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Sermon of the Week 
Monday, June 27 2022

Freedom from Comparisons”                                                                        Has anyone here been guilty of the sin of comparison? I’ll say that again so everyone can groan a little bit louder.... Has anyone been guilty of the sin of comparison?

One of my greatest obstacles in pursuing the ministry, was the failures and flaws of many of those who had been my mentors. As I watched their failures and their short comings, which contradicted many of the things which they had taught me, it caused me second thoughts. I started comparing my weaknesses to their failures. Let me be honest, it brought me fear, that I would not be able to measure up, or stand the tests, if someone as wise and capable as they were, could not, then how could I?

I was in danger of being so occupied with the failure of others, that I was not listening to what the Lord was telling me! I had to come to the place that whatever others had or had not done, it had nothing to do with my responsibility to follow Jesus for myself...

In our scripture today, Jesus is telling Peter what kind of death he would suffer for the cause of Christ. Peter looks around at John and it says.....                      

John 21:21 When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him(John)?” 22 Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain until I return, what is that to you? You follow Me!”

Or we might say “That’s none of your business, your focus should be on following me.” Jesus was looking for heroes, not busy bodies.

Don’t follow the sheep that follow the shepherd, follow the Shepherd. When the paramount motive of service is that we may get something, we miss what being a servant of the Lord is all about.                                                                               

It’s easy to get lost, when you don’t have good directions, so Jesus was giving them a map for servants to follow.                                                 On some of our trips, before Serie came along, I had Winnie.                                    We would drive through the night many times and she would sleep while I drove, and sometimes I would keep driving when I should have been sleeping. My “Winnie map finder” was asleep, so I would keep driving when I had no idea where I was going and get all of us totally lost. I didn’t intend to get lost, but my reference point was sleeping, so I was predestined to be lost without my “Map reader”. 

Most folks don’t intend to get so lost that they can’t find their way back, but they get distracted by a lot of other lost people, and they don’t hear the Lord telling them, “Mind your own business, and just focus on following me. Satan wants us to focus on other things....

While the pastor was giving a sermon one Sunday, he heard two teenage girls giggling and disturbing the people. He interrupted his sermon and announced sternly, "There are two of you here who have not heard a word I've said." Well that quieted them down for the rest of the service.

But when the service was over, he was greeting people at the front door. Twelve adults apologized for going to sleep in church, promising it would never happen again....

No matter where we are in life we can easily find ourselves looking around, doing the comparing thing, and thinking:

● Why don’t I have as much as they have?

● Why don’t I have the opportunities they have?

● I wish I had the talents they have.

● I wish I had the looks they have.

● I wish I had the family they have.                                                                                                    Comparison is such a “subtle sin” because it’s almost always

internal… and it’s one of Satan’s greatest tools against Christians

because it’s so easy for him to use it. He doesn’t have to really do

anything. He just has to convince us to take our eyes off of Christ and

simply look at something or someone else.

The Bible actually encourages us to be “imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises of God.” So, what we need to do is train ourselves how to compare properly.                                                    We need to lead our comparisons in the right direction — away from envy, pride, covetousness, and self-pity, and toward Christlike imitation and the fear of God.

This quote from author Jaquelle Crow perfectly sums up the kind of

comparison I want to talk about today:The more we compare ourselves, the more we need to compare ourselves. It’s an addiction. We’re on a quest for acceptance and joy, but we find ourselves paralyzed by the pressure to look, do, and be better than the people around us. Because of this, we are distracted from our purpose, our mission, and our need to pursue holiness.”

The big question we need to all ask ourselves, is “Who or what is going to define my worth”?

Comparison always forces us to see the world through the lens of 

“better than” or “worse than.”

So you look at someone and determine that you’re “better than”. And that kind of comparison is called PRIDE. 

And Pride transports you to the land of –ER:

In the land of -ER, my worth and value is defined by being

Thinn-er...Rich-er....Happi-er....Bett-er....Smart-er....Pretti-er...Healthi-er... Fast-er, Great-er, Nice-er, Young-er and on, and on, and on.....

