It seems to be the church in America is like a secret society. A masquerade. We exalt ourselves secretly in our hearts and minds. We dress up in nice clothes, paint our nails, put on our make up and do our hair, and pretend we are good. It’s all a performance. A sham. A pretense. We look around, assessing, comparing, condemning, judging. And we do it while we smile at each other so no one can see what we are doing. We are rivals. Competitors. Divided in our hearts. Secretly wanting to be the best. Only we are not as dumb as those disciples were who actually said it out loud! “And they came to Capernaum. And when he was in the house he asked them, ‘What were you discussing on the way?’ But they kept silent, for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest” (Mark 9:33-34).
We keep it secret. Because we fear that if everyone really knew what was in our hearts and minds, they might judge and condemn us. So we live our secret lives and remain secret enemies, pretending to be friends. And the enemy wins again.
What would really happen if we were exposed? What would happen if we chose to take off our masks? Confess our sins not only to the Lord, but to one another? The Bible answers this question. The answer is healing. James 5:16 says, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.”
It’s true that before Jesus saved us we “were darkness” (Eph. 5:8). “But now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, ‘Awake, o sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.’ Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise” (Eph. 5:8-15). “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Eph. 5:1-2). “Let us not become conceited” (Gal. 5:26). “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself” (Phil. 2:3).
“Love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own” (1 Cor. 13:4-5). God is love. “If anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself” (Gal. 6:3). “But when they measure themselves by another and compare thmeslves with one another, they are without understanding” (2 Cor. 10:12).
This is all that came to mind as I confessed to the Lord my continued comparing and judging spirit, as I sought to exhort my own soul with the truth of God’s Word and the truth of what biblical love is. We must stop comparing ourselves to others. We are one in Christ and we are to live as one in Christ, united in Him. The most beautiful gardens have variety. The Lord has made us all in His image, but we are all unique and beautiful in His sight. May He give us grace to look to Jesus.
“Peace be to the brothers, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible” (Eph. 6:23-24).
Learning to Live in the Garden of Grace