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An Unwise Way

Don't Compare!

AN UNWISE COMPARISON

by Keith Hunt


     Paul, in talking about some false accusers, said this about
them, they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing
themselves among themselves, ARE NOT WISE" (2 Cor.10:12 emphasis
mine).
     Paul knew it was an unwise mental exercise for people to
compare themselves with other human beings. He knew that doing so
would only result in either discouragement, despondency, gloom,
depression, OR self-conceit, proudness, and vanity. Either way -
both extremes of the emotional roller-coaster, are not what God
wants for you.
     There are many reasons why you should NOT compare yourself
with others. Let's look at some of them.
     Turn to Luke 19 and read verses 11 to 27. This is the
parable of the POUNDS or if you like the DOLLARS. The nobleman
had ten servants, and to each he gave, say, a hundred dollar
bill. He told them to use it till he should return from his
journey he was about to undertake. Those servants all knew their
employer would expect them to increase the one hundred dollars
they each had, to 200, or 300, or 400 dollars or more. Most of
them did do so. Some used the $100 to gain $1,000 while others
could only gain maybe an additional $100 - making two hundred
dollars altogether. But the fact is the nobleman was PLEASED with
those that used the $100 to gain more. They did do something with
what they had been given.
     Notice, all ten of them were given the SAME amount. They all
started off pretty well equal, but they did not all finish equal,
they did not all have the same amount of money at the end.

     This tells us that many persons in this world, may start out
in life at about the same level. The same basic type of parental
upbringing, education, mental ability, and inherited talents. But
owing to other factors in life - good or bad influences, good or
bad "luck" as we often call it, being in the right place at the
right time, or wrong place at the wrong time, and possible
accidents or sicknesses, we do not all increase at the same rate.
     Where we stood level with some at the start, we finish
increasing, some one fold, some five fold, and some ten fold.
I think of my high school graduation class. Some of those fellows
were about equal to me in education, home life and talents. Some
went on to be very successful in business and making a lot more
money than I have ever made. I heard how some entered their
father's business and took off like a "house on fire", others got
good breaks - were in the right spot at the right time, and made
it "big" as the world counts big. Then I heard of some in my
class of "58" who were about equal with the rest, that married
and were doing okay in the work force, then they found themselves
with a badly crippled child. From then on out it was hard to make
ends meet financially, not to count the emotional stress.
     You can probably think about people you finished high school
with, who were mentally, emotionally, and socially, equal with
others, but through accidents or disease, have only increased
their $100 to $150, while others are above the ten fold increase.
Do you begin to see why Paul was inspired to say it was UNwise to
compare ourselves among ourselves?

VARIOUS ABILITIES

     Jesus gave another parable about the talents. You can find
it in Matthew 25 beginning with verse 14. Here we see the
teaching that God gives to His servants (the humans He created)
various quantities of gifts and talents. We not only do not all
have the SAME abilities and talents, we do not all have the same
number of talents.
     Think back again to your school days(if your out of school),
and you will recall the kids who had - it seemed to you - ALL the
talents, they were good at just about everything - art, music,
sports, academics, and every other thing going. Oh, maybe there
was not too many of those type of school buddies, but every
school has a few. There were you'll remember, lots - the majority
- with many differing abilities and talents. Some were real
exceptional at academics, others were outstanding at basketball,
or running, or singing, or acting. There was somebody talented
for everything that was needed for school life. But alas, some
were "not very well blessed" we said. They didn't seem to have
hardly any talents. They weren't too bright at academic work,
couldn't play sports, or a musical instrument, couldn't sing. It
was very difficult to find any noticeable ability in their life.
     Most of our natural talents are inherited from our parents.
Our unique abilities of one sort or another are determined in our
genes at conception. It is possible for us to learn certain
skills if the desire is strong enough. I teach music, and I know
from years of teaching to hundreds of students that if someone
really wants to learn to play a musical instrument, and is
physically and mentally, what we call "normal," they can learn to
play. No natural talent is needed. By following my instruction
and with regular practice a musical instrument can be mastered.
Those without a natural "music talent" can learn to play an
instrument, but they may never be a concert performer. They can
learn to play good enough for their own pleasure and those of
their close friends. I've seen this take place time and time
again over the years I've been teaching.
     Then there are various abilities we have that are just plain
God given. We have them or we do not have them. We can not learn
them or develop them, no matter how hard we might try. I can
yodel, it's just there. I can not teach others to do it - I
wouldn't know where to begin. Sure I heard someone else yodel
first, then found I could do it. Other friends of mine can not
come close to doing any yodels, no matter how hard they try - it
just isn't "in them" to perform such things with their throat.

