2008-06-20 - But I'm Not Like Them
Originally Published 2000-03-01
One time, my son Bobby and I had a "boys'" weekend by going snow skiing here in North Carolina. Bobby had wanted to go for some time, so I made all the arrangements, picked him up early from school and headed to the mountains!
Kids have a way of keeping us adults honest. Bobby loves to talk. We both were filled with excitement and I was driving slightly over the speed limit Okay, actually I was driving 80 M.P.H. in a 65 M.P.H. zone. Bobby became quiet and I noticed he was reading the highway signs and then looking over at the speedometer. Finally he said, "Dad, the speed limit is 65 and your thing there says 80." I pondered a minute, wondering how in the world I was going to make this a teachable moment for him. Like a good father, I ignored him!
A little while later, the question came up again. I was prepared this time. I said, "Bobby, see all those other cars passing us? They are going faster than we are. So I am not as bad as them!" To which he wisely replied, "but Dad, you are speeding." (I think he will make a good lawyer someday.) As I slowed down to 65 M.P.H., I told him he was exactly correct. Laws should not be broken. We should be honest in everything we do.
Many of us, including myself, rationalize our own actions by judging the behavior of others. I think what Jesus was saying to Peter in today's verse is simply "Don't concern yourself with my plan and my will for others. Just follow me and my will for your own life."
I once had an encounter with a non-Christian friend that followed this same logic. I had asked him just whom he thought Jesus was. He replied that he believed Jesus was a great teacher and man. Of course, that sent me into a Bible-quoting mode. I explained that Jesus was more than just a man, that He was also God -- and that we need Jesus in order to make it to Heaven. My friend said, "I am a good person. I am not as bad as so-and-so. I say my prayers every night. I keep the Ten Commandments. I have not killed anyone, cheated on my wife or anything bad like other people I know."
I believe many people, both Christians and non-believers, are like my friend. We rationalize by saying, "well, I am not as bad as so-and-so." I believe some think they will be in line behind a Charles Manson type person when they get to Heaven and then they can say, "Gee God, I sure was not as bad as him!" The problem with this thinking occurs when you are standing in line behind Mother Teresa!
On the flip side, we can envy others who seem to be more "spiritual" than us. I have done that. I can remember times when I would sit in church thinking, "now if I could just be like that guy." But you know what? I was like whom God made me to be. I was where God wanted me, just as I am today. We need not be comparing ourselves to others; we need to simply follow the One Who made us. Please do not misunderstand me; I think it is wonderful and very important to have a spiritual mentor, someone to look up to and try to emulate, but the ultimate Mentor is Christ. I am referring to being envious of what others seem to have. We are all in different places along our spiritual journeys. So let's start where we are now and move forward to where God is calling us to be. Let's stop rationalizing, instead realizing that God is in control and He will not stop refining each of us to be the "one and only you and me" that He created. Is that a deal?
Romans 14:4 Who are you to judge someone else's servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.
Father, forgive us for being envious of others and trying to be someone that we are not. Help us to be sensitive to Your promptings in our lives. Father, increase in each of us a hunger and passionate desire to simply follow You. We pray for both non-believers and believers who fall for this trap of believing that if they are just better than the next person is, then everything is okay with You. In Christ's name, Amen.