I never thought of myself as a very jealous person… but if I’m really honest… I can’t begin to count the amount of times that I have thought “that’s not fair”.
As a kid I would look at the G.I. Joe’s that my cousins had and compare them to my plastic army men and think “that’s not fair”. When I found out that my best friend had a later bed time than I did, I thought “that’s not fair”.
Then as I got older…
- Through high school I compared my life to others.
- Through college I compared my life to others.
- At work I compared my life to co-workers.
- As a pastor I compared my life to other Pastors.
Always seeing what they have and never seeing their struggles.
Always thinking “That’s not fair”.
To be clear, my life has been filled with moments of real gratitude and thankfulness, but so many times I became focused on my struggles or things that I lacked and compared them to the victories or possessions of others.
The Scripture teaches us very clearly how to handle these “that’s not fair” moments.
In Acts 9 we see the conversion of Saul (Paul). A man persecuting the church. A man in complete opposition to Christ and his followers. Yet God shows up and completely changes his life. We then see that God speaks to a disciple in Damascus named Ananias and tells him to go pray for Saul. Of course this raises some major concerns for Ananias who has heard about Saul and his persecution. I love God’s response to his concern.
Acts 9:15-16 But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. 16 For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.”
God not only say’s that Saul is his chosen instrument to speak to gentiles, kings, and Israel ( in other words, “everyone”); but he also says that he will suffer.
We often look at what others are doing and only see when they “speak to kings” and we fail to see how much they suffer behind the scenes.
We look at co workers and wonder why they got a raise or promotion, and fail to see the work they do behind the scenes. We look at other Pastors or others Christians and think “why are you doing that for them God and not for me” and we fail to see the struggles or trials that they are currently walking through. Ananias could have thought “why is he your chosen instrument to carry your name to kings?” and disobeyed God because it wasn’t fair. Instead he trusted and obeyed. And we don’t see him again in the scriptures.
When we compare our lives to others and say “that’s not fair”, we put God on trial as if he is not good and just. We need to remember it was grace and not “what’s fair” that saved us and sustains us. We must remember how God has called us to be chosen instruments when we didn’t deserve it. Sometimes we get to suffer for his name and sometimes we get to speak to Kings.
We see the same story of Paul’s conversion three times in the book of Act’s. Twice it is told by Paul to others. Paul loves to tell his conversion story. He loves to remember the moment of his rescue. It is remembering his rescue that allows him to stand during suffering, extend God’s love to others, without falling into self pity.
Our primary mission is to extend God love to others and we can not do this when we see people as enemies or rivals with more blessing than they deserve. Jesus confronts this line of thinking in Matthew 5:43-48.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
This Scriptures shows us that when we compare our lives to other people we fall into pride, devalue others, and ultimately judge God.
So instead of getting frustrated with yourself or with other people take time today to remember your “Road to Damascus” moment when God rescued you.
Stop comparing. Start loving.