Jesus called pride by the name Pharisee-ism...                                                   Luke 18 tells us the story of a Pharisee who stood up and prayed to himself: “God, I thank you that I am not the likeother men—robb-ers, evildo-ers, adulter-ers, and tax collect-ers.”The Pharisee determined that as long as he was more “-er” than the other “ers,” that made him

worthy and respectable and holy-er in God’s eyes.

Listen to this quote from Trevin Wax (this might offend some folks”       “If you feel like you have reason to boast because you’re still a

virgin, because you’re heterosexual, or because you’ve never

been divorced, then you need a fresh dose of God’s grace. As

long as you’re looking up to God for salvation, you cannot look

down on anyone else.”Think about it.....how can a Christian –someone who says, “I did NOTHING to deserve my salvation. Iwas lost, on my way to hell, completely unworthy. I contributed nothing to my salvation except SIN…yet Jesus stepped in and saved me” – how can we boast in anything other than Christ Jesus and Christ Jesus alone?

If you take your eyes off of Divine grace, mercy and favor, your heart will immediately steer you towards pride & Pharisee-ism.                                It is well said that you should never look down on anyone, unless you are helping them up!

In Romans 12:3, Paul warns Christians that we should “not think of ourselves more highly than we ought to think.”

Comparison will pull you over into jealousy and resentment. 

Jealousy says “I wish I had it.” Resentment says “I wish they didn’t

have it.” Have you ever had that friend who always haseverything go their way? And then, just maybe, for once, something didn’t go their way and internally you actually rejoiced a little bit? (“I knew it was coming, they didn’t deserve all they had anyway... Oh, the things I know about them, if only people knew what they were really like”...)                                                 And they call and you say, “Oh, I’m so sorry, that happened to you” but you’re not! (You’ve been waiting for it to happen all along)                        THAT’S MESSED UP!

Another cost of making comparisons, is INSECURITY, because what the sin of comparison does, is it makes us try to find an external conquest to satisfy an internal longing.

There is no external answer to your internal spiritual need.

External validation from someone or something can never fill

an internal void. Augustine used to say, “Our hearts are restless,

until they find rest in Christ.”The happiest, people in the world, are folks that don’t try to pretend to be anyone other than who God wants them to be.

They’ve discovered the secret that it’s hard to be distracted with

comparisons when you’re captivated by your calling.

In the gospel of John, Jesus’ first and last words to the disciples were

simple: “Follow me.”.... “Follow me”. Or, “be more and more like me.” 

One of my favorite verses in all of Scripture is Hebrews 12:1-2, “Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on

Jesus…”

Peter’s calling – which is also our universal calling – is to keep our

eyes on Jesus and run the race marked out for us.                                                  You will never see an Olympic runner looking all around, checking out the crowd!

No! They keep their eyes on the prize – they’re fixed on the finish line – and they stay in their lane!

Tap your neighbor and say, “Stay in your lane!”

Don’t worry about what someone else is doing in their lane.

God has marked out your lane, so keep your eyes focused and

follow him to the finish line.... don’t get distracted.

A minister bought a lawn mower from Gary who was having a neighborhood yard sale, but he returned it a few days later, complaining that it wouldn’t run. “Oh, It’ll run,” said Gary. “But you have to curse at it to get it started.” The minister was shocked. “I have not uttered a curse word in 30 years.” “Well, sir, Just keep pulling on the starter rope long enough —and it will all come back to you.” (that minister refused to leave his lane or his calling and purpose)

What is it to you that “Betty All That” can manage 5 kids while keeping her house clean, and afford Starbucks every day, and still manage to read a book a week? Stay in your lane and follow Jesus.

What’s that to you that “Bobby Better Than You”, doesn’t even have to study and he still aces the test while you study your butt off and barely

pass? Stay in your lane & follow Jesus.

What’s that to you if Marvelous Mark has a big house, nice car, a gorgeous wife, 2.5 kids, a golden retriever and a high poweredjob? What’s that to you? Stay in your lane & follow Jesus.                                                                                Lord, some people have more talent than I do. “What is that to you? You follow me!”

