
I still resolve that the next year will be different.
I just don’t make a list.

For me, resolving not to make resolutions isn’t about refusing to change. A list doesn’t create change.

Change happens when the heart, the head and the Spirit connect. All of them.

Thing is…that rarely happens because a list has been written. And, if it does, the results are short-lived and are rarely long-lasting.

What has worked for me is listening to the Spirit within me leading me toward a change. (You’ll know it’s Him, because it’ll/He’ll keep showing up.) I then will pray about it — sometimes for quite a long time. Sometimes those prayers are whiney ones (because I don’t like change), sometimes they are “You need to help me” ones, and sometimes they are “if this is Your will” ones. Sometimes the head gets in gear before the heart; sometimes the heart has to convince the head.

When the Spirit leads and then the head and heart follow, amazing changes happen. Really amazing changes.

Isn’t that what we’re all really looking for?

My other issue with New Year’s Resolutions is with the timing. I see no reason to make changes on January 1st just because the calendar year is a new one. If change needs to happen — or if we are being led to change — it won’t just happen on January 1st. It might be January 21st, it might be March 2nd, it might be August 5th, or it might even be November 19th.

It’s my preference to allow the Spirit to lead me instead of the Gregorian calendar. I’ve just found more success that way. We need to be prepared to get on-board and change when change calls.

Now…some of you know me, and you know that over the last few years, I have named my years. This officially started for me in 2012.

In 2011, I went through some pretty terrible emotional tribulations. My world was turned upside-down in many ways through the choices of a few others close to me. Changes in faith, trust, relationships, truths, perspectives and hopes were on a rollercoaster ride, but when it all happened, I resolved — right away — to walk in more faith. I didn’t consciously choose to name 2011, but looking back, if I had named it, it would have been the Year of Faith.

The resolution get through 2011 walking in more faith led to me naming 2012 the Year of Obedience. The faith journey I clung to in 2011 brought to light a need for me to learn to be obedient to the Lord. I think obedience is an ever-learning, ever-growing and ever-needed trait, but 2012 was fruitful for me in that area, and many blessings were realized as I worked on my walk with Him.

Through obedience, hope blossomed. So when 2013 rolled around, I felt led to name it the Year of Hope. Most of us think of hope in terms of a wondering hope, but this was an expectant and trusting hope built on my walk with the Lord. In the Year of Obedience, I began to see glimmers of hopes I had desired, prayed for and yearned for become realities so much greater than what I had asked or “wonderingly hoped for.” I wondered if it were possible to surrender my wondering hopes to Him to see what He might be able to do with them … and He awed me beyond my belief. Many of my wondering hopes became expectant hopes in 2013 as I began to trust in His hand, His blessings and in His will for my life.

And so, here we are, ready to cross over into 2014.

Faith, Obedience and Hope have been good years, but there is still so much more of a work He needs to do in me. I feel the Spirit leading me to trust more. In my readings, my quiet time, my prayers, my praises, my celebrations, my obedience, my hope, and in my faith, trust keeps coming forward. So, I have resolved to name 2014 the Year of Trust, and to work on walking in His will in this area of my life.

His promises and His blessings are many. I know that, believe that and do trust in that when I read His Word. My expectant hope for 2014 is to learn to trust Him on a new level…one well beyond words.

However you resolve to handle your resolutions for the new year, may you find what He has planned for you…not just what you are looking for.

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