Jesus doesn’t want his disciples to compare themselves to other people.
When this happens in his presence, he criticizes it. The apostles argue frequently about which of them is the greatest—and Jesus consistently rebukes them (Matt 18:1-4, Mark 9:33-35, Luke 22:24-27).
When he tells stories, sometimes the characters get frustrated by comparisons to others. Jesus challenges the mindset that all people have to be exactly equal. Speaking for God, he says, “Friend, I am doing you no wrong…Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me?”(Matt 20:13, 15).
But his clearest challenge to the comparison mentality is Peter. After Jesus’ resurrection, he informs Peter that Peter will die a martyr’s death. Disappointed and frustrated, Peter turns to John and asks Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?”(John 21:21). Shouldn’t he have to die in the same way? “Jesus said to him, ‘If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!’”(John 21:22). It’s none of your business, Peter! If I want John to live forever, it doesn’t change what I’ve told you! Quit comparing!
Comparisons are dangerous because they lead either to jealousy and resentment (if I feel I’m not as good as someone else) or condescension (if I feel I’m better). There is no good outcome. Personally, I have found that both types of comparisons come out of my mouth as criticism—tearing down out of jealousy or tearing down to confirm my superiority.
So I offer a helpful tip to overcome comparisons: Sincerely praise the people you are tempted to criticize. What do they do well? Where do they excel? What do you like about them? Talk about it to them. Talk about them (in this positive way) to others. If comparison is necessary in such discussions, it can be positive. I want to be more like them!
Whom do you need to praise?
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Encouraging Christians to take discipleship seriously.