Comparison is the Thief of Joy

 

We live in a world that makes it nearly impossible not to compare ourselves with others. Sometimes we even compare our life as a Christian to others. However, we must fight this urge and recognize two essential facts.

First, receiving forgiveness for our sin and asking Christ to come into our life is like a seed being planted in our heart. Any seed planted must first take root before it grows and blossoms.

Do you remember in school when you planted a seed in a clear plastic cup? If the seed was planted close enough to the edge, you would see the roots would grow downward first; then a few days later a plant would appear above the dirt!

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The only difference between you and the other Christians that you compare yourself with, is that they have had more time to spread their roots down deep. They have been “rooted” and built up in Him and established in faith for a longer period of time.

When we took the first step of faith to trust Christ with our life that was like the seed being planted. From this point it is up to you and God to nourish the seed and let the roots grow deep.

Your faith is nourished by rooting your new relationship with Christ. This means getting to know God better through reading and obeying His Word in the Bible. As with any relationship, time together helps you to appreciate God’s character and will lead to a greater love for Him.

Second, God doesn’t compare one Christian to another. So you shouldn’t either! As Christians, we never get to a point where we have arrived and are totally mature. Our love and appreciation for God can always grow deeper as He shows us new areas in our life to trust Him with.

When you do your very best, you feel good about the results, and there is no need to compare yourself with others. People make comparisons for many reasons. Some point out others’ flaws in order to feel better about themselves. Others simply want reassurance that they are doing well. When you are tempted to compare, look at Jesus Christ. His example will inspire you to do our very best, and His loving acceptance will comfort you when you fall short of your goals.

Enjoy all of the stages of our faith by taking in all of the spiritual nourishment you can handle. Remember that the stronger and deeper your roots grow below the surface, the more beautiful and fruitful you will be as a Christian.

 

Love Always,

Ash

Never Compromise Your Faith For The Wrong Popularity

1 Timothy 4:12 (NKJV)

12Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.”

 

When people think of idolatry, the first thing that comes to mind are the people of the Old Testament and their worshiping of idols made from wood and stone. We wonder how they could deceive themselves with these objects. Idolatry is making anything more important than God, and our lives are full of that temptation, even today. Some examples of today’s idols are money, looks, success, reputation, security, and even popularity. These idols promise everything you want but nothing you need.

In today’s society, people are popular only if they have the right looks, the right clothes, a certain amount of money, have so many followers and likes, date a certain person, or drive a certain car. The lines are pretty clearly drawn. Lots of people are on the other side of every one of those lines, including me.

Growing up in school this really bothered me. All I craved was popularity. I tried to fit in with these cliques, but I ended up losing myself somewhere along the way. There was a time where I didn’t even recognize myself anymore. Literally. My attitude was horrible and insincere towards others and I only cared about myself and my new so called friends. Nothing about me was Christ-like.  I just wanted everyone to like me.

My perspective changed when I realized that it didn’t really matter whether the kids in my school thought that I was cool; what mattered was what God thought of me. If I wanted Him to think that I was great, I had to forget about fitting in and just focus on pleasing Him. I still wasn’t considered one of the “popular” people, but that didn’t bother me anymore. I was getting to know God, and because of that, I knew that I was popular with The One whose opinion really mattered.

“Never compromise your faith to fit in. Don’t conform to the ways of the world or condone sin. Renew. Transform. Share faith. Be an example.”

Love Always,

Ash

 

 

NOTES:

  • Don’t allow popularity to twist your perception of your own importance. It’s easy to be humble when you’re not on center stage, but how will you react to praise and honor?
  • Often those who try the hardest to become popular never make it. But the praise of people is not that important. Don’t spend your time devising ways to please others so you will be accepted in the public eye. Instead, strive to do what is right and both God and people will respect your faith.
  • Those who are concerned about building a name for themselves risk losing the very recognition they crave. We should be concerned for righteousness, honesty, and excellence, and leave the fame up to God.
  • Those seeking the wrong type of popularity are more concerned with criticism than encouragement, with their own appearance than helping people, with outward respectability than practical help. God is concerned for all people. The Christian life is not a popularity contest! We need to follow Jesus’ example and share the Good News with the poor, lonely, and outcast-not just the good, talented, and popular.

