Comparison Killed The Friendship
I’ve been learning a lot about the art of rejoicing with others lately. And I’m learning it as I walk through a painful loss in my own life. As I watch friends and family receive what was taken from me, temptation weighs heavy upon my shoulders. It’s a temptation most of us wrestle with and many of us give in to.
I recently wrote about how comparison is really just a glorified word for envy. Comparison comes from a covetous heart. It’s a heart that says, “I want what she has.” or, “Why didn’t God give me that too?”
And it’s damaging to a friendship.
Why Not Me?
At some point in every friendship, there will be one gal who receives what the other has been dreaming of. Whether its a husband, a baby, another baby or an opportunity you want, she has it, and you don’t. And it’s hard.
Our hearts naturally curve toward envy. When this happens, something rises up within us (sin perhaps?) that makes us feel as though God has been unjust–that he’s slighted us in some way. If our friend got what we want, don’t we deserve it too?
Unfortunately, the bible isn’t too keen on our envious thoughts…
Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21 ESV, emphasis mine)
Furthermore, no, we don’t deserve anything good from God because we are totally depraved. (Romans 3:11-12).
In order to put off envy and truly be happy for our friends, we must have a correct theology of God’s goodness and sovereignty over our lives. We must develop a trust in him that runs so deep into our being, it causes us to recognize that what God gives and what he withholds is his ultimate best for our lives.
If your friend receives that positive pregnancy test after your miscarriage, that is his goodness to you both.
If your friend receives a diamond ring at 22, while you look at your bare finger and yet another year of singleness, that is his goodness to you both.
We will never move past the temptation to compare our lives with others until we have a solid trust in our good Father who always chooses the best way and the best gifts–even the ones that don’t look so good to us.
READ: Reconciling God’s Goodness With Our Suffering
Rejoicing With Your Sisters
It takes strength that is not our own to rejoice with a friend in her receiving of what we want or what has been taken from us. Thankfully, the strength we need is found in Christ, and he longs to transform us by his power into women who can truly rejoice over the gifts of another.
He enables us to have true joy in our hearts for our friend even as our hearts are breaking.
He doesn’t call us to pretend we aren’t hurting. He draws us near, and asks us to bring our sorrow, grief, weariness and confusion to him. And then to simultaneously be overjoyed for the gifts he’s given others. And we can do this, by his grace.
There’s Much At Stake
In my group of friends at church, I am one of two couples who haven’t had children yet. This didn’t use to bother me, until I lost our baby through miscarriage. Now, the emptiness of not only my womb, but my arms as well, have become a burden I bear every Sunday. Recently, a few of my friends stood, babies in hand, chatting about motherhood, as I stood in a corner fighting back tears. Though they were doing absolutely nothing wrong, instead of rejoicing with them, I felt bitterness grip my heart and envy fill my veins.
Thankfully, the Lord cut through the sin in my heart and reminded me of truth. He guided me back to a place where my heart was willing and ready to worship him for his gifts to others.
If I had not listened to his call to repent, if I had stuffed the conviction down, envy would have destroyed my friendships. My feelings, which turned to thoughts, would have sooner turned to hate-filled words, and then harmful actions.
I would have isolated myself, avoided them, not celebrated with them and eventually the relationships would have dwindled away.
Comparison kills friendships.
This is the way sin works. It breeds death to everything around us.
But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. (James 1:14-15 ESV)
What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. (James 4:1-2 ESV)
Friends, we have to learn to rejoice with our sisters in Christ even as our hearts break. There is so much at stake. Even the very picture of the Gospel. We are the Body of Christ, and it is not a suggestion, but a command to both bear each other’s burdens and rejoice together.
Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. (Romans 12:15 ESV)
When we praise God with a girl who is receiving what has been withheld from us, we show Christ to the world. We show how the Gospel can transform sinners into a people who truly weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice. A people who love others more than themselves. A people following in the footsteps of Christ.
And in doing so, we will build thriving friendships that point others to Jesus.
When Wives Bribe Their Husbands With Sex
This article is intended for adult women only.
