I'm not sure there are very many people immune to this: checking out what, when, how and why everyone else lives and trying to gauge one's own efforts thereby. It's terrible. A horrible habit resulting in all of us being exactly the same pent up, weighted down individual as our neighbor. Forfeiting our creativity and uniqueness for an easier answer- just use someone who appears successful as your standard. But the neighbor you look to is looking to their neighbor for a life measuring stick. Blind people lead blind people. AWESOME.
God has a better, more humane answer and as usual this morning I feel a little more free because of it. As usual, it has to do with letting go of control.
Paul says we are to think about ourselves, not pridefully, but, "according to the measure of faith that God has assigned... Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them..." -Romans 12:3, 6 ESV, emphasis mine.
"Measure" as in "measure of faith" simply means, "a determined extent, portion measured off, measure or limit."
There is a limit. Just like the strengths, weaknesses, uglinesses and beauty that you were born with and had no say in, we have been given an allotted portion of faith (faith means, "conviction of the truth of anything"). And initially it might freak us out. Especially the word "limit."
We don't take to limits well. Look at how we scrape and twist and pull on how God has made each of our bodies. Women slather their faces with multicolored powders and creams. Some die from eating disorders. A balding man is seen as a bummer. We couldn't choose our bodies or personalities we were born with but we sure can try to iron fist them into the teeny tiny box our culture has created for them. Why? Because we are told if we do that we will be happy.
We are born with brown eyes or black hair or a certain skin hue on the outside and a measuring cup of the ability to believe on the inside. The reality is we all have been given a different amount of the stuff. Some get more hair, some get prettier eyes, but ALL have an ability to live a life for God that the rest of us will never understand. And that't the point. I will never understand your measuring cup because it's not mine and I can't see it anyway. It is foolish to judge, whether positively or negatively your measuring cup and I am foolish to want mine to change- to wish I had your giftings, your charisma, your opportunities. I don't care what colored contact lenses you use, you'll always have blue eyes when you wanted brown. But the gal you're married to loves your blue eyes. Who's to say either one is more or less valuable? I may think I will be happy when I blend in and look a prescribed way, but if I'm honest I remember how every time I just let myself BE and live without thinking about it or worrying about it that I start to taste a little bit of the "happiness" that the world is trying to tell me I can only get from conforming. Clever world.
It's all part of a grand plan that we literally have no control over. Some will be martyred for their faith in Jesus Christ, some will live into their 90's and die peacefully surrounded by a gushy glob of 20 grandchildren. We don't make those choices. We don't have control. But I see rest in that rather than alarm. If I don't have control over what I have in my spirit- "the gifts differing according to the grace given unto us," then why don't I just give in to it and start living the way I, personally and specifically was created to live? The reason looking at everyone else, faith-wise or physical-wise, is so terrible is because it makes us forget what we already have and neglect using it or honing it. You've always wanted to lead worship, but what if your part in the grand scheme of faith is taking in strangers and showing them Jesus through THAT method. You want a super-model-stick-thin body, but curves have been beautiful since the beginning of time and pretty easy to come by. I always wished I was non-confrontational and non-passionate towards people. If I could change myself I would stop getting into situations where I made someone feel awkward or angry because I asked too many hard questions and gave too many words into the situation. Then one day Ian said, "Cas, why are you surprised that you make people upset sometimes? You're an exhorter."
Duh. God gave me a measuring cup that doesn't think it's bad or weird to lovingly confront people (although I'm still working on the loving part). So I'm not gonna think it's bad or weird either. A mental paradigm shift. A letting go of control. That's all it is.
What are your gifts? What would you do differently if you stopped looking around at everyone else and just decided to be yourself?