 

SCRIPTURES:

  • Obeying God may not make you popular. Read Matthew 3:7-10, Mark 6:27, and Luke 3:19-20.
  • Never be so popular that you are ashamed of Christ. Read Matthew 10:32-33.
  • Be more popular with Christ than with people. Read Luke 14:25-27.
  • Jesus was not popular. Read John 17:14-17.
  • Believers must stay away from some popular activities. Read 1 John 2:15-17.

 

I was ashamed…

Psalm 25:1-7 (NKJV)

1 To You, O Lord, I lift up my soul. 2 O my God, I trust in You; Let me not be ashamed; Let not my enemies triumph over me. 3 Indeed, let no one who waits on You be ashamed; Let those be ashamed who deal treacherously without cause. 4 Show me Your ways, O Lord; Teach me Your paths. 5 Let me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; On You I wait all the day. 6 Remember, O Lord, Your tender mercies and Your loving kindness, For they are from of old. 7 Do not remember the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions; According to Your mercy remember me, for Your goodness’ sake, O Lord; Therefore He teaches sinners in the way.

 

When I made the decision to begin a relationship with God, I did not tell many people. I wanted them to continue to like me. I thought that if they knew that I was serious about being a Christian, that they would think that I was better than them. I know it sounds crazy now but that was just how I felt. I was so worried about losing friends and maybe even some family members, that I kept my Christianity a secret.

I WAS ASHAMED!

It was like I was living a double life. I had a mental list of things that I could and could not say and do around certain people. I did not want to offend anyone or make them uncomfortable. I do not know what it was, but I was afraid to let everyone see the true me. I was having a hard time finding peace with the situation.

One day I asked, “What does God expect from me?” I was lead to read Deuteronomy 10:12-13. In these verses Moses gives a summary that is simple in form and easy to remember: (1) Fear God (have reverence for Him). (2) Walk in all His ways. (3) Love Him. (4) Serve Him with all your heart and soul. (5) Keep His commandments. If I could get myself to concentrate on His real requirements; to respect, follow, love, serve, and obey Him; then I would find peace.

I also struggled with the fear of people finding out that I was a Christian, and them making fun of me. I desperately wanted to be bold enough to not care what others thought. Then I was reminded that in Isaiah 51:7, Isaiah encouraged those who served God to discern right from wrong and to follow God’s laws. He also gave them hope when they faced people’s ridicules or insults because of their faith.

We do not need to fear when people tease us for our faith because God is with us and truth will prevail. If people make fun of you or dislike you because you believe in God, remember that they are not against you personally, but against God. He will deal with them; you should concentrate on loving and obeying Him.

When we are ashamed of being a Christian, we are opposing God’s way of living. We may live a basically good life and yet miss doing what is most important. A lifetime of doing well is not enough if we make the crucial mistake of not following God with all our heart. A true follower of God puts Him first in all areas of life. Wholehearted reverence means appreciating God and honoring Him in all areas of life. We need to show our loyalty to Him in every part of our life, not just going to church. If we reverence God with our whole heart, then our work, relationships, use of money, and desires will be in keeping with His will.

When you are tempted to be ashamed, remember what the Good News is all about. If you focus on God and what He is doing in the world rather than your own inadequacy, your embarrassment will soon disappear!

Love Always,

Ash

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You are God’s child and you need to start acting like it!

Imagine never being anxious or worried about anything! It seems like an impossibility—we all have worries on the job, in our home, at school. But Paul’s advice is to turn our worries into prayers. Do you want to worry less? Then pray more! Whenever you start to worry, stop and pray.

