BY PASTOR T. O. BANSO
One of the reasons many people, including Christians, do not enjoy living, is the spirit of comparison and competition. When we see those who are doing better than we are, we feel sad instead of celebrating them and rejoicing with them. Not only that this wrong attitude does not transfer their fortune to you, but it also kills what is inside you from finding expression.
What others have accomplished in one area does not stop you from doing what God wants you to do in that same area. Therefore, you don’t have to feel that they’re a threat or a stumbling block to you.
When you feel bitter about somebody’s progress, you actually stifle the things God has put inside you that are supposed to manifest. This explains why the Bible says we should rejoice with them that rejoice and weep with them that weep (Romans 12:15).
I like the introduction of the book of Luke in the Bible. In Luke 1:1-4, Luke, a close associate of Paul (Philemon 24; 2 Timothy 4:11), did not deny that others had written books on the ministry of Jesus Christ. He added that he had carefully investigated everything from the beginning and it seemed good also to him, to write an orderly account for most excellent Theophilus so that he might know the certainty of the things he had been taught. In other words, he was saying that the fact that others had written did not stop him from writing his own based on his own investigation.
That statement is powerful if you understand that Luke, a physician (Colossians 4:14), was a Greek Christian and happened to be the only known Gentile among the authors of the New Testament. He didn’t feel inferior to the rest. In fact, he deployed his educated mind as a physician, to write what has been acknowledged as the most comprehensive of the Gospels, including details left out by other Gospels. Luke also went ahead to write another book, the Acts of the Apostles, addressing it again to Theophilus (Acts 1:1). Theophilus means “lover of God” or “one who loves God.”
Luke did what he had to do, writing these two books, without even mentioning his name throughout. He didn’t write because he wanted to make a name for himself. No. He was faithful to God and to his calling. Today, his books are a blessing to the body of Christ. Luke acknowledged the good things in him.
One thing you can learn from Luke’s attitude is that other people’s lives, progress and success do not stop yours. It takes a secure man to act like this.
The Bible, in Philemon 6, talks about acknowledging every good thing in you in Christ Jesus, and I want to adopt the phrase “Acknowledging the good things in you” from this scripture to teach a principle of life. Acknowledging, used there, means coming into personal knowledge, recognition, and realization. There is a wealth of good things in you, no matter where you are in life now, and no matter what you’ve gone through. You may have issues you’re contending with, but there are good things in you.
Unfortunately, many people allow their situations to describe them to themselves. No, you are not a failure. There is so much good inside you. Good things will come out of your negative experiences. You can rise up today and wipe out the negative picture of yourself that the devil and men have painted on your mind.
You may not be born again, nevertheless, there is a wealth of good things that God has deposited inside you but the prince of this world has blinded your mind to them. You’re blinded by sin. That’s why you feel useless and you’ve given up on yourself and chosen instead to continue to serve the devil. His assignment is to steal, to kill and to destroy (John 10:10). He has perverted what God has put inside you. However, if you’ll turn over your life to Jesus today, your eyes shall be open to the wealth of God’s deposit inside you which has been buried by a life of sin. You must arise now, shine, for your light has come and the glory of the LORD rises upon you (Isaiah 60:1).
Why is it that people find it difficult to acknowledge the wealth of good things in them?
1. Identity crisis. Many people don’t know who they are. Therefore, they can’t live up to who they really are. Such people always allow men and situations to give them the wrong image of who they are, and they start acting like that. Because of that, they don’t become who God wants them to be.
I’ll like to use Paul as an example. After his conversion, he knew who he was. He didn’t wait for people to tell him who he was. When you read the writings of Paul, you’ll always find this phrase or something close to it: Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ. Though he was not one of the original twelve apostles, Paul was not confused about who he was. He said he was an apostle of Jesus Christ.
Read the following scriptures: 1 Corinthians 1:1; 2 Corinthians 1:1; Ephesians 1:1; 1 Timothy 1:1; 2 Timothy 1:1; Titus 1:1.
Paul acknowledged he was an apostle notwithstanding what others thought of him, especially his pre-conversion life as a persecutor of the church. The devil saw this apostleship in him and wanted to destroy it by perverting the good things in him. Glory to God, salvation changed all that!
2. Poor self-image. This can come because of wrong assessments by others, especially superiors and authority figures in people’s lives. Negative words such as “You’re good for nothing”; “It is not people like you …” etc. Destructive words such as these lead to people not appreciating their worth. They accept what people say about them, and don’t appreciate there is something good inside them. You need to reject every wrong word that men have spoken to you about yourself that has conditioned your mind to think poorly of yourself.
