The Fatal Spirit Of
The Achilles Heel of Prophetic Discipleship
“Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with what is my own? Or is your eye envious because I am generous?” Mt. 20:15
The only comparison allowed in the kingdom of God is comparison against oneself. The kingdom of God functions on an individualized system of justice and reward in which each member is tried on the merits of His own faithfulness and obedience to the Spirit of God against a Father-ordained potential.
This is contrary to the earthly system which is built on a socialized standard of justice. In the socialized system, fairness is determined corporately rather than individually. Statements such as “It is only fair if it is fair for everybody” and “If I do it for you, I have to do it for everyone” are examples of the socialized standard of justice. In this system, rewards are meted out by objective standards to which all are subject, and comparisons are conducted to make sure it is so.
But in the kingdom of God, fairness is determined on a basis of unique personal covenantal appointment between the Lord and each of His followers. In this system, comparison of rewards and positions between and among members is illegal. This is taught by the parable of the vineyard workers (Mt. 20) and is repeatedly demonstrated through Christ’s other lessons to the disciples.
All positions in the kingdom of God are by appointment of the Father over the course of the generations and ages according to His sovereign placement of us in the time continuum (vineyard). We have nothing to say about these placements. We do not know how our placement in time affects what is possible to us in our final position in the kingdom. The only thing we can know is that we have a certain covenanted potential and it is our desire to fulfill that potential, no matter what “position” that potential has the capacity to be revealed as in the manifest kingdom.
Over and over we are taught that our weighting and judgment by the Lord is to be on a unique individual basis of fulfilled personal obedience and achieved personal potential. That is the point of the parable of the talents (Mt. 25). It is the point of the Lord’s word that “I will render to every one of you according to your works.” And it is the point behind Paul’s exhortations that “they who compare themselves with others are not wise” and none of us must “judge another man’s servant.”
Comparison and Competition Vs. Servanthood and Unity
The spirit of comparison gives birth to spiritual competition with others. Spiritual competition is a form of envy. Competition within the disciplehood undercuts the other values that mark the kingdom and cripples ability to live by them and fulfill true Father-ordained potential. Specifically, competition is in direct opposition to servanthood and to unity.
It is impossible to serve those with whom one is competing for kingdom position and relational favor in God’s eyes. It is in turn impossible to maintain a spirit of unity with them. It is impossible to work together with those with whom we feel the need to prove something about the maturity of our spiritual knowledge or the advanced state of our walk with God in relation to those with whom we labor.
Christ exemplified true servanthood and laid the groundwork for true unity in the brotherhood. He was able to do this only by “making Himself of no reputation.” In other words, He gave up all claim to comparative self image, which is what “reputation” is. He stuck to His own course and never left it to look at the course of others. To be sure, He had goals. A “joy” and a “crown” was set before Him to obtain. But He made no reputation within Himself based on that destiny, and never measured His destiny against that of another.
But the disciples did not know how to do this. More than anything, competition was behind their problems as a team. As the Lord’s closest followers, their concept of “greatness” was rooted in their sense of fraternal comparison relative to Him. This is why they argued among themselves who should be “greatest in the kingdom” and continued to approach the Lord regarding their placement relative to Him in contrast with the others. Even after the resurrection, Peter still struggled, asking the Lord, “And what shall this man do?”
But in the kingdom, greatness is not comparatively measured. Greatness does not mean “greater than so-and-so.” To get this across, Jesus told the followers if they would be great, they must be servant to all. Get this. He is not saying that greatness is found through servanthood—as if to say, “if you want to be greater than the others, then serve them.” He is saying, “True greatness—which is non-comparative—is proven by your ability to serve.”
Only the non-comparatively great have the grace to serve others and demonstrate agape unity. Serving does not “make us greater than those who do not serve.” Rather, practicing servanthood proves we are being established in that personal self-standing non-comparative greatness measured only by the Father’s evaluation of us.
The Vineyard Workers and the Elder Brother
Christ directly exposes the comparison spirit in the parable of the vineyard workers. Each worker is hired at a different time and bears a different measure of the day’s labor. Yet each is paid the “same” wage. In the socialized justice system, this is obviously unfair and even illegal. Companies can be shut down for paying different wages for the same work.
But in the individualized system, it is eminently fair and just. The master promises to pay “each” that “which is right.” The wage is individually negotiated without respect to the wage negotiated with another, without regard to a corporate standard regarding the workload. But the comparison spirit in the early workers leads them to envy the later workers who are paid the “same” wage.
