Wednesday, May 20, 2015
John 21:18-25 Is that our business?
Last time we studied this passage, we explored the motivation behind Peter's asking about "what would happen to John?" and we discussed the "misery loves company" mentality that we humans sometimes exhibit.
This time we'll look at yet another human frailty -- we love to compare ourselves with others!
Perhaps Peter was wondering if his experience was unique. Was it like the snowflakes that fall, and it would be totally different from everyone else, including John? Or was it something that John would suffer, also? Yep, Peter may have been thinking that . . . after all, it is a natural human-type tendency to always compare our experience with someone else.
Here I am driving my 1998 pickup. Jane, the church secretary, drives a really pretty 2005 truck. Sure is nice. I bet they went into debt big time to get that truck.
Brother Bill and his children sure do seem to get along well. All seven of those kids are respectful and polite. Why can't we get our kids to do that? We all come to church and we make sure they are at all the activities. What are we doing wrong?
Everyone sure is making over Bernice. They act like she is the best thing since sliced bread, because she was elected Women's Missionary Union president, and they don't seem to care that I sang my heart out in that duet this morning. I could tell them some things about how she used to be. It'd make their hair curl.
We often compare ourselves with others.
But the devil can certainly use it.
Sometimes we do this to make ourselves feel better than others. Remember the poor man, and the self-righteous Pharisee? They both came to the Temple at worship time. The Bible says that when he prayed, he was thankful that he was not sinful like other people . . . nope, he wasn't sinful like other folks -- he had his own unique set of sins!
There are times that we compare ourselves to others, to make sure that they are doing as much as we are doing. My grandmother used to call this feeling "put upon." Here's an example: remember when Jesus went to visit at His friends' home, and Mary sat at the feet of Jesus, soaking up every word? It says in that passage that Martha was busy "with much service." Martha then complained to Jesus that Mary was shirking her responsibility, and leaving all the work on her. Yep, she felt "put upon."
If we aren't careful, the devil can use our comparisons and we can develop a bitter, resentful spirit; when we make comparisons and we think that we are the ones (the only ones) doing it right, or that we are doing more than anyone else! And then we will use those comparisons to justify what we do or don't do, when we should be asking ourselves if that's our business!
Here is how the Lord responded to Peter's question:
Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return,
what is that to you? You must follow me.”
Ouch. I expect that got Peter's attention.
Peter, don't worry about what is going to happen to John. It's not your business. Your business is to follow me, OK?
And that is the business that the Lord Jesus has for us today. We have to be very careful we don't fall into the trap of comparing ourselves to others, or worrying about someone else's business. Sometimes in churches there are peeps who are so busy making sure that other people do what they're supposed to do, that they leave their own responsibilities undone!
And if I did sing in the duet this morning, I don't need to compare myself to Bernice, or be jealous that she is successful in her own ministry.....Let's take a peek at a passage in I Corinthians:
There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them.
There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are
different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is
the same God at work. Now to each one the manifestation of the
Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through
the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge
by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit,
to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous
powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between
spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to
still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work
of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one,
just as he determines. (I Corinthians 12:4-11)
Each of us has a unique gift (or several) and we each have a unique calling, too. If I'm trying to do what the Lord has called you to do, I'm "gumming up the works" as my grandfather said.
If we think that our experience is the norm, and measure everyone else's experience by our own, we're messing things up! Conversely, we should not measure our experience by looking at Bernice or Jane or Brother Bill, either. (Grin)
We also should not try to enforce the diligence of others; it's our job to make sure that we are doing what the Lord has called us to do. Sure, if we are asked to pick up the slack for someone, we need to do it willingly, and graciously, but notice the operative words there . . . "if we are asked." Volunteering to do something is an awesome thing, too, but we must give our first priority to what the Lord has called us to do, then we are ready to "bear one another's burdens."
Lastly, we need to make sure that we don't compare ourselves to others, because we can deceive ourselves. We can only see what is on the outside of others; it's best to look inside and make sure we are doing what we should.....are we doing our own business?
Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride
in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone
Let's examine our hearts, determine what God has tasked us with, and make sure that we do that task first. Then let's look around and give others the hand up they might need. That's our business.