Monday, October 7, 2013

No Comparison

We're still in Haggai this week, and I want to pick right up where we left off.

Israel had taken care of their own homes and left God's in ruins. It was symptomatic on how messed up their priorities were, and God sent the prophet Haggai to bring them a word. It was give careful thought to your ways because they are what is messing you up.

He reminded them that they were to build his house.

And Israel obeyed.(You can read all about it in last week's post here.)

We left them on the cusp of their obedience. Twenty-three days after Haggai brought that word, Israel began their work. And they worked for an entire month. During that month, as the temple began to rise, something happened.

Discouragement set in. Why? Because they were playing the comparison game. This had also happened a few years beforehand. See, Israel had actually begun to rebuild the Temple years before. They'd even managed to get the altar built. This all takes place in the book of Ezra, and when that altar took shape, listen to what happened:

Many of the old priests and Levites and family heads, who had seen the former temple, wept aloud when they saw the foundation of this temple being laid...Ezra 3:12

And it wasn't tears of joy. It was comparison, pure and simple. The temple they were rebuilding didn't compare to the one of old (Solomon's Temple), and when opposition mixed in with their discouragement, they gave up. And that's where, years later, Haggai picks up.

Problem is, while they are being obedient and resuming their work, they were also falling back into the same trap. Comparing their works to another time and place and not seeing any fruit rising from their current work. Can't you just hear the rising grumblings of defeat starting back up?

But, oh, the love of God. It is strong and fierce and exactly what they needed.

He doesn't yell at them or chastise their attitudes. And he doesn't leave them in their discouragement. No, this time, he encourages them. He asks them to continue with their obedience, to continue following his word.  Listen:

'Who of you is left who saw this house in its former glory? How does it look to you now? Does it not seem to you like nothing? But now be strong, O Zerubbabel,' declares the Lord. 'Be strong, O Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people of the land,' declares the Lord, 'and work. For I am with you,' declares the Lord Almighty. 'This is what I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt. And my Spirit remains among you. Do not fear.'

God didn't swoop in and fix everything for them, and he certainly didn't tell them this temple was bigger and better than the last--because it wasn't supposed to be. He's doesn't make all things the same, he makes all things unique, and then he uses them. He gave credence to their feelings, then showed them what his amazing plan was. He didn't have to offer this encouragement, this glimpse, but he did. Listen:

In a little while I will once more shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land. I will shake all nations, and the desired of all nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory.

Did you catch that? The desired of all nations: Jesus Christ. He was going to fill this house with the ultimate glory. The very house their hands were building.

While they were playing their comparison game, God was preparing to do amazing things through them. No. They couldn't see it yet, but He was preparing what they thought was meager to be amazing.

So often we step out in obedience and when we don't see immediate results that mirror the person next to us, we want to give up. All the while, God is coaxing us "be strong, and work"...because what seems like a long time to us has only been a blink on his eternal calendar, and he's still preparing the good works he created in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:10). We can't give up short of his plans and purposes for us.

But all too often we compare what our offering is with what another's was and defeat sets in. We need to remember, however, that God doesn't play that game. He takes simple and makes it intricate. He takes small and gives it a huge impact. He doesn't look horizontally across what all his children hold, comparing their offerings. He looks vertically to see where it fits into his kingdom plans.

When our faces are downcast. When we want to give up. He whispers to us, "Be strong. I am with you. Be strong and work, because in a little a little while, I'm going to shake the heavens and the earth through what you are doing."

Today. I encourage you. You may not be seeing progress, but if you are walking in obedience, I promise you--progress is being made in His ultimate plans for you. Hold on. Be strong. And keep working. 


  1. Do not despise the day of small beginnings. Oh how I love this post today, Susan. Way to bring THE Word! Thank you for being obedient!

    1. :) I think about that all the time, Jess. Don't despise it...such an opposite to this world. But his truth typically is.

  2. Oh my goodness SO good, Susan. So good. I think probably out of all the things I struggle with (and there are plenty...I am a human), comparison may be the biggest. Such a good remember today, though, to realign my focus.

    1. Comparison is huge for me. What's amazing is I thought I'd dealt with it then God lit up areas I was still doing it without even realizing--so deeper we go!

  3. I agree completely with Jessica and Melissa! Such an awesome post, Susan -- full of insight and encouragement! Thank you so much for what you've shared here, because I'm guilty of comparing too, and often thinking that what I offer isn't enough or as good as others. But no comparison . . . I like that much better.

    Have a blessed day!

    1. All that insight was His, and I completely needed to hear it myself! Thinking what I have to offer is so meager is one I need to stop doing too. God doesn't measure our offerings, but our hearts. I often think of the women that offered one coin, so small to some, but so huge to God:)

  4. "Be strong and work," is just what I needed to hear this morning. It is so easy to get discouraged.

    I'm so glad you shared this. Thanks!