meditations

Be the kind of friend that Jesus was to his friends

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“Mom, what are you doing?” one of my boys asked in amusement, looking over my shoulder.

I quickly moved the photo, embarrassed he had seen it.

What was I doing? I had zoomed in on a photo of my friends and me, trying to get a better look — not at our smiles, but our chins. Where did the double chin come from? I had wondered. I expanded the photo and leaned in, examining whether anyone else had numerous chins from this angle.

“Uh … just looking at some photos of the moms,” I said casually to my son, then changed the subject.

I put my phone down, but I knew that when he left the room, I’d be tempted to continue my comparison analysis of the photo.

It’s interesting that we call comparison a “game,” because I’m pretty sure Satan thinks of it as a winning strategy to distract and divide us. Those women in the photo are some of my best friends and greatest supporters, but when I obsess over measuring myself against them, I only want to pull away. I either shrink back, not wanting my flaws to be seen, or I distance myself, not wanting to be outdone. Both ways, my enemy wins.

Can you relate?

I love that the disciples struggled with comparison, not just because I can relate, but because as I read about their “who’s the greatest?” arguments, I get to hear Jesus’ response. Each time it’s the same. The disciples elbow past each other, contending for “greatest disciple” status and making it obvious that they crave an answer for the same question I have (and maybe you have it too): How do I measure up? Instead of answering it, Jesus repeatedly offers them a better one: How can I empty myself and serve? Oh, come on, Jesus- that's really convicting!!

There is a Kingdom where measuring up isn’t what makes you great, and what Jesus is saying is that emptying yourself in humility and putting others first does.

If there were a measuring cup filled with all your gifts, potential and resources, the enemy would point to the lines and encourage you to repeatedly put your cup next to someone else’s. But Jesus? He would point to the spout. He invites you to invest what’s inside your cup to serve others and pour yourself out — like He did.

If Jesus had a measuring cup, it would be larger than anything and brimming full. His worth is beyond compare, yet He didn’t concern Himself with proving it. Instead, He “… emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, … becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:7-8, ESV).

For us, Jesus took His measuring cup and turned it upside down. With the most extravagant humility the world has ever known, He “… poured out his soul to death …” (Isaiah 53:12).

When we pursue greatness in the Kingdom, we escape the measure-up mindset of the world.

Friends, are you exhausted by the endless comparison? Are you tired of measuring yourself against every friend, cousin or random stranger? Are you sick of zooming in on photos, scrutinizing your chin... or chins?

“How do I measure up?” is the wrong question. Our Jesus has taught us a better one. One that leads to Kingdom greatness!

Let's have some challenges today. In your time with God today, ask Him to help you pursue the Kingdom and to do so with humility.

When I enter a room full of people and ask, how can I pour myself out? How can I serve? My attention naturally turns to the spout, not the lines! My measuring cup takes on new purpose. If I’m looking for ways to serve, then keeping my distance makes no sense if I’m getting ready to pour.

Here’s the best part: When I tip my cup to one side, the lines don’t matter anymore — and oh how freeing that is!

If Jesus had a photo with His disciples, I think He would lean in and examine it closely, but not to measure or compare, like I was so boldly doing with my own photos. He’d be smiling, remembering how He had invested in each of their lives. He loved them. He knew them personally. He emptied Himself to serve each one. That’s the kind of friend I want to be.

God Bless You.

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