I find that many of us have the lurking fear that we don’t quite measure up in some way or another. Feelings of inadequacy can paralyze us and prevent us from ever stepping out to be the instruments of love that God has created us to be.
Before we act, we stop and ask ourselves, “How will this be perceived?” We might even wonder, “What if I don’t do as well as someone else?” Our fears of inadequacy are linked up with this incessant necessity to compare ourselves to others.
We are taught to make these comparisons from an early age. Going to school, working hard, and these sorts of things are often motivated by wanting to “not be like those other people.” Don’t parents say to their children, “You’ve got to do this so you don’t end up like that“?
Before long, we accept high performance as the ultimate goal in every area of our lives. This isn’t to say that we should aspire to mediocrity. But sadly, we simply become effective workhorses who are good for nothing other than churning out product after product, and success after success. We become blind to the truly important things of life.
What then do we make of people who aren’t able to climb the ladder and move up in rank? In the best of us, we feel pity for them. This pity often drives something that we incorrectly call compassion. But this isn’t what true compassion is.
What we actually experience is a sort of internal distress over our own success and their own failure—and this internal “compassion” is what we use to eventually feel good about why we are here, and why they are there. Again, this is what happens in the best of us. Others of us simply think, “They deserve what they got, because after all they’re just lazy!” I would venture to say that this is an unspoken sentiment of so many of us, whether we realize it or not.
At the root of all of this is our addiction to compare ourselves. But this doesn’t have to be so, and for good reason. God does not compare us. We don’t have to “measure up” for God. Why not? Because if the truth be told, none of us would really measure up. But, thank God for grace!
Sometimes, we toss around the word “grace” without stopping to give attention to what it truly means. Sure, there are many different definitions of the word, but put simply, grace is best described as the love and mercy that God offers us freely—not because we deserve it, but because God simply desires that we have it. It’s that simple. Grace is an unmerited gift from God.
How different would our world be if we stopped deceiving ourselves, thinking that we some how deserve what we have, and realized that it is out of God’s infinite goodness that we are even alive?
And what about those who don’t have? Are they any less loved by God? By no means! Rather, people who view life as a gift also understand that they are called to use those gifts to bless others. By the very means that we have been blessed, we are called to bless. This is so radically different!
When we live in this way, we give new meaning to comparisons and measuring up. Instead of viewing ourselves and our things as status symbols, we view ourselves and our possessions as instruments to spread God’s blessings throughout all the earth. High performance for performance’s own sake ceases to be the goal. But we strive toward excellence—as faithful stewards of all God has given us—so that we can practice that same generosity shown to us.