When you can’t let go of stuff, it will eat you up – physically, emotionally and more importantly spiritually. If we can inspire, help, equip or challenge people to just LET IT GO, we can change our overall well-being in life.
What is one thing on your bucket list, and why is it something you want to do?
This weekend Rusty talked about overcoming the curse of comparisons and the weight of envy. Chances are pretty good that at some point in your life, you find yourself satisfied… until you take a look over to the left and someone else has something a little bit better than you do. And then you find yourself a little bit miserable.
The fastest way to kill something special is to compare it to something else. We compare relationships, jobs, houses, and cars. We find ourselves measuring our value and worth based on what other people have. Craig Groeschel says, “Where comparison begins, contentment ends. “
Where in life do you tend to compare yourself with others?
Have someone in your group read 2 Corinthians 10:12.
It’s as if Paul, who started a bunch of churches shortly after Jesus death and resurrection, is saying, "It’s ridiculous to say, 'Look how their kids act all the time,' 'Look how much money they’re getting paid.' 'Look at their relationship and what I don't have.' It’s ridiculous to compare yourself to other people as if they’re the standard."
Comparing does two things. It either makes you feel superior or inferior. We don’t honor God in either of those moments.
Some of us look at others and feel superior. "I got the nice car because I worked hard and God loves me. I've been faithful, and look at that old piece of junk thing that he's driving because obviously he doesn’t love God like I do and doesn't work as hard as me."
But most of us will feel inferior, which takes us down a path to envy and jealousy. You look on Instagram in the middle of a busy day, working hard to make ends meet, and see your friend laying on a beach in a fabulous city. You throw your child a simple birthday party and the day after go to a huge, over the top birthday celebration at your friend’s house. And envy begins to creep in.
Jesus’ disciples, the twelve guys who followed him more closely than anyone else, struggled with envy and competition just like us. As you read through the Gospels, the Biblical accounts of Jesus’ life, you find them saying things like, "I got to sit next to Jesus. I was closest to him." And “Who's his favorite?” There's this little competition between .
Share with your group a time you felt envy and competition in a relationship. How did it make you feel?
Have someone in your group read John 20:1-4.
It must have been great to be John, “the one that Jesus loved.” But it had to be hard to be Peter, the other one. Many of us can relate. We have been the other one. We have lived in the shadow of a beloved or larger than life parent, sibling, or friend. Our friend has progressed at a faster pace and succeeded in areas we are still trying to reach.
Have someone in your group read John 21:1-22.
Peter has this powerful encounter with Jesus. Before the crucifixion, Peter was very bold in his love for Jesus and again, he almost took shots at the other disciples. Peter said, "I love you. If all these other losers are unfaithful to you, I will always be faithful to you. I've got your back. I will never leave you.” But then he denies knowing Jesus. Not just once, but three times.
In the midst of this moment Peter turns around and saw behind him "The disciple that Jesus loved." He's having this encounter with Jesus and then, what does Peter do? He thinks, "There's John. There's my competition."
In John 21:21 it says that when Peter saw John, he asked Jesus, "What about him, Lord? What about him? You told me to feed the sheep; what about him? What's his assignment?" Haven’t we all felt like that? We worry that their assignment, their role, their place, their position, their outcome—whoever they is in our life—will be better, more important.
Jesus replied to Peter, "If I want him to remain alive until I return, what's that to you? Why are you wasting your time on him? I'm talking to you." Jesus says, "As for you, follow me. Your assignment is to follow me.“
His message for us is to stay in our lane, do what God has called us to do. We each have a unique assignment. We don’t have to worry about anyone else. When we start down that path of comparison we take our focus off Him. We cannot faithfully follow Jesus if we're always comparing ourselves to somebody else.
If we want to be who He fully calls us to be we have to stop looking over our shoulder saying, "What about them? Why are they getting the attention? Why are they more blessed than I am in this area of their life?"
Why do we do this? Because by nature, we are sinful human beings. Our sin nature causes us to view ourselves differently than God views us. We are trying to find some external win to satisfy an internal longing, and there is no external accomplishment, blessing, relationship, money, satisfaction that ever quenches the inner spiritual longing. There is nothing on the outside designed by God to satisfy you on the inside. Only God Himself can do that.