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a worrywart is a person who worries too much or who worries about things that are not important. Before I started this blog (and still sometimes today) I worried about it. I worried that I would lose family and friends, be talked about, not be supported, and all kinds of other things. I worried about my life and those in it. I even worried about things and situations that had absolutely nothing to do with me. I was worrying so much that I was physically making myself sick. I sometimes allowed my insecurities and worries to drive me right out of God’s blessings for me!

One day on my way home from work, I was in my car sitting at a red light. I normally have some type of music playing in the background, but on that particular day it was quiet. I had so many thoughts and worries running through my head, that it became overwhelming. I tried to turn on the radio to get my mind off of things, but every station was full of static. I knew that God was trying to get my attention. I had not spent any quality time with Him in days and it was affecting me greatly.

When I arrived home and got settled in for the night, I sat on the side of my bed and began to pray. I was lead to look up scriptures and passages about worry. The one that really spoke to me was Matthew 6:25-34. I know I read those scriptures one hundred times that night. The more I read, the more I understood. Every time I read them, I could feel the burdens on my shoulders get lighter and lighter.

Matthew 6:25-34 AMP

25 Therefore I tell you, stop being worried or anxious (perpetually uneasy, distracted) about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, as to what you will wear. Is life not more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow [seed] nor reap [the harvest] nor gather [the crops] into barns, and yet your heavenly Father keeps feeding them. Are you not worth much more than they? 27 And who of you by worrying can add one hour to [the length of] his life? 28 And why are you worried about clothes? See how the lilies and wildflowers of the field grow; they do not labor nor do they spin [wool to make clothing], 29 yet I say to you that not even Solomon dressed himself like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive and green today and tomorrow is [cut and] thrown [as fuel] into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! 31 Therefore do not worry or be anxious (perpetually uneasy, distracted), saying, ‘What are we going to eat?’ or ‘What are we going to drink?’ or ‘What are we going to wear?’ 32 For the [pagan] Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; [but do not worry,] for your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But first and most importantly seek (aim at, strive after) His kingdom and His righteousness [His way of doing and being right—the attitude and character of God], and all these things will be given to you also. 34 So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

While reading and taking notes, I found seven reasons not to worry.

  1. The same God who created life in you can be trusted with the details of your life.
  2. Worrying about the future hampers your efforts for today.
  3. Worrying is more harmful than helpful.
  4. God does not ignore those who depend on Him.
  5. Worry shows lack of faith and understanding of God.
  6. There are real challenges God wants us to pursue, and worrying keeps us from them.
  7. Living one day at a time keeps us from being consumed with worry.

Still to this day, I find myself worrying or being anxious. I talk to God about it and I have a little pep talk with myself. The last time I was worried about something, I told myself, “You are God’s child and you need to start acting like it!”

Below I have listed the scriptures that help me when I am worried or anxious. I like to write them on postcards or sticky notes and put them in places like on my computers, on my mirrors around the house, or in my phone as daily reminders. I pray that these scriptures help you as they have helped me.

MORE SCRIPTURES AND NOTES ABOUT WORRY:

Mathew 6:25-34. Reasons not to worry.

Matthew 8:23-27. Let Christ calm the storms in your life.

Matthew 10:29-31. Jesus will take care of you; don’t worry.

Matthew 14:25-33. Don’t look at troubles, look to God.

Mark 4:35-41. Place your confidence and trust in Christ.

Psalm 34. How to trust God.

Philippians 4:6-18. How to have peace instead of worry.

We worry about details in our lives over which we have no control, while neglecting specific areas that are under our control. Concentrate on what God has given you to do, and leave the rest to Him. Jesus said that God cares for the sparrows’ every need. We are far more valuable to God than these birds, so valuable that God sent His only Son to die for us (John 3:16). You are of great worth to God. Because He places such value on you, you need never fear personal threats or difficult trials. But don’t think that because you are valuable to God He will take away all of your troubles. The real test of value is how well something holds up under the wear, tear, and abuse of everyday life. Those who stand up for Christ in spite of their troubles truly have lasting value and receive great rewards.

Love Always,

Ash