The Bible warns critics in the church: “What right do you have to criticize someone else’s servants? Only their Lord can decide if they are doing right, and the Lord will make sure that they do right” (Romans 14:4 CEV). Romans 14:10 says, “Why, then, criticize your brother’s actions, why try to make him look small?” (J. B. Phillips).
Beware of those who want to make you look small while they magnify themselves. Don’t permit them to make you look down on yourself. I love Paul; he didn’t allow anyone to despise him or his ministry. He said, “For I speak to you Gentiles; inasmuch as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry” (Romans 11:13 NKJV). That was not pride. He knew who he was. He was exalting his ministry. Do the same at whatever level you are in life. Don’t let anyone trivialize or ridicule you or your work.
3. Lack of self-confidence rooted in God. This can be because of past failures, past mistakes or negative experiences. There is usually the tendency for people to have little or no confidence in themselves because of what happened to them in the past. They lack the push or the motivation to act again, especially in the enterprise they recorded failure before. They fear a repeat experience. They are too careful to step out; they are crippled. But it is wrong to think that because it happened before it will happen again.
Don’t let the devil immobilize you with fear and a lack of confidence in yourself. Let your self-confidence be rooted in God’s love for you. God has already made you accepted in the beloved (Ephesians 1:6). You’re not a failure because you failed previously.
4. Contempt for self because of comparison. Because some people compare themselves with others and discover that those people are better than they are, they begin to look down on themselves. According to the Bible, when you start comparing yourself with others, you are not wise (2 Corinthians 10:12).
Comparing yourself with others who can never be the same as you in all ways is one of the greatest crimes you can commit against yourself. One sure key to unhappiness in life is engaging in comparison. Comparison is foolishness. Don’t engage in it. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t learn from others. No man is an island. “As iron sharpens iron, so people can improve each other” (Proverbs 27:17 NCV).
5. Rejection by others in the past in an attempt to do something. The rejection of some people in the past by others has negatively affected them and they conclude they have nothing to offer. But that is not true. If you have been rejected before, it may actually be that you were too good for them! You were operating at a level too high for their comprehension!
That they rejected you in one place does not mean they will reject you everywhere else. If you were considered not good for them, there are others who may not see anything wrong with you. I am not advocating mediocrity here. There were writers whose manuscripts were adjudged as not too good for publishing, but the same manuscripts became bestsellers when they were accepted and published by other publishers!
Moses’ rejection in Egypt coupled with the fear of what Pharaoh might do to him affected him so much that he did not consider himself fit to go and deliver the Israelites when God sent him. After all, he had tried it before but was told “who made you a judge and a prince over us” (Exodus 2:14 NKJV). Actually, he was acting prematurely then – it was not yet divine timing for their freedom and his strategy was not God’s strategy.
When God sent Moses forty years later to go and deliver the people in Egypt, he told God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” (Exodus 3:11 NKJV).
Jephthah, though rejected by his brothers, went away from them to develop himself and was begged later to come and deliver them from their enemy, the Ammonites (Judges 11). His gift was needed. He could have gone to commit suicide when all of them rejected him out of envy. However, in spite of his not-too-enviable birth, his mother being a harlot, he was needed and they had to send the elders to beg him to come and deliver them.
6. An authoritarian or coercive leadership that makes people subservient or docile, never using their initiative. A leader who always intimidates the followers to submission and makes them need the leader will never allow them to believe that they’re good at something. They will never be able to acknowledge the good things in them. They’ll always be looking up to the leader for what they ordinarily should be able to do. Therefore, they’ll never discover, develop and maximize their potential.
A leader may be doing this owing to insecurity – he feels threatened by the gifts, abilities and resources that his followers have, especially the leaders under him. Such a leader is not sure of himself.
It could also be a manifestation of the spirit of control in a leader, which is witchcraft. A leader who is a perfectionist can also treat his followers like this. Perfectionism is not the same thing as excellence.
A leader should be positive concerning the abilities of his followers, especially leaders under him. He should practise positive reinforcement and not be a fault-finder. Nobody, including the leader, is a hundred per cent good. If a leader thinks that those under him will not do it well, they may not disappoint his expectation! He will have what he says! They may not do it well. Almost always, people will act in line with your expectation of them.
In Exodus 18:13-25, Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, had to come to his aid and counselled him on how to lead the people introducing to him the management principle of delegated authority or power-decentralization.
