I think I'm better than you...
“All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.” Isaiah 64:6
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…” Romans 8:23
“When they kept on questioning Him [Jesus], He straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” John 8:7
I think I’m better than you…I think I clean up more than you…I think I work harder than you…I think I am holier than you…I think I am… How many of us can honestly say that we think that about ourselves in some context? Be it in our marriages, family, and place of employment or otherwise? It’s the dirty little truth that no one wants to admit. And in some instances, it’s true. Someone is cleaner than I am, someone may worker harder than I do and I can guarantee you someone is faster than me (Usain Bolt proved he is faster than all of us). We can freely admit those things, but what about when I behave and think that I am better than you? Holier than you? Better yet, what if you believe it about me?
Here recently, with the gay-marriage debate and the Chick-Fil-A “buy-in”, believers and non believers alike have weighed in on what’s right and what’s wrong. I have too. Yet while we are doing that, I am concerned about what we are doing to each other.
We are losing our compassion for others because we do not understand the compassion that has been shown towards us. Instead, in subtle and not so subtle ways, we are becoming judgmental, critical, and legalistic with our faith – the very things that Jesus came to tear down and destroy. We say that all sin is equal, but do we really treat others like that?
I have come to the conclusion that many of us struggle with the “better than” syndrome. Myself included. What is the “better than’’ syndrome? Simply put, it’s when you think you are better than you are. It’s an easy trap to fall into. Just because I don’t struggle with sex or drugs, I think I am better than the person that does. Just because someone is healthier and lives a fit lifestyle, they are better than the obese and sedentary person. Or because I haven’t raped, maimed, or killed someone then surely I am better than all those who have. Surely at least them. Yet how does God see us? When the adulterous woman was brought before Christ by her accusers, instead of condemnation, Christ said “let he who is without sin caste the first stone”. No one did. However today, we seem to have forgotten this because in every aspect of our lives I am seeing people caste stones. They are casting them in politics, in the church, in their homes, in our schools, or on Face Book and Twitter. If it saddens me, how much more is our Father saddened?
I am overweight and by medical standards; I am actually obese – even if it is stretched out over six feet. But it wasn’t until this week that I finally asked God for forgiveness for my sin of obesity. I never saw this as my sin. What sin you may ask? For letting food become my crutch and seeking it for comfort instead of seeking God; for living to eat and allowing food to become a stronghold of the flesh instead of eating to live; and more than anything, for all the times I treated my body more like a landfill than a temple (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
I use the example of my food and weight struggle because realistically I am no better than my friends that struggle with sex or those that struggle with lying, etc. No matter how I front. Most think like me and would never have seen the sin in that, but there is. I am no better than the person that drinks in excess or uses drugs. Our sins are manifested differently, but they are still sins, in public or private.
We all have our opinions of right and wrong, however God and His word are the supreme authority and our standards fall short of His. No one is without sin and we are all imperfect people and as Christians, we should remember that before casting stones. I believe that there are many things that are acceptable in our cultures which are in direct contradiction to His word, but I also stand by His grace and mercy. Without it, I would not be covered and neither would you.
I do not believe in tolerance for sin and will always speak the truth of His word in love (I am not the sugar-coating kind either), but other than the scriptures that point to Christ as my savior and the importance of loving the Lord, the scripture we should most honor is loving our neighbors just as well as we love ourselves (Matthew 22:39). In a world that places importance on the hierarchy, successes, and failures of others we should all remember that. We all struggle. We are all imperfect.
This week, before you speak against someone or have thoughts of judgment, remember that we are all equal. Our best falls short of the mark of eternity and if not for the grace, mercy, and love of the Lord, where would you be?