Theology Still: Seven Cautions for Christians (#6)

Jeremiah Burroughs was a puritan pastor, a member of the Westminster Assembly, and a prolific writer who worked for both the purity and unity of the church. He was considered the "prince of preachers" a couple hundred years before that other guy got the title. This is one post of a seven part distillation of the main "rules" from Burroughs' sermon on Phil 1:27 preached March 8, 1645. You can find the sermon in Gospel Conversation (Amazon, or WTS Books)

Seven Cautions for Christians #6: Don't Compare Yourself to The Weak, But Find Encouragement in The Strong

"Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ" Phil 1:27

To live a life worthy of the gospel we need to guard ourselves against our tendency to compare ourselves to others, especially those who are in some ways struggling more than we are. The beauty of a Christian life begins to fade when we live by comparison because by doing so we not only establish a wrong measure of our lives, but we also become sluggish in following Christ. We say to ourselves, "Compared to this person I am doing very well!" and we slip into a kind of spiritual laziness. Instead of focusing on those we believe are worse off than we are, we should set before ourselves godly men and women whose lives reflect the brightness and beauty of holiness. We do not set such examples before ourselves for comparison, but for inspiration and encouragement.

"Set before you the examples of the most eminent of those whose [godly life] most glitters. I do not mean those with a mere glittering show, but that glitter which comes from diamonds, gold, and pearls; those who have the excellency of grace shining in their very faces and [lives]. Set them before you, and labor to imitate them, and this will help you in your [walk with Christ].

It is important for our own growth in grace to see Christ formed in others, and to follow their example. This why Paul says, "Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us." A life worthy of the gospel sees the gospel take root and bear fruit in the lives of God's people, and is strengthened by that example.