April 1, 2015

 by Susan Reusser, LCSW

“Not that we dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who are commending themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding.” II Corinthians 10:12

We humans LOVE to compete. From cutest baby to pee-wee soccer to Friday night lights to class rankings to climbing the corporate ladder we are always looking to be better than the other guy. As a counselor, I am knee deep daily in the stuff of human relationships. I often see the results of competition that goes way beyond sports or talent shows. What exactly is it that we are missing when we compare ourselves with others? How does this demonstrate that we just don’t understand what Christ has done?

Marriages and families are wrecked by the idea that one is better than the other. Even years after the words, “I forgive you” have been spoken over deep hurt from an affair, one or the other spouse still sees their relationship as unequal. A little boy wonders for years why an older sibling is loved more. A parent struggles to love his children equally. A spouse questions whether he or she is smart, attractive, thin, or rich enough to please a mate. In these comparisons, whether we are the “winner” or the “loser” what we don’t understand is the nature of our sin, the depth of God’s love for each one of us, and the absolute forgiveness that we have in Christ. That’s quite a lot to miss!

We are all born in a deep hole of sin.   The comparative depth of the holes isn’t important – each hole keeps us from being on solid ground! Corrie ten Boom, a survivor of the holocaust and great champion of the healing power of God’s forgiveness once said, “There is no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper still.” When we stand on Christ’s righteousness, we are all at the same level – the level of the redeemed - forgiven at the foot of the Cross. We stand together on LEVEL ground; no one is higher, greater, or more holy than another.

We are tempted to look at the things we have accomplished – at our works – at how good we have been. We can probably always find someone who isn’t as smart or as attractive or as “good” as we are. We can usually justify our side of any argument. We can find “reasons” for our sin. We are told in Romans 3:23 that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Paul had quite a pedigree, but called it all “loss.”   In Philippians 3 Paul describes himself as “not havinga righteousness of my own that comes from the law, butthat which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith.”

When we keep score about who is more right or less wrong, we are denying the deep pit from which we have been pulled. We are looking at our works for our redemption. “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin” (I John 1:7-8). Acknowledging our sin and the depth of our need for Christ puts us on level ground with others in the community of faith and with others in our own families. Forgiveness with no strings and without keeping score restores our relationships – with God and with each other.