It’s a tale as old as time. An exhausted wife looks at the mountain of laundry, and then at dirty dishes practically jumping out from the sink. She glances over, only to see her husband relaxing on the couch. She thinks to herself, I know what will make him help me. And thus begins her manipulation to get the help she desires.
The only problem is, sex is not and never should be a bribe.
The Purpose of Sex
There are multiple purposes for which God created sex. In Genesis 1:28, we see sex was a means to reproduce and fill the earth. While this is the most obvious reason God created sex, we can infer from the way he created it to work, between husband and wife, that he also created it to bring pleasure within marriage.
God is in control of the biological, emotional and spiritual affects of sex, because he created it. (Genesis 1:27, 31). Not only did God create it to be pleasurable, he also created it to be a bonding agent between the husband and wife. When a couple has sex, a chemical called oxytocin is released that draws them closer together and deepens their bond. This is one reason, among many, why sex outside of the commitment of marriage is so destructive. Furthermore, the release of oxytocin is meant to draw the couple to keep coming back to each other for more.
The act of sex is a picture of the unbreakable bond between Christ and the Church, as well as the joy to come when we are with our Bridegroom.
Paul brings up another purpose for sex:
But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. (1 Corinthians 7:2 ESV)
Due to our sinful flesh and this fallen world, God ordained sex within marriage to be a safeguard from sexual sin.
Sex is a Command
“My advice to you is that you have a lot of sex in your marriage. If you aren’t having sex, you are sinning.” My Pastor shocked us with this statement years ago in a premarital counseling session.
That’s beautiful news to the ears of a couple awaiting their wedding night. But once married for a while, it can, for some couples, feel like more of a chore than a gift. Especially for women with children or too much on their plate.
I think this is where it starts–the temptation to lessen sex to a toy used to manipulate our husbands to get what we want. We begin to take it for granted, forgetting that not only is it a gift from God to us, for the good of our marriage, but he has commanded married couples to strive for a healthy sex life.
The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. (1 Corinthians 7:3-5 ESV)
If you are married, your body is first and foremost God’s, and then your husband’s. And his is yours. When you spoke your vows on your wedding day, you entered into a covenant in which you promised to give yourself fully to your spouse. We have sex with our husband whether or not we get what we want from him. A gift is not earned but it is given regardless of whether or not it is deserved.
Sex isn’t a piece of candy to be dangled for good behavior, but rather a gift to be given fully and without condition.
When we use sex as a bribe, we threaten to withhold our bodies from our husbands if they don’t obey us. And in doing so, we sin against God.
Sex within a biblical marriage is sacred. Making it into a reward system devalues the true meaning and beauty of sex, and is detrimental to the health of a marriage. Furthermore, it demeans our husband. When we use sex as a bribe, we treat him like a child rather than a man. We disrespect him and set him up for failure.
Do you really want to cultivate an environment in which your husband only helps around the house to get something from you? Or would you rather have a man who cleans because he loves you sacrificially? I know there are men out there who don’t lift a finger to help. Wouldn’t it be better to pray for God to change his heart in this area rather than sacrificing your own value by making some sort of payment plan?
Sex is about pleasing the other person. It’s not a device used to gratify our desires. In the marriage bed, we seek the other’s joy. When wives make it into a reward to be earned, they cause their husband to focus on getting his own sexual desires met, rather than seeking to please his wife. All the while, creating a selfish environment where the true, self sacrificial beauty of marriage is crushed.
When you and your husband make love, you are partaking in a holy act. Did that last line cause you to blush? It feels uncomfortable for us to think of sex as “holy”, because our minds have been tainted by sin. I love what John Piper has to say about this:
“We need a robust vision of the beauty and sacredness of sexual intercourse as God designed it.” John Piper
If we truly understood the meaning of marital sex, we would never think to offer it up as a bribe to get what we want. Instead, we would hold it up and honor it for the beautiful, glorious gift it is. And we would praise God for allowing us to partake in such a holy act that is a metaphor of Christ and his Bride. Something we don’t deserve, but is given to us by God just as we should freely give ourselves to our husbands.
Not as a reward, but as a sacred gift.
