Freedom from Comparison
Our standard is Christlikeness, not whether we have seen other believers approve or disapprove of something.

Freedom from Comparison

by Adam Wittenberg
2/19/16 Christian Living

The Problem

We all struggle with comparison. It’s part of the human condition: since creation we have been tempted to blame, compare, and justify ourselves, but the Bible says Christ alone is our judge (Jn. 5:22).

How then do we live in this world? How can we know if we’re pleasing God if what’s right for one believer may not be right for another? The answer is, we must look to His Word!

The Word

Romans 14 is a key chapter about judging and comparing ourselves to others. Here are some verses from it:

“Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand” (Rom. 14:4).

“But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ . . . So then each of us shall give account of himself to God. Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way” (Rom. 14:10–13).

What It Means

The believers in Rome were struggling with comparison—and boasting about their choices, which was causing division.

One felt it was okay to eat certain kinds of food, but another didn’t. One worshipped on a certain day, but others on a different day.

Since Scripture didn’t offer clear teaching on these issues (there was no command such as “Thou shalt not steal”), Paul offered direction. Our standard is Christlikeness, not whether we have seen other believers approve or disapprove of something.

“All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify. Let no one seek his own, but each one the other’s well-being” (1 Cor. 10:23–24).

Paul, who also wrote Romans, says that each person will stand before Christ’s judgment seat. On that day, He won’t judge us based on what other people did, but on our actions. And our actions are not to cause others to stumble, because that does not glorify Christ (Rom. 14:13–15).

This applies to so-called “gray areas” today, such as whether to go to certain movies, listen to certain types of music, or what physical boundaries to set in a relationship.

Walking It Out

A story in the last chapter of John can help us.

Peter, who had denied Jesus before He went to the cross, was restored to Christ following the resurrection. Jesus gave Peter special instructions about his life, including the death he was going to die—pretty serious information!

After this, Peter turned to look at the apostle John and said, “’But Lord, what about this man?’” Jesus said to him, “’If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me’” (Jn. 21:21–22).

Jesus was saying, “I’ve got a plan for this man’s life—you worry about yours and following what I’ve told you. Let THAT be your focus, not other people.”

The point is, we are not to base our obedience on someone else’s life. If God’s convicted you about something—music, movies, boundaries in a relationship, or any other thing—stay true to what He’s said. Even if other believers are doing it, “you follow Me,” Jesus says.

And the good news is, Jesus judges our obedience, how we loved Him and others. On judgment day, the Lord “will render to each one according to his deeds . . . (giving) glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good” (Rom. 2:6–10).

More verses:

“There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and to destroy; but who are you who judge your neighbor?” (Jas. 4:12, NASB).

“Do not complain, brethren, against one another, so that you yourselves may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing right at the door” (Jas. 5:9, NASB).

Mike Bickle teaches on Walking Free from Legalism »

Adam Wittenberg


    A Detroit native who was raised in Vermont and Connecticut, Adam worked as a newspaper journalist until 2012, when he moved to Kansas City to complete the Intro to IHOPKC internship. Afterwards, he earned a four-year certificate in House of Prayer Leadership from IHOPU and is now on full-time staff in the Marketing department at IHOPKC. He also serves in the NightWatch (overnight prayer hours) and is active in evangelism. He, and his wife Stephany, have a vision to reach people everywhere with the good news of Jesus Christ.

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