Sandro Botticelli Adoration of the Magi
“When I see what so-and-so is doing, I feel that I fall so short.”
“I think I am disappointing so many people–I can’t seem to call everyone back, respond to emails, get all the housework done, be patient, and and and…, I always feel like I am falling short.”
“My children seem to fight all the time. I just can’t seem to manage them like other people do.”
“I am such a failure in my marriage.”
Even my children have felt this way lately.
“Seems all the people who are immoral get the parts in movies and television and I just keep plodding along with no special favor.”
“Compared to all of the other professional musicians around, I am not up to snuff.”
“Mom, do you think she has more skills than I do? Will you be disappointed in me if I don’t do as well as I thought?”
Comparing ourselves to others is epidemic. Comparison will always, always be destructive. We will either find ourselves falling short of others, and that will cultivate self-condemnation. Or, we will find ourselves better than others and that will bring pride.
Proverbs tells us that, “The fear of man brings a snare.”
When we look to others as the standard by which we should live, we make them idols. They become the standard by which we think we should live instead of living by grace and freedom in Christ. When we look to others for our affirmation, we will never find enough affirmation. There will always be someone better, prettier, more successful, wiser, ………
How grateful I am that Jesus shows no favoritism. He reached out to the unlovely, the unpopular, the meek: children, prostitutes, tax collectors, lepers, Roman soldiers, bleeding women–women! He lifted them up and gave them worth. Maybe he did show favoritism afterall–to the broken, the humble, those who had no illusions about themselves–those who appropriately realized that they needed a savior.
Jesus said, “I am humble and meek. Learn from me.”
I love coming into His presence. I am usually wrinkled in my pajama’s, sleep breath, no make up, tossled hair, vulnerable–(I am naturally a fearful person.) But I light my candle, have my tea, and in His presence I find love and acceptance and hope. He made me. He knows me and as Psalm 103, “He is mindful that I am but dust.” But I am a part of His family. I came from Him–his very own Spirit, He formed me in my mother’s womb. He will always be loyal and accept me because I am a part of His very being in this world.
In His presence, I am adequate, because He saved me so that I could be in His presence without pretense or performance.
“Come to me all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.”
Not come to me all who are perfect, have arrived, have accomplished enough.
If I am acceptable to the Lord of Hosts, the king of the whole universe, then I need not compare myself to others. As a matter of fact, it is the only way I am acceptable to Him, if I don’t try to come to Him on my merit, because I will always come up short.
I love the story of the little drummer boy that I listened to at Christmas time as a little girl. The scene I pictured as a little girl was the traditional manger scene of Jesus. Humble shepherds, keeping watch in the fields, heard the angels and sought the baby who had been born King of the Jews. Yet, there were the great “seers” from the far East. Seems that the wise men all dressed in silks, satins, velvets, adorned with gold, frankincense and myrrh also approached the manger where baby Jesus was born. These magnificent kings came with an auspicious entourage of servants, camels, baggage, fine jewelry and gifts.
However, the poor shepherd boy, had no possessions–nothing to give to this servant, come from heaven, nothing to compare to the finery of the wealthy, learned men. As he pondered what to do, he realized he could play for baby Jesus on the rude drum that he highly valued. And so the young boy, humble, uneducated, with no title prowess, approached the crib–and he played with all of his heart.
“I played my drum for him, parumpapumpum. I played my best for him, parumpapumpum.”
So to honor the Lord Jesus, the little drummer boy gave what he had and gave his heart of love with His gift.
And so that was what Jesus wanted–the boy’s love, the boy’s admiration and willing heart.
Now that is something I can give wholeheartedly–myself, my love, my faith and gratefulness. I may not give perfection, or maturity, or prowess, but I can give him my little girl heart. The heart that sees His beauty, His unconditional love, the freedom he gives me to be me, just as I am. And that makes me respond with such love, appreciation, such grace. How very grateful I am that Jesus does not compare me to anyone else. He is my justification. He is my badge of honor.
Even the way our precious savior came, as one of us, the common kind, “with no stately form or majesty,” shows us his preference. If we are to be pleasing and adequate, it must be with Him as our sole audience, the only one who can give us approval that will satisfy our souls.
So, this Christmas, may I give Him the gift of my adoration, not because I will ever be enough, but because He is my all in all.