What You Should Know
1. You were created good by God. God created man in His own image (Genesis 1:27). You are God’s workmanship. That means God designed you to do good things. Doing good should be the norm rather than an aberration. It is the fall that brought malfunctioning; you were meant to function properly (Ephesians 2:10).
2. There is something good inside you. Because of the fallen nature of man, not everything inside you is good. But you must know there are some good things inside you. Added to this is the fact that after you’re born again, you’re expected to keep going through renewing your mind (Romans 12:2).
God has blessed His children with wonderful gifts which they must use to His glory. “God has given each of you some special abilities; be sure to use them to help each other, passing on to others God’s many kinds of blessings” (1 Peter 4:10 TLB).
3. You have the capacity to do what is good (James 4:17; 3 John 11). God has programmed you to do good but you also have the capacity to do evil depending on the spirit you yield yourself to at any time. Use the capacity to do good that is within you and don’t be influenced to do otherwise.
4. You have the ability to learn and do what is good (Philippians 4:9). You can learn to do good, especially following good examples. However, you can also learn and do what is evil. Learn to do what is good. You can.
5. You are unique. Nobody is like you and you’re like nobody. Therefore, how you do things may be different from how another person does them. You don’t have to try to be another person, though you can learn from so many people. Just be yourself. You’re fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14-18).
6. Avoid inferiority and superiority complexes. Don’t be intimidated by what anyone has or does; don’t be envious. Don’t look down on anybody. Don’t engage in comparison (2 Corinthians 10:12).
7. Don’t be under pressure to copy anyone or impress anybody. You’ll lose your uniqueness and individuality if you do so. Don’t live your life to prove a point to anyone; it is useless and needless.
8. Believe in God and believe in yourself. Don’t let others write you off, they’re not your Maker. God believes in you. That’s why He created you and gave you your life assignment. You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you (Philippians 4:13). Don’t listen to negative and demotivating words of men that seek to make you not value the good things in you. Don’t let them cancel your future.
9. Put your troubles and failures in proper perspective. You’re not a failure because you failed. That you failed does not mean you’ve got nothing to offer. It does not mean you’re good for nothing.
Failure is not the end of the road; it’s just a bus stop on your journey to success. Don’t let it stop you permanently. Extract the necessary lessons from the experience. You’ll have another chance.
Every trouble has a lifespan. Don’t surrender to trouble. Let it bring out the good things inside you. Don’t let trouble change you negatively. In Genesis 39 and 40, Joseph was in trouble (prison), but even in trouble, he acknowledged the good things in him and interpreted dreams for two inmates, the officers of Pharaoh. He had a perfect understanding that prison was a temporary place for him on his way to the realization of his God-given dream. The same gift brought him out of prison to his throne!
The apostle Paul had a positive perspective of his chains and sufferings; rather than holding a pity party, he saw God using his condition to advance the gospel (Philippians 1:12-20; 2 Corinthians 1:8-10; Acts 20:22-24).
10. Recognize and accept those different from you. Being different does not mean that somebody is better than you in everything. Somebody will always be better than you in certain things, just as you’ll always be better than others in certain areas. That’s what obtains among nations of the world, too – comparative advantage. It is nothing strange.
You should not, because somebody is better than you in certain areas, hinder yourself from giving your best in that same area or in other areas. There are some people that it’s exactly a person like you that they’re looking for. If you’re discouraged and become passive, you deny them of the good things in you, which are good enough for them.
We must learn to accept one another, release what is in us and also enjoy what is in others that they’re releasing (Romans 12:4-8).
What to Acknowledge
1. Your spiritual gifts and anointing. Don’t be ignorant of the spiritual gifts and anointing God has given you. Don’t despise them. Identify them and use them maximally, no matter the level at which you are operating now.
Others may be operating at a higher level. Leave them to operate there. God will not ask you to account for the gifts and the anointing He has not given you or the level He has not put you. That does not mean you should be complacent. It also does not mean that you should be comparing yourself with others or be demotivated by the operation of their own gifts and anointing (1 Corinthians 12:1-31; 2 Timothy 1:6-7).
2. The grace of God upon your life. As a child of God, God has graced you to do certain things. God is the one that gives grace and gives it to the humble (1 Peter 5:5). No man chooses for himself. Identify and acknowledge the grace God has given you and let your labour be in the area of your grace. Grace will make you if you deploy labour to the grace God has given you. Paul did not become what he became outside of grace (1 Corinthians 15:10).
