Tag Archives: Comparison

Prejudice, Comparison, and That Which I Control

Miriam and Aaron began to talk against Moses because of his Cushite wife, for he had married a Cushite. “Has the Lord spoken only through Moses?” they asked. “Hasn’t he also spoken through us?” And the Lord heard this.
Numbers 12:1-2 (NIV)

Our local gathering of Jesus’ followers has spent the past eight weeks in a series on “Kingdom Culture.” In the prayer Jesus taught His followers to pray it says, “your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” We’ve been talking about what it means to live and relate with one another as a part of God’s kingdom on earth.

The sticky wicket, of course, is that any group of humans in an organization tend to have relational struggles and conflicts over time. Despite what Dr. Luke described in Acts 2: 42-47 as an idyllic beginning, even the early church began to struggle rather quickly. Most of the letters that make up what we call the New Testament address relational struggles within the local groups of Jesus’ followers. Paul himself had famous rows with Peter and Barnabas.

It was no different for Moses and the Hebrew tribes as they leave Egypt and begin to be make a nation of themselves. In the previous chapter the conflict was with the whines of the “rabble” within their midst. Today is is Moses very own siblings.

What’s fascinating to me is that Miriam and Aaron at first complain about Moses’ wife being a Cushite. There were multiple regions referenced as Cush in ancient times. It is not known for sure who they were referencing here. At least some scholars believe that they were referencing Moses’ wife Zippora who was from the land of Midian. Whatever the case, they complained about Moses’ wife being a foreigner, but then immediately discuss what appears to be envy and jealousy for their brother, Moses’, standing and position. How very human of us it is to complain about one thing on the surface (Moses being married to a Cushite) that masks a deeper resentment (sibling rivalry, envy, and jealousy about brother Moses’ standing with God as leader and prophet).

This morning I’m thinking about how common the human penchant is for prejudice, jealousy, and envy which leads to back-biting, quarrels, and conflicts both small and great. I’m reminded of Jesus’ conversation with Peter on the shoreline of the Sea of Galilee when he prophetically reveals to Peter the violent end he will endure. Peter’s immediate response was to look at John and ask, “What about him?

Jesus answered, If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.”

I am so given to worrying about others, comparing myself to others, and seeking some sort of perceived personal equity with others. Jesus response to Peter tells me to stop concerning myself with useless and destructive comparisons. Each person is on his or her own respective journey, and their journey will not look like mine. My time, energy and resources are to be focused on my own journey, my own relationship with God, and the personal thoughts, words, and actions I control with my heart, mind, eyes, ears, mouth, hands and feet.

Chapter-a-Day Jeremiah 12

You are right, O God, and you set things right. I can’t argue with that. But I do have some questions:
Why do bad people have it so good?
   Why do con artists make it big?
You planted them and they put down roots.
   They flourished and produced fruit.
They talk as if they’re old friends with you,
   but they couldn’t care less about you.
Meanwhile, you know me inside and out.
   You don’t let me get by with a thing!
Jeremiah 12:1-4 (MSG)

One thing I have noticed a long the way; It is very difficult for us to stop comparing ourselves to others.

  • “Why won’t you buy me a car? Every one of my girlfriends’ parents bought them a car!”
  • “The only reason that guy got published was because he’s the son of someone famous. It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. Why don’t I have those connections?”
  • “I went to my friends house. It’s so big, and it’s so beautiful. Why can’t I have that?”
  • “That guy runs his business with less integrity than the mafia and he’s making money hand over fist. I try so hard to do the right thing and I can’t get a new client to save my life. What’s up with that?!”
  • “Why does that guy win the lottery and I’m still stuck with more bills than income this month? What gives, God? How about giving me a break for once!”
  • “At least I’m not THAT down-and-out guy. I must be doing something right.”
  • “Awwwww. Her husband gave her flowers. Why does she get him and I’m stuck being married to such an insensitive dork.” 

I am on my own personal journey. It is my journey and while there are certain things common to the human experience, it is still unique. God’s plan for someone else is different than His plan for me. Comparing their path and mine is apples and oranges. My job is to walk my own path well, and seek God’s will for me in each step. I will always be able to find others who appear to have it better, easier, and happier than I do despite the fact that they also appear to fall short of my own personal sense of self-righteousness.

“But Godliness with contentment is great gain.” I Timothy 6:6 (NIV)

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Flickr and Helga Weber