Tax collectors and other notorious sinners often came to listen to Jesus teach. This made the Pharisees and teachers of religious law complain that he was associating with such sinful people – even eating with them! – Luke 15:1-2
We humans often find solace in measurements and comparisons. Be it height, weight, material wealth, or academic accolades, these yardsticks pervade our lives, subtly influencing our sense of identity and belonging. It's an age-old tendency: to gauge ourselves against others, seeking a foothold in this vast world.
Consider the scenarios that unfold in our minds:
"I may not be the brightest star in the room, but I do hold my ground, perhaps hovering around the 75th percentile..."
"I may not have a meticulous organizational streak, yet I certainly outshine most certain individuals in that department..."
"My daily interaction with the Bible may not rival my friend's, but it certainly surpasses that of any coworker of mine..."
These measurements and comparisons often surface when an undercurrent of dissatisfaction lingers within us. Instead of turning to our true source of value and identity - the One who lovingly created us - we often seek validation within the confines of this world, grasping for ways to uplift our self-perception.
The Pharisees, for all their piety, fell into this very trap. Driven by their own self-righteous comparisons, they stood tall in their own eyes, convinced of their holiness, knowledge, and divine proximity. But as Paul gently admonishes, "For we are not bold to class or compare ourselves with some of those who commend themselves; but when they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they lack understanding" (2 Corinthians 10:12, CSB). Jesus observed this perilous journey—the Pharisees relinquished their authentic selves and embraced an identity shackled to the confines of societal perception.
Join me now in an imaginative voyage:
Picture yourself in a sacred space, enveloped in solitude. In this profound solitude, stand God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. Envision the Creator crafting you with meticulous intention, weaving together every facet of your being. With purposeful deliberation, He breathes life into you, pronouncing you "Very Good" (Genesis 1:31). Wrapped in the grace of Jesus, you stand as a testament to His divine craftsmanship—uniquely fashioned, warts and all. At this moment, His attention is solely upon you; there is no measuring against another's qualities or attributes. His joy emanates from a deep wellspring of love, for you are His cherished child.
Each time you step into His presence, remember this perspective. You are seen and cherished, just as you are.
Our identity transcends the fleeting constraints of this temporal world. Contemplate the parables within Luke 15 - the jubilation that erupts upon the discovery of something lost, whether it be a sheep, a coin, or a prodigal son. Now, envision the divine celebration that unfolds as we reclaim our genuine selves, cast off the shackles of worldly comparison, and find solace in our true identity.
As you journey forward, keep this in mind: the next time you catch yourself caught in the web of comparison, take a deliberate step into God's presence. Allow Him to view you as His beloved creation, embracing every aspect of your being. Beseech the Holy Spirit's guidance as you learn to see yourself through God's adoring gaze, embracing both strengths and vulnerabilities. In this profound encounter, extend gratitude for the intricate design with which you've been fashioned. Be well!