     God gives natural talents to each of us as He wills. And He
gives as many talents as He sees fit to any one individual. Some
have many natural abilities, others less, and some have few.
     This fact is the first thing we should glean from the
parable of the man who handed out the talents to his servants. We
notice also from this parable of the talents the same as we
noticed from the parable of the pounds - the master(God) of the
servants(the children of God) expects that whatever He gives to
others they will in turn use those gifts so more increase will
forthcome on the day of reckoning. No matter who we are - where
we are - and what we have - everyone of us can use our natural
proclivities, abilities, talents, material goods etc. to serve
and benefit mankind. From those that the world may consider to be
the lowliest to the ones it recognizes as the greatest, each have
something that God has given to use for the benefit of themselves
and others. But God gives as He wills. All things are made by
Him, all things belong to Him. He gives and He takes away. You
have what you have because the Lord has given it to you, and He
can give more to you, or He can take away from you what you have.
It does not make any difference as to your color, sex, age,
education, social background - you have something that you can
use to produce an increase.
     You should not look upon what others have and compare
yourself with them, for that is folly and unwise. You are you -
they are they. You were created from a distinctively unique egg
and sperm which contain the genetic blue-print that makes you
different than any other human person who has ever lived. There
are in each of us various abilities and talents that we must use
to the glory of God and fellow man.

IN THE CONTEXT OF THE CHURCH

     At what age do you enter the Church? At 18, or maybe 28, or
48, how about 78? Whatever the age is that you are called to
become a begotten child of God, you enter the Church with
everything you are - past and present - except your SINS, they
have been washed away in the blood of the Lamb, the moment you
went under the water in baptism. But your natural abilities, your
past education, your work experiences, your parental upbringing,
and all that has made you, YOU, does not change. You may enter
the body of Christ as a window cleaner with very little formal
education, possibly from a broken home - raised by a single
parent. Maybe you had brothers and sisters to help look after,
and none of you ever had the so called "nice things" of life.
it could be you entered the Church with a serious chronic
sickness that developed when you were just a small child. The
disease was such that you never had a chance to perform in any
sporting activities through your school years. Maybe the sickness
effected the "motor" part of your body and you were not able to
develop your writing and speaking skills as you would have
wished. You were able to find gainful employment as an adult, but
your disability did hinder you from those big promotions you
would have liked.
     Perhaps you found yourself entering the Church as a
housewife with one or three or five children to raise and care
for. Maybe you were married at 16 or 17 - never finished High
School, or studied for that "career' like other girls you knew.
Soon you had a child, then another, and then a third and forth.
You found yourself in your twenties never having experienced the
world as other young ladies around you had done. Possibly you
wondered if you had ANY kind of talent or abilities other than
looking after children. It seemed you had none, for you had never
had the time to search them out and use them.

     It could be you were one of the "old folks" who came into
the Church. Just about everyone seemed younger than you. All was
past in your life. Your children now had children. You had
retired from your life long work many years ago, and were now on
the homeward stretch to the finishing line. All of your
successes, and great abilities you once demonstrated to the word
were now far behind. You were, to the younger ones, that "nice"
old person with the silver hair and wrinkled skin.

