Have you heard it? Thought it? Done all you could to avoid it?
I can see the devil playing in this phrase like a jungle gym, and stopping to rest in a hammock hung between the two t’s happier than a mom of multiples at nap time. Better.
I heard a form of this phrase recently, and the range and depth of emotions I experienced surprised and exhausted me.
“Of course I don’t think I’m better!” I defended before slumping into a pile of insecurity as I contemplated each and every weakness I could think of to prove that I was not, indeed, “better”. Slowly, then, I crawled to the more sensible admission that a comment I made did have a bit of sinful pride tucked neatly in its pocket. I did a little bit of growing and a whole lot of crying that night.
The truth is that we all have different strengths and different weaknesses. There is nothing wrong with saying that Jimmy is better at baseball than John, or even that Polly possesses more patience than Petunia. But we’re so, so careful, aren’t we, not to give the impression that we think one or the other is just better?
And I know the words of Romans 1:16 “I am not ashamed of the gospel...”, but I kind of do feel ashamed a little when I stand up for my faith and someone else gets the impression that I think I'm "better", so I just won’t say anything. The devil is pretty happy about that.
Or maybe you have a little pride tucked in your pocket too. You probably don’t say the words, but might feel a little puffed up when you look at someone else’s life and feel that you’ve got things a bit more together than they do. Sure, you’re not perfect, but compared to so-and-so...
The devil likes that too.
We miss opportunities to help other people grow when we are afraid that we’ll make them feel as if we believe we are better, and that they should be like us. We also miss opportunities to grow ourselves when we dwell on the idea that someone might think they are “better” than we are, and so we ignore whatever kernel of truth may have helped us grow a little.
This phrase, this concept of someone being “better” than someone else, is a meaningless distraction from the truth in Romans 3.
“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”
Yes, we’ve all got different strengths, but not one of us is any better than anyone else. We are all deserving of death and hell. Helpless and hopeless. Now, you’re probably feeling about how I did on Tuesday night. We better keep reading in Romans.
“and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.“
And just like that we have transcended from our poor, miserable state, just as deserving of death and hell as everyone else, to being covered over with a robe of righteousness. So, stop this game of comparisons, and don’t give the devil a foothold! You’ve been given an amazing gift, a fabulous, flattering, flawless robe of righteousness. To God, who looks at you only through the cross of Christ, you are absolutely perfect. It doesn’t get any better than that.