From the day we were born we were weighed, measured, analyzed and compared. Long before we ever had the opportunity to accomplish anything significant, achievable- or anything not quite so much, we were already being compared to other newborns. Doctors collect medical data to make sure babies are healthy, growing. thriving and doing all of the things that healthy babies are supposed to do and when babies are not healthy, they measure data in order to take the necessary measures to bring sick babies to the best level of health possible. When babies become toddlers we include bigger milestones to mark development and compare according to average what our toddler should be doing in order to consider his or her development to be on track. When our toddler grows into a school aged child we begin to expand our measurements of success in all sorts of ways to include academic testing, achievement awards and athletics. GPA tells students and colleges where they measure up in order to earn scholarships and this carries throughout college and continues into our careers where we continue to measure our successes and failures with data that we carefully compare with those around us in our departments, our companies, and our fields. We measure our credit scores to determine how we compare to others with our financial credibility and we measure the value of things we purchase to determine whether or not we are making good financial purchasing decisions. We can measure and compare just about anything. Data is powerful information that can be extremely helpful when it is used as a measuring tool in the appropriate areas of life. In fact, the bible has a lot to say about the importance of knowing the condition of our finances, being organized, responsible and having good business sense. Where it becomes a problem is when we try use this system of measurement to determine where we are spiritually, or when we try to measure ourselves by comparison to others when it comes to our spiritual growth. Although spiritual maturity (or a lack of) can be seen in behaviors, there is no “average” growth chart for spiritual maturity. It can’t be measured or compared with others because only God truly knows the real condition of the heart anyway.
We all live on an individual basis with God, our Father. Most everyone has heard that Jesus died for the world to bridge this relationship. It has been said so often that it sounds horribly cliché’, but if some of us who have chosen to follow Jesus were to share our own personal story of how God relentlessly pursued our own heart, you would find our stories to be both deeply personal and entirely individual. How incredible that not one of us has the same story, circumstances or relationship with God as another. The only way I can even begin to illustrate this point is to compare it to the relationships my husband has as father to our 3 children. My husband and I have 2 daughters whom are now responsible young adults, and a teenage son well on his way. They look like 3 different variations of our better physical features, each with their own personalities, gifts, talents and wonderful minds of their own. Naturally, there are a lot of similarities because we are a family, and though the basic house rules were the same for all of them, we learned very quickly as young parents that they were each bent a little bit differently, so our approach to parenting had to be a little bit different with each one of them too. Because of their differences, the relationships my husband has with each of them is very different. In fact, since they were all born at completely different times, their relationships even began at different times, but nobody could ever argue that they are not equally loved by their dad no matter how much longer one has been alive than another (even though they will ALL tell you that they are the favorite).
When our kids were younger my husband had a regular tradition of taking each kid to at least one MLB game every summer. We went as a family too, but the kids really looked forward to their turn for game day because they knew it would be a special one on one day with their dad where they would be spoiled with all of his attention and focus, a big ice cream sundae and yes, baseball! My girls also both loved sushi and to this day a sushi date night with dad is still a big deal to them. He loves taking them because it’s something they really enjoy together. My son, however, hates sushi and wants nowhere near a sushi restaurant. Both of the girls were involved in soccer, music and theater throughout high school, so while many of their interests were similar, their personalities are very different. My son, however, is a baseball player and does not ever want his dad to take him to the theater to go see a play. He is perfectly happy with the baseball games and the countless other things he does differently with his dad. God relates to us that way. He enjoys us the most when we are enjoying the things that we enjoy the most. Only it’s even deeper with God because God actually created us with our gifts so when we are doing the things that we are good at it actually brings God joy and it was intended to bring him glory. God knows how to relate to us as the creative individuals we are because he made us that way on purpose. We are all in a different place in that individual relationship because we were each created uniquely with a purpose that only God knows and He wants to spend our whole lives working out His remarkable plan in us. Though we were all offered the same invitation of salvation through the same sacrifice, our path is as individual as our uniqueness. We were each given different circumstances, gifts, opportunities, hardships and situations. Even still, the word of God is true for all of us and there are no exemptions. Just like my 3 children all grew up in the same home with the same father and the same basic household rules, my daughters were never expected to give their all and have a great attitude on the baseball field. That literally was never a challenge in their lives, although they both did spend quite a bit of time sweating and giving their all on a soccer field. The similarity is only because our kids happen to have sports in common. My son has never once had to face the challenges or the thrills of performing onstage that my girls have. They all, however, have been expected to carry themselves with honor, with respect and with integrity no matter what they have participated in. The bible says that God is fair and just and though all of us has a different path to walk, we are not to compare ourselves to the path of another. Imagine the danger of this by just thinking about the people we are surrounded with on a daily basis. Comparing ourselves with some could blind us with arrogance and keep us from seeing the need for change in our lives, while comparing ourselves with others could be so intimidating that we become paralyzed in our imperfection. People make terrible gauges because they are flawed with imperfection and they tend to bring out our flaws and imperfections whether they intend to or not. We were never intended to look to people, and often times what we see outwardly is not necessarily true of the heart anyway. Let Jesus be our one and only focus. He is the only one that is not out to derail you from your purpose because he is the author and creator of your purpose! Philippians 1:6 I am convinced and confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will [continue to] perfect and complete it until the day of Christ Jesus [the time of His return].