     But on the other hand, you may have come into the Church of
God when you were a strong young man or woman. You were confident
towards life, knew your talents and strengths, the world was at
your feet and you were going to "take it by storm" and make
something of yourself.
     You may have been the successful business person that was
recently baptized. My what impressive credentials you could pull
out of your briefcase. Fine middle or upper income, lovely home
and car, well to do parents who provided you with the best of
education and University training that gave you the edge over
many in the church you attended.
     Or perhaps you were the "talented one" in the church. You
could speak well, sing and play a musical instrument, hold your
own with anyone in the group when it came to sporting activities,
and besides all that, you were mentally bright and doing great at
your job.

     Yes we all enter the Church of God at different levels of
the mental, education, social, talent, emotional, rung of the
ladder. We may be called into the spiritual body of Christ when
we are on the fifth rung of this ladder, or the second rung, or
the seventh, or the ninth, or the twelfth, or even the top rung.
     What rung of the world ladder we are on at the time of our
calling, depends on MANY factors. Our parental upbringing and
education may have been the "pits." The next guy sitting by us in
services may have had the very best the word could offer in those
two areas of life. It would be foolish and unwise to compare
yourself with that person. If you had everything "go right" for
you in life, everything you touched turned to gold, no accidents
or sicknesses, but that other person in services .... well he/she
was always having troubles of one kind or another - getting laid
off from work, the company going out of business, loosing a home
or car for no fault of their own, loosing a loved one because of
a drunk driver, and on and on. It would be folly and unwise for
you to compare yourself with this unfortunate individual.

     None of us should compare ourselves among ourselves for we
can all find ourselves at different stages of our lives on
different rungs of life's ladder. We were all given different
talents through the genes of our parents. We all come through a
distinctive life journey, for however long that journey is up to
the time we enter the family of God.
     The man in speech club who has never been able to give a
good speech(on the technical and mechanical side of speech
giving) in the five years he's been in the club, may never EVER
be able to be a "public speaker" no matter how long he works at
it - it's just not in him. But he may be the best car mechanic
this side of the state line. This man over here may not know one
end of a car from the other, but he makes a great tenor singer in
the choir. That lady over there may not be the world's best cook
but can she ever sew, you bet she can! That old lady with the
white hair, she can not sing, can not sew, can not do a lot of
things, but boy can she ever cook. The fellow over there with the
not so best clothing, very little formal education, having a hard
time reading anything other than his Bible, the one who doesn't
know the difference between a baseball bat and an ice hockey
stick, the fellow who does not own a new car or expensive house,
yes this man who seems to have little going for him, well that
man just happens to be the best respected farmer in the whole
county - he's got not only two green thumbs, but eight green
fingers as well.
     We are not all called to be doctors or lawyers or dentists.
We are not all called to be firemen or airplane pilots. We are
not all called to be secretaries or bankers or bakers or
candlestick makers.
     If you are a skilled plumber you would not usually compare
yourself against a carpenter. A seamstress does not compare
herself against a real estate lady. But often within the church
of Jesus Christ, we of different backgrounds and talents, DO
COMPARE ourselves among OURSELVES.

     Brethren, this is folly and UNWISE!

     Because of your lack of natural talent and ability, you may
NEVER be the choir director in your church. Only those who have
some kind of ability towards this expertise will be granted the
job of leading a choir or band. I have known of cases where the
person doing the directing knew they only had a small amount of
ability for the job, but they volunteered to give it their best
shot, until a more qualified and talented choir director came
into the church, then they were willing to graciously step down,
for the betterment of the whole. That is real Christianity in
humble service, doing what the scriptures say and not esteeming
themselves better than they should, not looking upon their own
only, but also the things of others (Phil.2:2-4). Then I have
know where there were two or three equally qualified persons to
direct the choir or band, and they took turns - one for a year,
another for a year, and so on.
     Not everyone will be good at being the church's librarian if
your group undertakes to have a library. Some will be naturally
better than the rest at such a responsibility.
     Leading the song service will not be for all. There may be
one or more who have the God given talent to do this important
job. Others should not expect to get this responsibility when
they know they are not so gifted, and they should not compare
themselves with those that are gifted in this area of the
function of the church.

