Focus Matters

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John 21:20-22
20 Peter turned around and saw behind them the disciple Jesus loved—the one who had leaned over to Jesus during supper and asked, “Lord, who will betray you?” 21 Peter asked Jesus, “What about him, Lord?”
22 Jesus replied, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? As for you, follow me.”

I love that the disciples were real men who struggled with real things. I know I can relate to them, and I’m sure you can too. In John 21, we see Jesus’s disciples having an interaction where they are comparing themselves with each other! I love this because we can all be a little competitive too.

Now right before this conversation, Peter has an interaction with Jesus where Jesus asks Peter if he loves Him. In fact, Jesus asks him three times. By the third time, Peter starts to feel a little nervous on the inside wondering, “Why does Jesus not know that I love Him?” He walks away with an internal dialogue about himself - which all of us do when something is challenged within us; we walk away, self-assessing and self-processing in different ways.

I think the most fascinating thing happens in the very next part of scripture. The part where it says Peter turns around and looks at the disciple Jesus loved, AKA John. Can I just say right here that where you put your eyes, and where you focus, matters! When you are having an internal dialogue there is a tendency to look externally at how you could get better. “What is everybody else doing? What can I be doing to get better?” This is exactly what Peter is doing with John. “Well, what about John. He loves John. What’s John doing that I could be doing?” This is how Peter begins to self-evaluate, and this is the start of comparison.

Are you setting yourself up against other people like Peter did with John? Stacking yourself against them, and wondering what it is about them that you don’t have and what it is about yourself that you have that they don’t.

I like how Peter said, “What about him, Lord?” It stands out to me, because I hear that a lot in my household from my girls.

“But what about my sister, Mom?”

When we grow up we still play that game. “I know what I’m doing, but God have you seen what they are doing?”

We begin to play that comparison game.

Here’s the reality: to compare our success with that of others is a dangerous way to judge the quality and value of our lives. We begin to devalue ourselves when we compare ourselves to others in our world.

Sometimes we can look at the things God has asked us to do and feel like they are too small or insignificant compared to what other people are doing, but we need to understand that God has asked something different from them.

A better question is, what has He asked YOU to do?

Jesus’s response to Peter clearly shows us that comparison is a dead end; you’re not going to get anywhere with it. You need to focus on you. With this, Jesus encourages us to not look for our value in comparison but to look for our value in Him alone.

- Additional Scriptures: Galatians 1:10 and 6:4

1. What or who are your eyes focused on right now?
2. How is it affecting how you value yourself?
3. What practical steps can you take to focus on your value in Jesus and the unique promise on your life rather than comparing yourself to others and their promise?

Dear God,

Thank you for giving me the motivation to want to honor and impress You. Help me in my struggles with comparison. Allow me to know in my spirit that where I can find my true value and true worth is only in You and what You have called only me to do. Keep my eyes focused on You and the purpose You have given me.

In Jesus’s Name,