“Lord, what about this man?” (John 21:21)
Peter asked Jesus this question when he learned that Jesus had ordained very difficult things for Peter’s future. So Peter wanted to know about John. Was Jesus going to give John a better deal?
Jesus responded, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me” (John 21:22)! In other words, How I deal with John is not your concern, Peter. If I deal differently with him, you must trust me. I want you to be faithful to the calling I have given you.
“What is that to you?” This is a question you and I need to be asked every day. Because how God deals with other people is frequently of excessive concern to us.
The fallen part of our nature doesn’t look at others and see the glory of imago dei (Genesis 1:27). It doesn’t revel in their unique refraction of God’s glory. It doesn’t want to rejoice in the sweet providences God grants to them, especially if we are experiencing a bitter providence. It is not grateful for their God-given strengths. It does not want to deal gently with their weaknesses (Hebrews 5:2). Being full of pride and selfish ambition it sees others mainly in relation to itself. It uses other people as gauges to measure success or failure; justice or injustice.
Oh the tyranny of selfish comparison! Of using others as tools to gauge our worth! “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death” (Romans 7:24)?
“Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 7:25)!
Do you hear gospel in Jesus’ words, “You follow me”? It’s a declaration of liberation. Christ died to make you “free indeed” (John 8:36). And this includes freedom from slavery to comparison.
God had you in mind when he created you (Psalm 139:13-16). He knew what he was doing. You — and your “stuff” and your circumstances — are not an accident. God does not want you to be someone else. Nor does he want you to follow someone else’s path. Yes, he’s aware of your deficiencies (more than you are). And, yes, he’s calling you to grow in grace (2 Peter 3:18).
But Jesus wants you to be you.
And you are your truest you, not when you are measuring yourself against someone else (or analyzing yourself at all for that matter), but when your eyes are fixed on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2) and you are following him in faith. And when you are serving others in love with the grace-gifts God has assigned to you (Romans 12:4-8).
So, no matter what today holds, be free from saying in your heart, “Lord what about this man?” For Jesus chose you (John 15:16), promised to supply all that you need (Philippians 4:19), and wants you to simply follow him.
And if you humble yourself under his mighty hand, trusting him to redeem all your suffering, “thorns” (2 Corinthians 12:7) and weaknesses, he will exalt you at the proper time (1 Peter 5:6).
Recent posts from Jon Bloom —