Comparison. It is often, as if somewhat inherent in the human being, to compare one’s objective state of being to another. Even among Christians, it is easy to lapse into a state of “Oh, but I wish I had more faith as him or her… Why, God? Why do you not give me more faith? “ or, “Of course its easy for one to have such faith… he/she is so blessed!”
The corollary of these thoughts is that it breeds negative thoughts, of unfairness, of anger at God, even. I believe that the danger lies in realizing that even the nature of what ‘blessing’ means, has become measured according to the world’s standard of what it means to be ‘blessed’ by God – health, wealth, family, youth, intellect, even experience, become objects of comparison, objects of measure. Even the legitimacy of one’s faith might be put into question.
Blessed is the Christian. Why? Blessed is the Christian because – and chiefly and solely because – of how he has been reconciled with God through faith in what Jesus Christ has done on the Cross. Blessed is the Christian, who has now entered into a living, active relationship with the God and Heavenly Father to whom he belongs.
I may speak from my own position. In the words of another, I agree that God has been very gracious to gift me with a measure of youth, a measure of health, a measure of wealth, a measure of intellect – circumstances not dissimilar to you who are reading this, too.
One might then ask: How can the faith of one Christian who is enjoying ‘First world comforts’, who is in an objective state of well-being, how can faith, bred in the above context, be compared to faith of others who are without these? Think further to the Christian in Syria or China who is suffering real persecution, fleeing oppositionist attackers, sacrificing precious lives even, for the sake of the Gospel. How real must their faith be, for the truth of the Gospel, at stake is life itself!
I must admit that I dwell often on the measure of faith which God has apportioned to brothers and sisters who are suffering – and indeed rejoicing – for the sake of the Gospel in these other parts of the world. Surely, their faith, tested through such fire, would surface as purest of gold. Surely, such faith… the Truth of the Gospel, the sweet fellowship of the Lord Jesus Christ, the promises of the New Heavens and New Earth, the promise of being with God in eternity… Surely, God’s promises, what depth they would mean to my brothers and sisters!
I do believe a Sovereign God apportions to each of His faithful children different measures of things. Different levels of health, wealth, youth, intellect… different levels of persecution, I might go as far to say. All of God’s children are to expect the celebration of these – and too, this rejection – from the world. We are not to compare what is the level of such and such that which God has chosen to gift unto each of us, but humbly acknowledge that He will not give nor tempt us beyond what we can bear (1 Corinthians 10: 13). We must rather seek to use all that we have – what little, or what lot – for His service. God does promise to meet our physical needs, and He does, indeed, bless His children spiritually and materially. But He blesses us for a purpose – not so we may squander those resources on ourselves, but so we may be faithful stewards of these gifts. We use them well for the advancement of His Kingdom, in His service, that His glory might be proclaimed among the nations, that many might come to know Him to win the lost to God’s saving grace. We await a Greater Kingdom, soon to come.
I take myself as an example. If I were not in Durham, if I had not a voice to speak audibly, if I had not the resources to travel to places to meet with people, I would have had the chance to be a part, tiny part that it may be, of God’s work to bring His dear children to Him, the chance to witness what God’s mercy and saving grace has accomplished in Durham, the saving of souls. Time, place, circumstance, context – God places each one of us in His Sovereign choosing of the Right place, Right time. We are exactly where God has placed us, and where He has placed us – here and nowhere else – we are to live our lives for His Kingdom and for His glory.
I say here, and I say with the conviction and with faith God has given me, that I may very well wake up the next day, and have all of the above, all that I have – health, wealth, youth, intellect, etc – be taken away from me. Poverty – beyond material poverty – would become ever real to me.
And yet, even then, I can, I must, I will rejoice. I will not fail to sing His praise, shout and praise His name. In comfort, in affliction, His promise gives and continues to give me life (Psalm 119: 50). In Jesus Christ and His perfect obedience, His perfect and fully sufficient sacrifice for me at the Cross, I rejoice with gladness of heart in the unconditional Love of my Heavenly Father (1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18). With what little I have of me, God will still use for His glory.
Stepping away from these thoughts then, this little prayer would hopefully encourage and strengthen the believing heart:
“May God be gracious to us and bless us and make His face shine upon us, that Your ways may be known on earth on earth, Your saving power among all nations.” – Psalm 67: 2
Make my home on earth, dear LORD, a little emptier, I dare ask, that my love for Christ, might richer, deeper, fuller be.
May God use this, use us, for His glory. Soli Deo Gloria.