     If you can not play the piano or the organ you should not
expect to be asked to play those instruments for the song
service. And you should not compare yourself with those who do
have the ability to play the piano.
     Not all of us can be the minister/elders/overseer. If we
were all ministers where would be the members and saints? We can
not all be deacons or deaconesses or else where would be the ones
such people serve?
     The body of Christ is made up of many parts - each part
different in function with varying degrees of abilities, but all
parts are necessary for the whole body to be strong and healthy.

     All this truth I have given you is not new truth but old
truth, spoken by the apostle Paul nearly two thousand years ago
to the church at Corinth:

     "For just as the body is a unity and yet has many parts, and
     all the parts, though many, form only) one body, so it is
     with Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed One. For by (means of
     the personal agency of) one (Holy) Spirit we were all,
     whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free, baptized (and by
     baptism united together) into one body, and all made to
     drink of one (Holy) Spirit. For the body does not consist of
     one limb or organ but of many. If the foot should say,
     Because I am not the hand, I do not belong to the body,
     would be therefore not(a part) of the body? If the ear
     should say, Because I am not the eye, I do not belong to the
     body, would it be therefore not(a part) of the body? If the
     whole body were an eye, where(would be the sense of)
     hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where(would be the
     sense of) smell?
     But as it is, God has placed and arranged the limbs and
     organs in the body, each(particular one) of them, just as He
     wishes and saw fit and with the best adaptation. But if(the
     whole) were all a single organ, where would the body be? And
     now there are (certainly) many limbs and organs, but a
     single body. And the eye is not able to say to the hand, I
     have no need of you, nor again the head to the feet, I
     have no need of you. But instead, there is (absolute)
     necessity for the parts of the body that are considered the
     more weak.
     And those (parts) of the body which we consider rather
     ignoble are (the very parts) which we invest with additional
     honor, and our unseemly parts and those unsuitable for
     exposure are treated with seemliness(modesty and decorum),
     which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has
     so adjusted(mingled, harmonized and subtly proportioned the
     parts of the whole) body, giving the greater honor and
     richer endowment to the inferior parts which lack (apparent
     importance).
     So that there is no division or discord or lack of
     adaptation (of the parts of the body to each other), but the
     members all alike have a mutual interest in and care for one
     another. And if one member suffers, all the parts (share)
     the suffering, if one member is honored, all the members
     (share in) the enjoyment of it.
     Now you (collectively) are Christ's body and (individually)
     you are members of it, each part SEVERALLY and DISTINCT-
     each with its own place and function" (1 Cor.12:12-27
     Amplified Bible, emphasis mine).

YOUR WORK = YOUR REWARD

     Some of the last recorded words of Jesus are found in
Revelation 22 and verse 12. The words are these, "And, behold, I
come quickly, and my REWARD is with me, to give every man
ACCORDING AS HIS WORK SHALL BE."
     What you DO with what you have been given to do with, will
determine what reward you receive at Christ's return.
     Because you were a minister in the Church of God, does not
automatically mean your reward in the Kingdom will be greater
than the "little old white haired lady" who sat in services week
after week, somewhat quite and unpretentious. Because you were a
deacon or deaconess in the church, does not instinctively mean
you will have a greater reward from Jesus than that young lady
who is working hard at raising those little children of hers.
Being song leader does not come with a guarantee that you will
have a greater reward in Eternity than being choir director, or
visa versa. Being in charge of the library or cassette tapes or
the P.A. system does not automatically assure you of a greater
reward, above those you are serving.

