Thursday, January 21, 2010


This past Sunday I heard a sermon about spiritual gifts. The preacher spoke of the spiritual gifts that each of us have received and encouraged us to use them. She reminded us that all of us have gifts and that none of us is gifted at everything; therefore, the community is at its best when everyone is using his or her particular gifts. She talked about Paul's imagery of the Body of Christ, illustrating how each member needs all of the other members in order to be part of a well-functioning body. No part is better than any other part because the body needs all of its parts. Likewise, no part is insignificant—every part is necessary.

This sermon reminded me how important it is to refrain from comparing myself to others. I am a special and unique person with good (and bad) attributes and work to do. I stand alongside others who are also special and unique, who also have work to do. Comparing ourselves to each other does not make us better or worse and does not help us do our work, so why do we do it? I want to be the best that I can be, but I also want my brothers and sisters in Christ to be the best they can be because their successes contribute to the whole to which I belong. I can't do all of the body's work by myself, so outperforming everyone else shouldn't be my goal. Instead I should compete against myself to elicit my best performance, and I should cheerfully help others do the same. Deep down, I know that I don't really want to be better than everyone else. As a Christian, what I truly want is for all of us to be good together.

When I compare myself to someone else, my love for that person is diminished. I resent her for having a talent or a quality that I do not. I dismiss him for lacking a skill or trait that I possess. In these scenarios, I'm focused solely on myself and my own goals and attributes instead of appreciating the gifts of others. I care more about how good I look in comparison to others than about the beauty and triumphs I could celebrate with them. People should be my family, not my benchmarks. When we stop competing with each other we each become free to work together and do our best. Our love builds us up so that we don't even want to be the best anymore—eventually we feel happy just being who we are.

In the end, that's what I want for myself: to be happy with the gifts and talents that God has given me. When I am satisfied with myself, I will have to reason to look at others with envy or arrogance. Likewise, if I am comfortable with my own talents, I will be able to use them better. I must accept the gifts God has given me in order to be a happy and effective servant. I am not lacking just because there are gifts I do not have—God specifically chose which gifts to give me and which to withhold. Therefore, I must endeavor to stop comparing myself to others and simply be myself. After all, that is what God created me to be.

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