What’s It To You?

Am I a terrible person because one of the highlights of my week comes after I return my grandkids to their mother’s house early on Sunday afternoon. It’s not that I don’t love the daylights out of them and not that I don’t enjoy their company a good bit of the time. What drives me bonkers is the way that they pick at each other.

One of them specifically has moved into a season of life when he seems to love nothing more than to point out his brothers’ flaws. This Sunday, he exploded when one brother dropped a loose piece of trash on the floor at the church. Then a few minutes later, he was laying into his other brother over some hyper-important detail of a video game.

Although this sort of thing makes me a little bit crazy, I have to note that the behavior is not unique to a preteen boy in Kansas City. Almost universally, people do a better job of seeing the issues with others than they do with seeing their own.

This morning, I was reading over John 21, when I noticed the curious piece at the chapter’s and book’s end. After going through the whole “do you love me?” exchange with Jesus, Peter looks over his shoulder and spies John. “What about him?” he asks.

When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about him?”
“If I want him to remain until I come,” Jesus answered, “what is that to you? As for you, follow me.”–John 21:21-22

“What is that to you?” That could be the most significant question that Jesus ever asks. In fact, in John’s account of things, these are the last recorded words of Jesus before His resurrection. It’s not that John didn’t think that Jesus spoke the Great Commission and related things just before He ascended–after all, John was there–but for his gospel, these are the words that John elected for a closer.

And what profound words they are. Essentially Jesus is asking, “Why are you concerned about his fate? Just follow me.” Let’s apply this to today:

  • Why do you care if your brother drops a piece of paper? You follow me!
  • Why do you care if your brother is wrong about a video game? You follow me!
  • Why do you care if this sister has more talent than you? You follow me!
  • Why do you care if that brother doesn’t stick to his diet? You follow me!

Obviously, Jesus wasn’t calling Peter to apathy. After all, he’d just told Peter to feed the sheep several times. What he was calling Peter to do was set aside that very human tendency toward jealousy and comparison.

Following Jesus, we’ll need to keep our eyes on Him. If we also feed and care for the sheep, then any spare attention we have has just been claimed. If I dedicate myself to those endeavors, the opportunity to covet and compare almost totally disappears.

As for you, follow me. Indeed.


The Failure of False Compare

ScaleHaving recognized that the Bible does not provide any answer to the eternal question, “How much should I weigh,” we have been touring a list of potential sources of answering that question. Having explored the scale, BMI, body fat percentage, and friends, we are yet to encounter a useful source for the secret number. Today, I have a source that will surely lead us to the promised land.

Here’s how to determine your perfect weight. It’s a simple process that will require only a couple of simple tools. (I am assuming that you are male, but this process can be easily adapted to a woman with the substitution of a single tool.) Here’s how to do it.

  1. Weigh yourself on a bathroom scale.
  2. Look at a photo of a person who weighs the ideal weight. I might use this photo.
  3. If you look more fat than this person, then your ideal weight is lower than your current weight. If you look less fat than this person, then your ideal weight should be higher.
  4. Repeat this process until you look like the person in the picture. That is your ideal weight.

Is this not a path to madness? Everyone who reads this will see the folly of determining your ideal weight based on a picture from a magazine, right? Yet isn’t that what a lot of people tend to do? We compare ourselves to some unrealistic, probably airbrushed photo of a swimsuit model, professional athlete, or other incredibly buff person, and then we feel like failures when we can’t achieve their level of buffness.

Why can’t you use one of these beautiful people as your yardstick to the perfect weight?

First, you probably do not have the genetic makeup to achieve that sort of body type. There’s a reason these people wind up on magazine covers. If you can look that great, congratulations, but expecting yourself to look that great is a sure path to disappointment.

Second, even if you do have the genes, you might well not have the time to put in at the gym. As much as you might want well defined ab muscles, I am confident that no one’s ideal weight requires the “six-pack.”

Third, comparing yourself to someone else typically does not lead to good results. It might lead to envy or resentment. It might, if you choose a particularly unchallenging object for comparison, lead to underachievement: “At least I’m not as fat as Bubba!” If you’re going to emulate anyone, it should be Jesus, but we don’t know how much Jesus weighed.

Comparison, my friends, is not the answer, and it has perhaps the most troubling outcomes of any of the sources we have considered yet.