What are some specific ways we can overcome envy and comparison?
Often, when we truly get to know people whose lives we envy, we realize that they have their own problems. They make a lot of money, but they hate their job. They have a great family, but they suffer from anxiety. They’re really good looking, but they’re so insecure that they make themselves miserable. Life seems good on the outside, but on the inside they’re every bit as tied up in knots as we are.
Essena O'Neill was a 19-year-old Instagram model whose life looked amazing in the photos she shared online. She writes:
I grew up being a teen [idol]. I was social media famous at 15. At 12 I saw myself as this huge, solid, too tall, nerdy, awkward majorly unpopular girl. I thought to be social media famous would be the best job ever and if all these people ‘liked’ me I would be happy. At 15 I got what I wished for, I was first Facebook famous - tall, slim, blonde, smiling, straight A student… Then I moved onto Instagram and tumblr, then shortly after - at the request of others - YouTube. …
I pushed away all my old friends and anyone who knew me for me (goofy, nerdy Essena – not the teen [idol]). I talked ill of my old friends and only hung out with social media people…
During this time I became so caught up in pleasing people, getting more success in my career, becoming thinner (fitter was my excuse), dating countless guys at the same time, meeting with lots of different agencies and having proposals for major modelling and YouTube deals. All I talked about was my social media, getting a new fancy car, getting a fancy flat in LA, new cute clothes, my growing followers, brand deals…. This was everything I did and talked about each day. …
What’s ironic, during all of this struggle I was getting more and more followers, thinner and thinner, better and more visually appealing pictures… online it looked like I had the perfect life… yet I was so completely lonely and miserable inside. I hid it from everyone. I smiled and laughed in pictures and vlogs. No one knew I had what now is described as social anxiety disorder, depression, body [dysmorphic disorder]… whenever I met someone I instantly thought ‘they hate me’ or ‘they make fun of my videos’ ‘they think I’m stupid’… I felt exhausted trying to keep up this bubbly, funny, happy façade. …
The culture of Instagram fame, sexism in media, the sexual objectification of women, the deception in paid posts, the idea that skinny starving girls get ahead, that if you’re born into the body I have – you get a career out of it, you get an invite into all the parties, everyone wants to take you to lunch, everyone says they love you… I lived that life and felt so alone, shallow and lost… BECAUSE I WAS.
What runs through your head as you read Essena’s story?
We all create façades, pictures of ourselves that we present to the world that aren’t real. When we pretend like our lives are great, we can easily cause others to be jealous and envious of us. How do you think the façade you create might be impacting others?
Have someone read Hebrews 12:1-2
We stay in our lane, we fulfill our purpose, we do what we're created to do, and we keep our eyes focused on Jesus. If you ever ran track, you know why this is so important. The fastest way to lose the race is to look to the side. To win the race you just keep your eyes on the finish line. You keep your eyes on the prize. You keep your eyes on Jesus. You run with perseverance.
When someone else wins their race, what do we do? We celebrate them. This does not come naturally, but when we do it, it’s a huge win! We celebrate God's blessings. We cheer them on. We may even learn from them. If they're doing something that's a little bit better, rather than become jealous or envious, we need to ask, "What can I learn from what you did? How can I apply it to my own race?"
Share with the group a time where you learned something from watching someone else’s race.
We don't want to compare with the heart that would ever say, "I'm less than," because their win doesn't bring inner validation to us. Jesus, pleasing him, serving him, is the only thing that does, running with purpose in every single step, purpose in every step.
Go around the group and share a unique purpose, calling or talent you believe God has given you.
Think of an encouraging truth you can use to remind yourself of your own God-given talents and character traits. The next time you catch your mind starting to go down the path of comparison and envy, you'll have a plan to cling to!
After everyone has shared, spend time in prayer thanking God for creating you, that you are His masterpiece. Celebrate your groups’ unique gifts. Confess where you have envied or compared and ask him to help you to stop.