For more from John Piper on the sacredness of sex within marriage, check out this podcast episode: Why Sexual Metaphors of Jesus and His Bride Embarrass Us
Those Who Suppress the Truth Prove Gods Existence
Post-modernism is the new black. Many millennials wear it like a favorite pair of toms. They let it soak into their minds like an inspirational quote on Instagram. And the complete rejection of logic is saddening.
“Your truth is your truth.”
Actually, no, that isn’t true. The definition of truth is that which is in accordance with fact or reality. There is only one reality and only one truth. You can disagree with what I believe to be true but you can’t claim two contradicting beliefs to both be true.
Furthermore, the rejection of truth actually proves the existence of a holy, righteous God.
The Law Reveals Our Sin
Ask almost anyone on the street and they’ll admit that they’re a sinner. This is because each of us are image bearers of God (Genesis 1:26-27) who have the law written on our hearts.
They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them…(Romans 2:15 ESV)
Even those who have never heard the gospel have God’s law seared into their consciences. They have a basic understanding of right and wrong. They feel guilt and shame because of their sin.
It is impossible for a person to live without any morals, though many times those morals are misguided. If you make any kind of judgment regarding right and wrong, you prove to be created in the image of a God of justice. You may be screaming, “Judge not!” at your neighbor while you simultaneously judge them for disagreeing with your lifestyle.
No matter how much we try to cast away God’s law, we cannot escape the truth that we are moral beings forever attached to our Creator.
Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. (Romans 3:19-20 ESV)
The law is meant to bring people to a knowledge of sin. The correct response is repentance and trusting in Jesus who obeyed the law on our behalf. But many people choose to reject that there even is such a condemning law.
The evidence of God’s existence is in the person who casts off the law as meaningless and suppresses the truth that there is a God to which each of us are accountable.
We don’t want his accountability. We would rather to cling to our sin instead. So we ignore truth, hush our guilty conscience and deny his existence.
Those Who Suppress the Truth
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. (Romans 1:18 ESV)
Those who suppress the truth actually reveal the wrath of God which in turn, proves his existence. Funny how that works. In striving to run from the truth they show God’s word to be 100% accurate.
For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. (Romans 1:19-20 ESV)
Avoiding the truth that God is Creator and has authority over all is inexcusable.
Rejection of God as Creator is the first step down the trail that leads to destruction. And the wrath of God is revealed in the lives of those who follow that path.
This rejection leads to dishonor, ungratefulness, darkened hearts, foolishness, and drives us further into sin.
For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. (Romans 1:21-25 ESV)
Human hearts were made to worship. If our affections aren’t directed toward the God of the Universe, they will find something to replace him, though that replacement be faulty at best. We worship boyfriends, money, sex, feminism, friends, even ourselves. While none of these things will satisfy, all of them will destroy us if made to be lord of our life. And these things we make our “god” prove the existence of the one true God.
Given Over to Sin
In Romans 1:24-32, the words “God gave them up” appear 3 times.
God’s wrath is revealed on the unrighteous by allowing them to continue in their enslavement to sin.
Because they exchanged the truth for a lie and rejected God, he gave them up to
- the lusts of their impure hearts (vs. 24)
- the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves (vs. 24)
- dishonorable passions, including homosexuality (vs. 26-27)
- a debased mind to do what ought not be done (vs. 28-31)
They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them. (Romans 1:29-32 ESV)
Sin is a cruel master, leading people to more darkness, pain and eventually death. The most gracious thing God can do for sinners is to save us from such destruction. The scariest place to be is given over to a debased mind; to our darkest desires. This is where his wrath is revealed.
All Are Accountable to God
No matter how much a person strives to suppress the truth, in the end they will see their striving was in vain.
You can’t will accountability to God away. You can’t run from Almighty God. There is only one escape from his wrath and that is by the blood of his Son. Only through Jesus will anyone be saved from the wrath of God.
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. (Romans 3:23-26 ESV)
A propitiation is the effects of the death of Christ in appeasing the divine justice, and gaining the divine favor on our behalf. It is only by the atoning sacrifice of Jesus that we are saved.
The law is meant to bring us to our knees before our Creator in acknowledgment of our sin and our need of a Savior. It is there where grace is found. It is there where sinners like you and me can be justified by faith.
Oh, how I pray that his kindness would lead those who are lost to repentance today.
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