Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to someone else . . . .”
Galatians 6:4 (NIV, 1984)
Somewhere in the depths of Lucifer’s cold, dark heart there came a moment when it somehow made sense that he was worthy of occupying a throne higher than the “Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace.” That ridiculous thought didn’t work out so well for him. Comparing one’s own circumstances or successes (or failures) with that of others never does. In fact, Paul told the church at Galatia that the wise follower of Jesus Christ should never compare oneself to another, but to always evaluate his or her own motives and actions in light of the Holy Spirit’s guidance.
While I do not believe it was necessarily Paul’s intent to make the leap I am about to suggest, I believe there is a valid theological corollary to what many experience in this most joyous time of the year. For all the celebrating that occurs during the Christmas season, it also lends itself to unfortunate comparisons—comparisons to the blessings of others (so vividly displayed on social media) or comparisons to our own Christmases past. It becomes so convenient to judge our own status in life or, even worse, the goodness of God, when we see fewer presents under the tree or fewer people gathered around our tables for Christmas dinner.
No, Paul was trying to encourage all of us to turn our focus internally to the real work that the Holy Spirit is attempting to accomplish in every individual believer regardless of the circumstances of others. As a child of God, we must remember that life is a never-ending process of growing into the image of Jesus and that He is the only standard to which we should aspire. Our blessings should not be measured by how much we get or give, or even if we spend Christmas alone, but by God’s goodness through every season of life—the happy and the sad. And for THAT, there is nothing to compare!