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Human beings have a natural tendency to focus on criticising and judging others, when we really should turn our critical gaze on ourselves and examine what motives we have for our behaviour.
What if I'm not good enough?
Many of us will find ourselves asking that question in some form daily – perhaps even moment by moment. We'll find ourselves looking for the answer to that question even when we're not asking it. Perhaps we gauge how close we are to 'good enough' by likes on Facebook or followers on Twitter. Maybe we look for affirmation from friends or family; teachers or colleagues. And yet, even with plenty of likes and followers, affirmation and praise, the question still seems to follow us everywhere like a hungry mosquito.
At a recent women's retreat we discussed God's idea of perfection and His expectations for us. We soon discovered from the Bible that God's measure of success is very different from what we naturally expect of ourselves. The prophet Micah summed up God's expectations for us: “He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8).
What God calls good will rarely feel good enough by human standards. In fact, it will often look like utter failure.
Jail time is hardly a human measure of success and yet the patriarch Joseph, the prophet Jeremiah, the apostle Peter and the apostle Paul – great men of the Bible – all spent time in jail because they “did justly, loved mercy, and walked humbly with their God.”
Poverty is generally seen as some kind of failure. The Bible itself highlights the lack of respect that poor people receive even from their own friends and neighbours. Proverbs 14:20 says: “The poor man is hated even by his own neighbour, but the rich has many friends.”
And Proverbs 19:4 tells us: “Wealth makes many friends, but the poor is separated from his friend.”
In contrast, Jesus Christ was not only sent to the poor (Isaiah 61:1), but He Himself said He had “nowhere to lay His head” (Matthew 8:20).
Over and over, the standard set by God's word, and the examples of those who were great successes by God's standards, is completely opposite to our human ideas of success. By worldly standards, godly men and women are often failures – they repeatedly sacrifice any hope of achieving fame or fortune for the sake of pleasing God and an eternal reward.
Jesus Christ told His followers: “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal” (Matthew 6:19-20).
The real question isn't whether we are good enough, but whether we are Godly enough.
We may find ourselves sacrificing a job for the sake of the Sabbath, sacrificing money for more time with family, sacrificing friends for the sake of Biblical principles. What looks like failure to the world around us may well be the greatest success of all.