Last weekend I was working on a printing project. Part of it involved trimming some unwanted white edging from around the edges of pictures. So, I sat comfortably on the couch with the pictures in my lap, trimming away the excess.
I worked on the project off and on for a couple of days, including Sunday afternoon. I had changed out of my church dress into a cool white skirt. So, there I sat on the couch holding the pictures in my white lap, trimming off the white when the inevitable happened. I looked beside me at my stack of supposedly trimmed pictures only to notice that several of them still had white edges! I picked one of them up to trim it, but suddenly couldn’t see the white anymore. It disappeared against the white of my skirt, immediately clarifying how I’d missed the offensive edge in the first place. I changed tactics and held the pictures against the background of untrimmed pages and easily discarded the unwanted white.
It’s amazing what a change of perspective does. I thought my pictures were good, but when I held them against the colored background of the couch instead of my skirt, I immediately saw they were nowhere near good. They were still flawed. They still needed work.
The same is true of lives. It is so easy to hold ourselves up to the wrong standards. I do it frequently. I compare my spiritual growth to that of others. I compare my parenting, my actions as a wife in general and a pastor’s wife specifically, my housekeeping, my cooking, my schedule, my homeschooling, my writing, and so on and so forth.
It’s such a simple idea, really, that is brought again and again to my attention: it’s all about perspective. In fact, I now have a blog category devoted entirely to the idea of perspective. And yet, I so easily forget.
Who are you comparing yourself to today? Once you have that answer, ask yourself this one: Who should you be comparing yourself to today?
Holding my pictures up against the white background of my skirt hid an unacceptable flaw and made the pictures seem perfect. But, they weren’t. Holding our own actions up to the standards of one another can leave us feeling completely inadequate or beautifully successful. And both can be total lies.
When we hold ourselves up to the brilliant perfection of God, we will always fail to measure up. Always. But, when we are reminded that we are already made perfect in Christ, suddenly our whole perspective changes. We are once again reminded of the awesome price paid for our perfection, and we hunger to live out the righteousness that God already sees in us. Suddenly, our decisions are not made based on how someone else would do it. Suddenly, our adjustments of behavior aren’t brought on by guilt trips or the craving to keep up with the Joneses. Instead, every action taken is done in the delight of living Christ’s righteousness.
May we hold ourselves up against the standard of Christ and nothing else.