If you’ve ever been to a kids’ athletics competition and watched the sprint races you might have noticed a common phenomenon. In their competitive enthusiasm to run *really* fast and, more importantly, faster than the others you’ll often see them spending more time worrying about where their fellow competitors are than what they’re actually doing themselves. Any sense of technique or “rhythm” (which are the hallmarks of good sprinting) go out the window as they look to the left and right of themselves to see how they’re tracking.
“Oooh, I’m beating him, I’m going great!” … “Oooh, he’s beating me, go faster!!”
I’ve seen children so distort their bodies to check around them that they can end up running out of their lanes (and disqualifying themselves from the race) as a result. At the very least, they are highly unlikely to run their best race if this is their focus.
True in the physical – true in the spiritual.
In the ‘race of life’ we too can spend our time looking beside us – you know how it goes “oh, I’m doing better than they are!” or “wait, how come they’re doing better than me?” The first way, we’re talking about pride – the second way, we’re heading in the direction of jealousy. Either way is not ideal and either way shows us we are not looking the RIGHT way – which is ahead! To Jesus!
Heb 12:1,2 Therefore … let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of faith
We are to fix our eyes and sights on Jesus. HE is our measure. HE is our judge. HE is our standard. HE sets OUR race. How we compare to those around us is not the point! It’s not the goal!
As we looked at in part one of this series, jealousy is a warning light. It’s the “beep beep beep” that tells us something is misaligned with God’s heart for us. When we detect thoughts and feelings of jealousy it is often alerting us to the fact that we are looking BESIDE us for a sense of how we are doing rather than to God.
So often we default to the practice of comparison as the measure of our success (or otherwise). The way we know how we’re doing is to compare with someone else. Sometimes that can leave us feeling pretty good about ourselves (you can always find someone who you’re a little bit better than … at something!) and other times it can completely deflate us (of course there are always people who are better than me!). Either way, it has done nothing to address who, what or where we really are. It doesn’t answer the question of what God wants for us or from us. It doesn’t let us know if we are on a growth trajectory or sliding backwards. It is a completely useless measurement and does nothing to help us run the race that is set before US.
For reflection … thinking of your most recent encounter with jealousy did it reflect your buy-in to the snare of comparison? Do you often find yourself looking around you to see how you’re tracking rather than fixing your eyes on Jesus and what He has for you and desires of you?