In 1990 the best collegiate track athletes gathered for the NCAA Championships. As the runner leading in the men's 15OO meter finals approached the finish line, he looked to his left. Seeing he was still ahead with only a couple of meters to go, he raised his hands in celebration. Because he failed to lean forward to hit the tape, a runner on his right edged him out for the victory. Looking to his side cost him the national championship.

God has called you to "run in such a way that you will win the prize." (1 Cor. 9:24) Turning to your side to compare yourself to others can hinder you from winning God's prize. God's prize is worth far more than a national championship.

By asking yourself, "How do I measure up relative to others?," you invite bondage into your life. You are not entrapped by answering the question in the wrong way; you are entrapped by entertaining the question at all. When you walk through the "Door of Comparison," you will inevitably plunge into one of three pits.

The first pit is the pit of pride--for those who conclude that their superior talent means they are superior to others. They don't realize that their talents are simply gifts from God. "Who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if it were not a gift?" (1 Cor. 4:7)

Those who conclude they are inferior descend instead into the pit of discouragement. They feel hopeless. "I'll never be as good as _____________. Why even try?"

Others motivate themselves by competing with others. Striving to come out on top, they fall headlong into the pit of selfish ambition. Their motives are contaminated. God is not honored by excellence produced by the drive to be better than someone else.

Many people base their self-image on their judgment of how they stack up to others. They go through the Door of Comparison because they are deceived into thinking that how they compare to others really matters.

Freedom from these traps comes from realizing 1) God is the only judge that counts, and 2) God will not judge you by comparing you to others. He will judge you relative to what He's given you. "To whom much is given, much will be required." (Luke 12:48b) Greater talent brings greater responsibility.

Imagine standing at the Judgment Seat watching Christ judge the person in front of you. That person says, "Lord, you gave me two talents, and here, now I have four." The Lord responds, "Well done, good and faithful servant, you have been faithful in little, I will make you master over much. Enter into the joy of your master!"

You breathe a sigh of relief. When it is your turn, you say, "Lord, I have four talents too." The Lord responds, "Four!? But I gave you ten to start with!"

You should strive for excellence, not so you can be better (smarter, richer, stronger, etc.) than someone else, but so that God may be glorified. A Stephen Curtis Chapman song says, "God wants your best, not your 'better than.'" If you want to win eternal reward, "work heartily as unto the Lord and not unto men, knowing that from the Lord, you will receive the inheritance as your reward." (Col. 3:23-24)

Jamie Lash                     

(assisted by Brent Wallace)






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