Wednesday, February 11, 2015

NBA #11: It's Not a Competition

New Believer Advice #11:  The Christian life is not a competition!
            Our job is to do our best to follow after God, to grow more and more like Jesus, to draw nearer and nearer to Him, and to reflect Him to others.  And we cannot compare our progress to other Christians or compare their progress to ours.  It’s not about what jobs or positions God gave someone else, what gifts He gave them, or how well they are doing on their journey with the Lord.  It’s about what He gave you and if you are being faithful to do your best with it for His glory. 
            There is no faster way to sour a Christian than to compare your spiritual progress and gifts to another person.  Just focus on you and on your walk with God and on doing your best for His glory, no matter where you are, what your job is. or what gifts He gave you.  God notices and appreciates whenever you are faithfully following Him and seeking to bring Him glory, no matter how small your role or job.  And He will reward it in eternity.  When we stand before Him, we are accountable for our lives only, not for someone else’s.    

(New stuff for this post.  Taken from the “Get Comfortable” post, February 2016.)
            I am in one of those “small job” periods of life.  I am a mom.  It’s my job.  It’s what I do.  I wash the same dishes every day.  I do the same, never shrinking piles of laundry every day.  (Okay, maybe more like every other day.  Umm . . . actually . . . every third day is more like it.)  I have to make breakfasts and lunches and think up seven different dinners every week that will please six people with different tastes, listening to the same complaints about we are having to eat night after night.  I have to do math and reading and other schoolwork with the kids, checking progress and grading papers and praying that God helps me do my best to grow my boys up academically since I am not just their mom but also their teacher.  And I have to do this every day, waking up the next day and doing it all over again.  And I know that, to the world, it is not glamorous or exciting.  But to me, it is my mission right now, my God-given role, no matter how trivial the daily jobs seem to be and how little I feel like I have accomplished. 

            “ . . . whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”  (1 Corinthians 10:31)
            “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.”  (Colossians 3:23)
            These verses do not say that we have to go out and find big jobs to do that bring God glory.  They are saying that we are to glorify God in the jobs we currently have, in the daily things we do, no matter how big or glamorous or public they are.  We can wash dishes for His glory.  We can make dinner for His glory.  We can go to the same boring job every day for His glory.  We can be kind to our neighbor for His glory.  It’s not about adding some new task that seems more glorifying to Him.  It is about doing the same things we already do, but changing our reason for doing it. 
            As a mom, I should not be washing dishes or making food to get appreciation from my family or just because it’s my duty.  I should be doing it – to the best of my ability and with a thankful heart – because I know this is the job God gave me today and because it glorifies Him when I do it with all my heart.  It should be enough for me to know that He is watching me and that He cares about how I do it and that He will reward my faithfulness someday.  (And I wouldn’t trade this job – being a mother - for anything.  I am absolutely convinced in the core of my being that this is where I need to be for now.  And I am thankful for this job and this role.  It might not mean much to the world, but it means the world to me.) 
            It doesn’t matter how big, exciting, or fulfilling the job is; it matters how we do it and if we are doing our best for Him.  I think this is why God (through Paul) could tell the slaves, “obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord.  Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.  It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”  (Colossians 3:22-24) 
            And it’s why He could tell the masters of the slaves, “Provide your slaves with what is right and fair, because you know that you also have a Master in heaven.”  (Colossians 4:1)
            It’s not about being the slave or being the master.  It’s not about your position or your circumstances.  It’s about doing your best at your current job, in your current role, to please God and for His glory and because you know that He is watching you and will reward you accordingly.  (This is not to say that God approves of slavery, just that - no matter our role in life or the role someone else gets - He expects us to do our best because He is watching, because it matters to Him.)    
            The mother or kindergarten teacher or garbage man or store clerk who is humbly and faithfully doing their best at their job out of thankfulness and for God’s glory is as honoring and pleasing to God as a president of a business or a leader of a huge organization who is faithfully, humbly, thankfully doing their job for God’s glory.  (Read that again!)  There are no small jobs in God’s kingdom! 
            If God is pleased to give us “small roles” or “small jobs” then we should be pleased to do them with our whole heart, for His glory, as though working for Him.  And if God is pleased to give someone else a big role or exciting job, then we should be pleased to let them shine and support them and lift them up in prayer.  Let’s be concerned only with how we are doing the jobs God gave us and how we are fulfilling the roles He gave us, and let’s not envy someone else.
            We all have our own path to walk.  Our own race to run.  So let’s run in such a way to make Him proud.  He is not comparing us to anyone else, so let’s not do that either.  (Besides, we can never really know the burdens, temptations, trials, and heartaches that come with other people’s jobs or roles.  So don’t glamorize anyone else’s life in your mind.)