There is a saving grace which is for all. There is also the grace that God gives us each person for the performance of certain assignments. Grace is unmerited favour but grace is also the help of God that causes a man to do more than his natural ability (Romans 12:3; 15:15-16; Galatians 2:9). Don’t frustrate the grace God has given you.
3. Your innate abilities and talents. You were born with these abilities and talents. It’s not your fault! God endowed you with them, not because of what you have done or what you have not done. Whether people like you or not, you have been given. God did not ask for their permission before giving you. It’s not because you were qualified or better than others that God gave you the abilities; it’s by divine choice.
Education does not give you these abilities and talents, but education can refine and harness them. What God expects of you is humility in using these abilities. If you use them well, they can actually give you an edge in life; they can reveal you to the world.
There are people that are known today, not because of their education but because they’ve focused on their divine abilities and talents. Good enough, there is no one without divine abilities and talents whether you are born again or not. If you are not born again, the devil will pervert them. The problem is that many people die without discovering them or abusing them because they fail to reconcile with their Maker. Don’t focus on what God has given to others, while you neglect what He has given to you. Stop studying others while you fail to discover yourself!
4. What you have been taught or you have learnt in the Word of God (Philippians 4:9). There are things you’ve been taught in the Word of God either by somebody standing before you or through personal study. These are resources inside you that God expects you to profit with. Don’t live your life as if you’ve learnt nothing. The Bible says you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free (John 8:32).
Don’t waste the investment of God in you through His Word. Anytime you hear the Word of God in church or through reading or listening to tapes, something good is being put inside you, and you’re supposed to be changed to become the Word of God you hear. Your life cannot rise above the quality of the word you’re hearing.
The writer of the book of Hebrews was disappointed in the Jewish Christians because, at the time they were supposed to be teachers of the Word they had been hearing, they needed somebody to be teaching them (Hebrews 5:12). That means they wasted their years of learning. The Word of God in you is a wealth of resources – acknowledge it. Don’t act below your knowledge.
5. What the Holy Spirit has revealed to you and God’s dealings. These are like pearls to you. The Bible says do not cast your pearls before swine (Matthew 7:6). They won’t value it.
You should not trivialize or neglect what the Holy Spirit has revealed to you and the dealings of God in your life. You’re to profit from them. You cannot deny what the Holy Spirit has told you and the dealings of God in your life. Others may not have had the same experience; they could be excused, but you’ll have no excuse. You cannot compare yourself with them because of what has been delivered to you.
6. The knowledge you have acquired by training and discipline through formal and informal education and in the school of life – what life has taught you. There is nothing hidden from God about your life including your mistakes. He knew you were going to make those mistakes. God knew about everything in your path in life – the school you attended, the course you read, the organizations you worked for, the crises you went through. He is working all of them together to achieve His purpose for your life (Romans 8:28).
What have you learnt in life? Paul said he had learnt in whatever state he was to be content, how to be abased and how to abound (Philippians 4:11-12). The New Living Translation puts it thus: “Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little” (Philippians 4:11-12). That was one of the things he learnt in life. Somebody who had not learnt that could not have an advantage over him on that matter. What have you learnt?
There are things God allows us to pass through, some experiences He allows us to have which we may not appreciate now, but later we’ll understand – their blessing will manifest in our lives in future. Don’t waste your experiences, positive or negative. Paul wrote to the Galatians, “Were all your experiences wasted? I hope not!” (Galatians 3:4 NCV).
Don’t despise your training and discipline, especially when they do not contradict or conflict with the Word of God – they are not sinful. But don’t promote them above the Word of God and the Holy Spirit. Subordinate your training to the Word of God and the Holy Spirit.
In Acts 27:9-25, the captain of the ship promoted his training above divine revelation and it looked as if his expert view was right for a period, but for the mercy of the Lord, all of them on board would have perished in the sea because of the storm. The captain and the rest should have listened to Paul’s warning before they set out.
Conclusion: Acknowledge the good things in you. If you don’t, you won’t be able to harness them, deploy them, and maximize them. Therefore, they’ll be wasted, and this is not God’s will for you.
I pray that you will begin from today to acknowledge the good things in you and be a faithful steward in Jesus’ name. “Now that you know these things, God will bless you for doing them” (John 13:17 NLT).
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit that you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto You today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and God raised Him on the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank You, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like a palm tree and grow like a cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.
T. O. Banso is the President of Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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