Lord, look at how she treated me. “What is that to you? You follow me!”

What’s that to you that he/she/or they, can have/ or do/ or possess

whatever? Stay in your lane & follow me.

If you think you need Jesus PLUS something/ or someone else that’s in

another lane in order to be happy or satisfied, or have worth or value, then you’ve never truly met the Jesus of the Bible. 

The beauty of the gospel is that even without all the stuff, without someone else’s talents or their approval, their things, their good looks, their money, you are still loved unconditionally by God and he has marked out a lane for you that no one else can fill.

Mark 8:36 “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? 37 Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul”?

When folks fall, they don’t need pity, they need perspective. When we step over into Pharisee-ism, it’s our perspective that needs adjusting. 

For some folks, their lane will take them to the mission field and they’ll see many people come to know Jesus…for others it will be to pour into your neighbor or your co-worker for years and years, even when you don’t see any sign of God moving in their life. But God gets the glory in both cases.

For some your lane will be to raise your kids in the admonition of the Lord, day-in and day-out… for someone else it will be to live your life never having kids even though you may have desiredthem, but you glorified God in other ways.

For some, your lane will be to make lots of money and be successful in the business world… and for others it will be to exude the joy found in Christ even when you don’t have many worldly possessions.And in all of these various callings and outcomes, we can encourage one another, pray for one another, and rejoice in each other’s uniqueness...

Oswald Chambers wrote “The way we continually talk about ourown inabilities is an insult to our Creator. To complain over our incompetence is to accuse God falsely of having overlooked us.” Here’s what I know: If you are somewhere, God has called you there.

Wherever you are, at any given moment, God has sovereignly

appointed you to be there and has something specific for you to do.

God does not waste anything…and he most certainly will not waste

your life. Keep your perspective on track...                                                           Don’t be like the little boy...who was heading to McDonald's with the family, when they came up to a car accident. Usually when they saw something terrible like that, they said a prayer for whoever might be hurt, so the dad pointed and said to his son, "We should pray for those folks. From the back seat he heard his son’s earnest voice: "Dear God, please don't let those cars block the entrance to McDonald's." Don’t let McDonalds, become more important than the needs around you.

Once you put your faith in Jesus, you’re not a “just” …

You’re not just a teacher…you’re God’s representative in the

Classroom.

You’re not just a student…you’re God’s representative at your

School or university so they can see what Jesus looks like when he

studies hard and shows up for class.

You’re not just a nurse…you’re God’s representative in the

medical field and you’re what it looks like when Jesus cares for

someone who is hurting.

You’re not just stay at home mom… you’re God’s representative in your home so your kids can see how Jesus will never stop loving them, will be patient with them, will always be faithful to them, will never give up on them, and will always be there to put band-aids on scraped knees and

wipe tears away.Who or what is going to determine your value and worth?

If you’re going to compare, then compare with this....

repeat these statements with me and let them wash over your soul. Let’s repeat this declaration together...In Christ…

I am chosen – 1 Thess 1:4

I am changed – 2 Cor 3:18

I am a new creation – 2 Cor 5:7

I am forgiven – Eph 1:7

I am blessed – Gal 3:9

I am victorious – Rev 12:11I am set free – John 8:31

I am healed– 1 Peter 2:24

I am free from condemnation – Rom 8:1

I am more than a conqueror – Rom 8:37

I am dead to sin – Rom 6:2

I am alive with Christ – Eph 2:5

I am accepted in Him – Eph 1:6

I am complete in Him – Eph 2:5Only when my validation is from Christ and not anything or anyone else, will I be able to stop searching and comparing, and be wholly satisfied. Walking in obedience to Jesus is the end of my searching. I know that in Christ, I find my worth and true value and He is enough for me. 

Lord, come take your place as my new reference point. I accept that who you designed me to be, contains my purpose and my calling. I accept my uniqueness and ask that I might glorify you by who I am. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, and completes me, in Jesus name. 

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