     Let me go back to the "rungs of the ladder" analogy. Someone
comes into the Church at about rung 8 - half way we'll say up our
ladder of the world scale (as the society may gauge progress).
They had an average upbringing - average education, and some
talents they had made use of to better themselves in the adult
world. After baptism they set about to overcome, and apply
themselves, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to be a good
Christian. They already had a fair amount "going for them" as we
would say, so they increased to rung 12 on the ladder. A pretty
good increase - about a 50% increase from where they started.
Their reward will be according to their work.
     Another person enters the family of God who is at about rung
14 on our 16 rung ladder. I mean they were the "tops" as far as
this world would say. They had great parents who raised them near
perfectly, had the best in education, blessed with many
abilities and talents, very successful in the business world, and
to top this all off, they had a model marriage and children. They
start their walk along the Christian road, but with all their
talents and physical wealth, they really did not do much in a
practical way. Never gave to the poor, or widows, or orphans.
They never helped someone in need get to the Feast of
Tabernacles. They never offered to give someone a ride to
services who had no car. Never had anyone over to their home for
a meal and fellowship, or went to see a sick brother or sister in
the hospital. Oh, they were trim and proper in services, never
got into arguments, or gossip about anyone - kept their children
well behaved, but that was how they were from the first day they
entered the church, and that's how they were 10 years later. It
was hard for anyone to see any changes or any growth in them.
Maybe they had gone from rung 14 up to rung 15. They had LOTS to
work with - God had given them plenty, but they increased very
little. They didn't do very much with what they had to do with.
Their reward from Jesus will be small.

     For those who come into the Church on whatever rung of the
ladder and DO NOTHING AT ALL, well Jesus said that even that
which they thought they had shall be taken away, and that
unprofitable servant will be cast out into outer darkness (Luke
19:26; 17:10, Mat.25:14-30).

     Then there was..... well you know their names. They were
from the "other side of the tracks" - way the other side. It
seemed they only had one set of clothes, because for the longest
time when they first began to attend services, they wore the same
clothes week after week. You found out their parents were
uneducated and somewhat a bit of the "hillbilly" type. They
themselves had only a grade 4 education, couldn't talk very well,
words were slurred and mumbled. You knew they still smoked
because of the color of their teeth and smell of their breath.
You could not believe the car they drove could make it one block,
never mind the 50 or so miles they had to travel to get to
services. It was a sure sign to you that God still was performing
miracles even today.
     Apart from being able to thunder out a good "country sang"
and pick a five string banjo, there just was not much else you
could find they had going for themselves.
     On our ladder scale, the world would probably put them on
rung 3-4.
     But what a difference a few years can make. Someone entering
the church three years later would have never known our people
from the hills had been so low on societies ladder. The smoking
habit had been overcome, and some good dental work had cleaned up
their teeth. Instead of smelling like the country swamp they were
now coming to services smelling like an English rose garden. By
going to night school they were up to a grade 8 education, and
their vocabulary and clarity of speech was equal to most in the
congregation. The old car was gone and a shiny new one took its
place, because of a better job and financial reward. They were
serious members of the choir and good assets in the pop band.
They still remained "kind" and "good hearted" as they were all
along, and could always be counted upon to serve in any way, when
called to do so.
     When all was taken into account, they had by the standards
of the world, climbed from about rung 4 to about rung 10 on our
sixteen rung ladder. They had increased OVER 100% and would ho
doubt continue to increase even more.
     They had little to start with, but what little they had they
put to work, and with God's Spirit and their own determination
and effort, they increased and INCREASED!
     Proportionally speaking, our people from "across the tracks"
increased MORE than those who started on rung 8 or rung 14. They
will receive the GREATER reward in the Kingdom.
     It's not what you have but what you do with what you have
been given that counts.

     It is UNWISE to compare ourselves with anyone else in the
Church(or in the world for that matter) because we are each
unique - each with a different background - each with different
abilities and talents, each coming from a different social,
emotional, and religious strata of our culture.

     It is a part of human nature to want to compare ourselves
with some one else. Do you want to compare yourself with someone?
Then you may - but not another flesh and blood human. Be not
unwise but wise - compare yourself with the heavenly Father and
His Son Christ Jesus.
     Ah, now you'll still have lots of rungs of the ladder to
climb.

                             .................


Written in 1991


 
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