Wednesday, October 20, 2010

day 277: “only by comparison” part iii of v

Continued from yesterday….

There are myriad problems with the only by comparison way of thinking. The first, and obvious one, is that we are told in Scriptures not to compare ourselves among ourselves: “For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise” (II Corinthians 10:12 KJV). This version says that when we do this, we are not being wise. Other versions say we are being fools when we do so.

Besides the Bible’s take on that, something extremely unhealthy happens to our spiritual lives (or our character or our parenting, etc., whatever the area in which the comparison is made) when we start measuring ourselves against others. We either feel bad about ourselves because we think that we cannot measure up to someone else—in the case of measuring ourselves to someone who is more spiritual, more noble, more disciplined in their parenting, more character-filled, etc. Or we feel good about ourselves—because the party that we chose to measure ourselves against happens to be lower than we are (in our eyes, anyway) in that area of comparison.

It is such a common malady that parents have told their children forever and ever, “Don’t worry about what Johnny said about you. He just puts you down to make himself feel/look better.” Then as adults we do the same things to ourselves—compare with someone weaker in some area to make ourselves feel better (even if we don't make the comparison verbally).

The problem is widespread in Christianity—and it has invaded our parenting, forcing our parenting standards to go down lower and lower—lower than they were, but still a notch above the person or persons we are comparing to! Too often Christian parents base their performance in parenting on how poorly someone around us is parenting—and we try to at least hover above that level.

This ought not to be! Christian parenting should not be about looking, seeming, or feeling better than those around us. It should be about excellence. It should be about high expectations. It should be about pleasing God in our parenting—not others, and certainly not ourselves!

I have a list (of course!) of suggestions for those of us who seem to be sliding down into “normalcy” or “sub-par” parenting due to false and unhealthy comparisons. (And even after nearly twenty-eight years of “doin’ the Christian parenting stuff,” I still fall into that trap myself at times!)

Join us tomorrow for these suggestions on how to not live in the “only by comparison” gutter…

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