Comparison Shopping

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You gotta love the new trend in internet shopping. I mean the one where you go to a website that helps you find the best deal on planet tickets, hotel rooms, or just about anything else you might want to buy. That’s where comparison is a good thing.

But I’ve found myself using comparison in a way that’s not so good. As in when I compare myself to some one else. I see someone who’s found true love and I wonder why I haven’t. I see someone who’s found a career that’s a perfect fit and who loves going to work every day and I wonder when that will happen for me.

I read somewhere that comparison is the thief of joy and contentment. Comparison either leads to pride when you think you’ve got something that the guy next to you doesn’t, or envy when the guy next to you has something that you don’t.

Comparison is always misleading because you never know the whole story. Appearances can be so very misleading. That man or woman you’re comparing yourself with may be happy in that one area, but struggling in another area that you don’t know about. He or she may actually envy you for something you have that he or she doesn’t.

If you have to compare yourself, compare yourself with where you used to be. Remember where you were and see where you are now. Look how far God has brought you. Look at what you’ve already overcome.

Rejoice for those who have what you don’t. Root for them and keep your eyes where they belong. And that’s on Jesus. He didn’t create you to live someone else’s life or be who he created them to be. He created you to live the life he custom-made only for you.

Your path is your own and no one else’s. Your timetable is your’s alone. You get where you need to be, not when everybody else does, but when in God’s perfect timing. Not a moment sooner and not a moment later.

Blessed are the merciful

“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy” (Matthew 5:7)

In the Bible, grace and mercy are many times used together. I’ve heard it put this way that grace is getting what you don’t deserve, and mercy is not getting what you do deserve. Mercy is withholding the right to revenge and giving grace instead. One of God’s characteristics is that He is merciful. If anyone had the right to exact judgment on what we’ve done wrong and how we’ve screwed up and when we’ve outright rebelled against Him, it’s God. But He in HIs grace gives us what we don’t deserve– forgiveness– and in His mercy withholds from us what we do deserve– everlasting punishment in hell.

To be merciful is to be like God. To forgive, even when forgiveness is not sought, is to be like God. Mercy is loving the unloveable. It’s easy to love someone who loves you back, but God calls us to love those who are so caught up in and trapped by fear and addictions that they are unable to love us back.

I like the Message version. It says, “You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for.”

If you show mercy, you get mercy. I also like to think that one of the characteristics of those who have experienced God’s grace and mercy is that they live out that grace and mercy toward others. You forgive much because you have been forgiven much. You don’t worry about the $100 worth of wrong someone did to you when God just forgave the $1 million worth of wrong you did against Him.

Brennan Manning says it best: “Our encounter with Mercy profoundly affects our interaction with others . . . . We look beyond appearances, beneath surfaces, to recognize others as companions in woundedness. Human flesh is heir to the assaults, within and without, of negative, judgmental thoughts, but we will not consent to them because God is merciful to us. We will not allow these attacks to lead us into the sins of self-preoccupation and self-defense. Swimming in the merciful love of Christ, we are free to laugh at the tendency to assume spiritual superiority– in ourselves. We are free to extend to others the mercy we have received.”

As always, I believe. Help my unbelief.