22 After this Jesus and his disciples went into the Judean countryside, and he remained there with them and was baptizing. 23 John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because water was plentiful there, and people were coming and being baptized 24 (for John had not yet been put in prison).
25 Now a discussion arose between some of John’s disciples and a Jew over purification.26 And they came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, he who was with you across the Jordan,to whom you bore witness—look, he is baptizing, and all are going to him.”
We start by comparing. then move to complaining, then move to competing. We look at another person’s situation, we look at another church’s attendance, and we compare that to our personal situation. If we by our standards are doing better, amen! If by our standards we aren’t doing better, we complain! We complain to our friends, our neighbors, our relatives, our co-workers about our situation! Then, we start competing—wanting to “keep up with the Joneses.”
What is happening? Simply put, the name on the back of the jersey begins to matter—and this is something that Christians cannot allow in their lives when they view other Christians. I love Paul’s perspective on this:
Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former proclaim Christ out of rivalry, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice (Philippians 1:15-18).
Paul was not concerned about the name on the back of his jersey—but only about the one on the front: the kingdom of God. Even though others were preaching Christ from bad motives as they compared and competed against Paul, Paul’s perspective was a Kingdom perspective: Christ was being preached.
Dear Christian, where is our perspective? Are we ones who are so Kingdom minded that we will do whatever we can to let our neighbors know the love of Christ and to remove every obstacle there is for those who do not know Christ to get under His gospel? Or are we so attached to our way, our station, our comfort, and our safety that we are desperate for people to know Christ regardless of how it affects these areas? Beware when you compare—the only thing we should compare ourselves to is are we being obedient to the Savior who redeemed us. Otherwise, we risk being called Satan as Jesus did to Peter because he “had in mind the things of men rather than the things of God.”