CONCEIT AND COMPARISON (Galatians 6:2-5 – Part 3)

Carry each other’s burdens; that’s the way to fulfill the Messiah’s law. If you think you’re something when you are not, you deceive yourself. Every one of you should test your own work, and then you will have a reason to boast of yourself, not of somebody else. Each of you, you see, will have to carry your own load. [Galatians 6:2-5 (NTE)]

sled dogs mushingThese last few days, I’ve been discussing Paul’s instructions both to carry one another’s burdens and to carry our own loads. In between those two directives, we find a warning about the things that can prevent us from doing that: conceit and comparison.

Conceit is thinking we’re better than we are. In carrying another person’s burden, we must never think ourselves too good to help nor should we think ourselves morally or spiritually superior to someone in their weakness and need. Comparison can lead to competition as we try to determine who is the better Christian by carrying his load better! The Lord has given each of us a task and equipped us with a specific set of skills and spiritual gifts to achieve it. The load given us is our responsibility just as the tasks and talents given to others are theirs. Moreover, we must never compare our virtues with other’s imperfections (leading to pride) or our flaws with others’ accomplishments (leading to jealousy). If we’re going to compare ourselves to anyone, it should be to Jesus!

Oddly, this reminds me again of the Alaskan huskies I wrote about on Monday. Like us, each dog on the team has his own strengths (and weaknesses) and is assigned a position and a specific task that fit his attributes. Because they must follow the musher’s commands, set the pace, and keep the gangline taut, the lead dogs are the most intelligent on the team. No less important, however, are the swing dogs behind them. After the lead dogs make a turn, their critical task is to pull the sled in an arc that keeps the other dogs on the trail. They’re responsible for getting the musher and sled safely around curves and corners. Next are the team dogs—the brawn of the team who pull the sled and maintain the speed. Last, but hardly least, are the wheel dogs. Often the largest members of the team, as the first to take on the sled’s weight when starting out or going uphill, they play a crucial role in pulling and steering the sled.

Like us, each dog has a different skill set and position. Nevertheless, regardless of their position, no dog is more important than another and each is essential to the team. Just as the dogs’ responsibility is to the musher, ours is to God. The Apostle Paul tells us to examine ourselves (not others) to make sure we’re doing the work given to us by God. Like the sled dogs, we must be committed to doing our task well without conceit or comparison, Let us faithfully carry our own phortions and always be willing to carry one another’s baros.

Don’t think of yourselves more highly than you ought to think. Rather, think soberly, in line with faith, the true standard which God has marked out for each of you. As in one body we have many limbs and organs, you see, and all the parts have different functions, so we, many as we are, are one body in the Messiah, and individually we belong to one another. [Romans 12:3-5 (NTE)]

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