John 21:21-22 When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?”
Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.”
I’m so glad this is recorded in the Bible, because it shows that the apostles were just as human as we are. We are quick to say, or at least think, “What about him?” Whether from our standpoint that’s a good comparison or a bad comparison is irrelevant; Jesus’ response is the same. The Bible is loaded with examples of God choosing to do differently with people who to us might seem very similar. Jacob and Esau certainly come to mind. In some ways Esau was the nicer guy, until God really dealt with Jacob, but Esau’s values were off in some important ways, and God chose Jacob. The situation is different with Peter and John, or even with John and his brother James. James was the first of the apostles to be martyred, (Acts 12:2) while John is the only one of the 12 to have died a natural death. My personal feeling is that James had it easier than John, but the point is that God had different plans for them. We aren’t to be comparing God’s plan for someone else with His plan for us, either in pride or in resentment, but rather be earnest in fulfilling His plan for us with all we are and have. We are to encourage one another and serve one another – and so serve Christ (Matthew 25:40) – but not be comparing ourselves with each other. None of us really knows what it’s like to be another person. We are all better off being who we are to the best of our ability, for the glory of God.
I especially had trouble with this as a young person. Because I was a zero at sports and felt socially inept, I envied the “popular” people. In compensation, I was boastful of my intellectual and other abilities. None of that did any good, for me or for anyone else. Rather it tended to keep me from applying myself diligently, either because I thought it was no use or because of conceit. That fact alone has had a huge negative impact on my life. I am called to faithful stewardship, just as each person is. Comparing myself with others has gotten in the way of that stewardship, so in genuine repentance I need to cut it out completely. I don’t think I do it much any more, but I can’t say the temptation doesn’t arise. Diligent application still isn’t my strong suit, so I’ve got to keep working on that. After all, I still haven’t done all I’ve been told to do.
Father, the past few days I’ve been feeling like You want me to write a book, and I’ve been resisting. It’s going to take discipline, especially in the use of time, and my flesh doesn’t like that idea! Keep me from making excuses, but rather be faithful to do what You are directing, when and how You direct, so that all of Your plans for me may be fulfilled, on Your schedule for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!