“The Comparison Trap”
~ To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. (Mathew 25:15) ~
One of the traps that my wife and I have attempted to avoid with Simon and Sophie is comparing their physical, emotional and spiritual developments. Having twins makes avoiding that pitfall even more difficult as both are enrolled in similar activities and in the same class. For the most part, I believe we have been fairly successful at not comparing our kids, mainly because we are intentional about it. However, that has not stopped our children from comparing each other. Their teacher has a program in her class called ‘Snuggle Up and Read’. So each night, the kids snuggle up on the couch and read their stories to us. One night Simon was reading a particularly difficult book to me and Sophie was listening. The story was progressing slowly as Simon worked through the words. Soon, Sophie began to ‘help’ by telling Simon what the words were, despite my efforts to get her to stop. “Dad, this is taking forever,” Sophie complained. “I am a much better reader than Simon!” Defending Simon’s efforts, I told her that her brother’s reading was very good and that she needed to let him finish his story. Simon had other ideas. “Well I am better in sports than you are,” he snapped. And down the rabbit hole we went. It was obvious to me that they had been comparing each other for some time as the back and forth of what they were ‘best’ at was quite detailed and quick-paced. I ended the conversation by sending Sophie upstairs so that I could finish the book with Simon in peace.
I gave very little thought to that exchange until our bible reading a few nights ago when we read the parable of the talents, or as it is titled in the children’s bible, ‘money bags’.
A master leaves on a trip entrusting three of his servants each with a quantity of money and given the charge of putting it to good use. The first servant received 5 bags of money and through hard work managed to earn 5 more. Receiving only 3 bags of money, the second servant went to work and earned 3 more. The third servant, who only received one bag of money, hid it in the ground and did no work. When the
master returned, the first two servants received honour and were welcomed to their master’s table. The third servant, who did nothing to further his master’s interests, was cast from his presence. I explained to Simon and Sophie that everyone is given “a bag of money” from God; this could be money or a special talent or skill. It doesn’t matter how much of it we have, what matters is what we do with it. God want us to use what he has given us to advance His kingdom here on earth, help those in need, and show His love. If we are diligent in using what we have, we will receive the praise of our Father in heaven and be welcomed in His presence regardless of the portion we were given.
After the reading, I reminded them, “God gave each of you special talents as well. They might not be the same, like being a really good reader or a good athlete, but they are equally important. As you get older you will need to learn how to use these gifts to honour God.” “Like reading to little kids, daddy?” questioned Sophie. “Exactly,” I said. “Like teaching kids how to play soccer?” asked Simon. “Yup, that is exactly what we are supposed to do, not compare who has more or is better at something.”
How often do we complain that we don’t have the money or talent that others have? If only I had the ability to ___________ I could make a difference. Yet, how often do we overlook the talents that God has given us and not others. We are responsible for our own ‘bag of money’. How are you using yours?