It’s not a straight line, this journey of faith. I wish it were. 😟 I wish that I would always be moving forward and upward and growing stronger and more steadfast. That’s what I wish. But that is not my experience, and I daresay it is probably not yours either. Instead, our successes are often followed by failures. Why is that? Well . . . here’s what I have observed. The problem is us. Paul warns us about this: “I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.”1 Many of us think of ourselves “more highly” than others. That’s the problem.
When we do something and it has great success, soon—and very subtly—our pride sneaks in and we begin to think that we are pretty great! That we have many answers for people, that we should help others with our knowledge and knowhow. We love to compare ourselves with others, especially when things are going well for us! 😉
But note this: those of us who tend to think more lowly of ourselves than others still need to hear Paul’s words for we are not thinking “with sober judgment” about ourselves. We are, in fact, putting the same emphasis as those who think highly of themselves—which is, too much emphasis! 😯 The “sober judgment” brings us all on the same playing field. We are all to remember that the gifts we have been given are from God, by his grace. And we “do not all have the same function.”2 Therefore, we cannot compare our successes or failures with others because we have all been assigned different tasks while utilizing our assorted gifts.
Also, Paul says we are to think “each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.” That sounds like God gives some people more faith than others. But that’s not true. Remember, Paul is talking about not comparing ourselves with others. “The measure of faith” measures where we are in our personal growth. God assigns us gifts and gives us tasks—“good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them,”3 according to where we are in our faith journey. So, we can know that whatever task we are given, we are equipped for it. 🙂 But it is our journey and we cannot measure our journey by the success or failure of someone else’s journey!
But our journey is not a straight line, as I said before. As a matter of fact, it is a mighty crooked road because we are so inclined to stray off the path, comparing ourselves—looking down on some and thinking too highly of others. The core of the problem is that we trust our own judgment. We “lean on our own understanding”4 and think we know it all! But we don’t! We actually “know in part.”5 We actually know very little. Which is why our journey is not a straight line. We get distracted by others—how they are doing—instead of focusing on our task, our journey, our growth.
So what are we to do? 😕 How can we straighten out our path and stay on the road? Here’s a thought: “In all your ways, acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”4 And there it is. “In all your ways, acknowledge him.” “Acknowledge him.” We are to give God the glory when we succeed and look to God for guidance when we fail. But in everything—in all our ways—we are to keep our eyes on him—not on the people around us, and certainly not on ourselves for we are to never trust our own understanding of the situation. Instead, our instructions are this: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart.”6 That’s all. 🙂
1Romans 12:3 2Romans 12:4 3Ephesians 2:10 4Proverbs 3:6 51 Corinthians 13:9 6Proverbs 3:5