comparing one’s self with others

We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.

2 Corinthians 10

2 Corinthians 10-13 was an expose by the Apostle Paul, of false teachers, false apostles. Paul himself did not measure up to their standards. For one thing, he was weak, when they were strong. Paul’s refute of them is classic, and more than memorable words. We must take them to heart.

I don’t have enough patience with those who put down this or that servant of God as not measuring up to their standard. Usually such people have a propensity to look down on others, as if they themselves are above them. They need to humble themselves.

Paul went right after them, not mincing words. The gospel was surely at stake, since these false apostles were attacking the messenger, Paul. But also what was at stake is what it means to follow Christ, and be a true servant of Christ.

A true servant of Christ helps others to focus on Christ and the gospel, and not on themselves, or how great they are. We are servants of Christ, and of God’s word, and through that, of others (2 Corinthians 4).

The right focus is to celebrate the Lord’s working in everyone who belongs to him in whatever form that might take. The most ordinary may be more imbued with the Lord’s voice and power, than the one who has a celebrity status. Our focus needs to be on Christ and the gospel, and on God’s word. And out of that, be thankful for the many gifts God gives. Real spiritual, Spirit-directed discernment will often find the Lord’s voice, presence and power in people who don’t measure up according to worldly standards.

In so doing, we seek to be true followers of Christ Jesus. In and through him, and the gospel.

 

thanks to Jack and Sharon

Last week I shared the new commitment which Deb and I are embarked on. Today I want to thank Pastor Jack and Pastor Sharon Brown for their ministry to us during the years.

Because of the destructive criticism I’ve seen that is all too often endemic even among Christians, I tend to want to go extreme the other way. But I invoke a Biblical argument for that, namely Barnabas whose name meant son of encouragement. He was a man of God who preached the word and was a companion for a time with the Apostle Paul. And I knew a great pastor, Bill Hesse, whose life and ministry reminded me of Barnabas. I have called Pastor Bill “Barnabas risen from the dead.” Also I’ve often thought of Psalm 16:3:

“I say of the holy people who are in the land,
“They are the noble ones in whom is all my delight.”

That out of the way, I want to thank Jack and Sharon Brown, the pastors at Redeemer Covenant Church for their ministry to us over the years. Jack and Sharon complement each other quite well in their ministry at Redeemer. Jack is the extrovert, and Sharon tells us she’s an introvert. Jack gives good, thoughtful, dynamic sermons, not to mention his leading us in worship on the grand piano with the mix of instruments up front. Sharon, an award winning author and seminary professor doing pastoral care (not that Jack doesn’t) is especially gifted in praying with us both during the service and afterward. And her sermons are just as dynamic but in a quieter way as she works us through a text usually with a mix of sound exegesis and lectio divina. We will miss them, and we do.

We are enjoying getting to know Father Michael at Prince of Peace Anglican Church. He is also a servant of Christ who loves to teach during his sermons, as he calls us to faith and faithfulness through Jesus and the gospel. I’m enjoying getting to know him and the folks there.

Never will I compare servants of Christ. That is all we are at best. Any good that may come out is completely a gift from God no matter how hard we may work at it. Even our effort is a gift from God. We want it to be of the Spirit, and not of the flesh. And the best we can say for any church leader is that they are servants of Christ.

I believe the last service we attended was a rather chilly late summer Sunday. For some reason I simply stayed in summer clothes and I felt cool in the service as we took our regular seats in the back. With that coolness, which uncharacteristically for me I didn’t mind (at least much to speak of) it seemed that the cool breeze of the Spirit was manifest in an unusual way during that service. Yes, the Spirit is on that church and on Jack and Sharon. True also of Mike and Prince of Peace. And true whether we feel that to be the case or not.

When we met after our departure, Jack and Sharon epitomized what their ministry at Redeemer is. It was all love and encouragement, even though it had to hurt as well. You wouldn’t have known it. We miss and love these folks who we are also privileged to know as friends. And Redeemer is indeed a special church. Thanks, Jack and Sharon.