In reality, they were not paid the “same” wage. The concept of “sameness” is irrelevant because there is no comparison in the individualized system of reward by which the word “same” applies. Each was simply paid “that” which “each” was “covenanted” with the master. That is the point of the parable.
The Lord wants us to understand the individualized justice system of the kingdom. He especially wants Peter to understand this, as He has just come off telling Peter what Peter will receive as a result of having been faithful to follow him: “You who give up everything for me will receive all this…” In telling Peter this, He does not want to stoke Peter’s flames of comparative justice [“Good, we get all this. The rest of those faithless suckers get nothing!”] So the Lord immediately explains the non-comparative system of reward.
The parable of the prodigal son also provides a striking example of the comparison spirit in the disciple hearted. Like the early workers in the vineyard parable, the elder brother removes his eyes from His Father to compare his faithfulness with this returning prodigal brother. This produces envy and resentment in him. It also undercuts his otherwise stellar performance in service to His Father.
Had he no sense of comparison, the elder brother would not have been offended at the feast thrown for his returned brother, but would have gladly participated in it with His Father and the rest of the servants. He would have realized his brother’s return had no impact on his own standing with his Father.
Comparison Disqualifies Disciples
As just noted, the Lord gives the story of the vineyard workers immediately upon commending Peter for being one who has paid the prices of discipleship He has just outlined. Right between His promise of reward to Peter and his cautionary parable about the vineyard workers, the Lord gives this familiar word: “But many who are first will be last, and the last first.” (Mt. 19:30.) The application of this word is often missed, but it speaks specifically to disciples about the issue of discipleship comparison.
When Jesus says here “the first will be last,” he’s not talking about the Pharisees who hypocritically believe they will be “first” while the sinners are “last.” He’s talking now to the disciples who believe they will be “first” because they have been faithful to “bear the heat of the day” where others who have not been as faithful or suffered as much will be “last.” Jesus is saying that prophetic disciples who compare their faithfulness with those of less faithfulness, and who measure the “maturity of their word” against that of other prophetic disciples will find themselves last in God’s sight.
There are two hurdles to prophetic discipleship. The first is to answer the call to obedient discipleship at all. We know most believers fail this call. The second however is, once we answer the call of absolute surrender, to steadfastly reject comparing our own obedience and maturity of revelation to that of others. In the realm of internet writing and relationship I traverse, this is the greater problem I encounter and must face within myself.
We must especially learn how to deal with the comparison issue before we can trustworthily speak about error and disobedience in the larger church. Comparison is the “log” we must first pull from our own eyes. It is the root essence of the “judging” that is forbidden to us and disqualifies us from the selfless objective “righteous judgment” we are commanded to judge.
The Comparison Spirit and Prophetic Discipleship Today
Comparison still remains the lurking pitfall to faithful discipleship. Disciples are strivers for perfection, as we should be. But our “Achilles heel” is our equal but less recognized struggle with the poison of comparison with the “unfaithful” and our inability to put ourselves at their service.
In discipleship circles, the comparison spirit is so rife that the word “church” itself has essentially become the spiritual equivalent of a “four letter word.” Derogatory pronouncements about “the church—this” and “the church—that” abound, underneath which is that unspoken word, “but we, the faithful ones….the ‘remnant’...are not like that.”
We are also dogged by our pursuit of “spiritual positions” of glory akin to the first disciples. Our endeavor to be part of the “Bride,” or “the manifest sons” or the “144,000” or the “manchild” is in spirit oft no different than the quest of James and John to “sit on Your right hand and on your left.” But the fact is all these positions are by appointment of the Father according to the potential worked out in the appointed. We ultimately do not know to what position we have been appointed.
What we do know is we have a unique potential to achieve, and it is to this alone we must be ultimately faithful—regardless what revelation God gives us on these glorified positions and a desire to attain to them. Our ultimate position will reveal itself in due course. Our pursuit must ultimately be of Him. But if we strive for these positions per se in their own right, we can’t prove ourselves in the servanthood unity by which our potential is truly fulfilled, and whatever our position was to have been may be forfeited.
A Word to My Fellow Disciples
Our lot as disciples is no easier today than it was for the first disciples, even though we have all their lessons to teach us. Their lessons remain as imperative to us as ever. We are not farther from them but closer to them! For as we all close in on Zion’s pinnacle and the Lord’s actual appearing, we are closer to touching each other’s unique courses in Him and can easily interfere with one another rather than learn from one another. We can still yield to those subtle nagging inner comparisons and secret competitions with one another for His approval, His reward, His position. It’s overcoming this challenge that brings us finally into that perfected circle of heavenly eldership.
We must keep pressing on then to learn these lessons even more deeply. Personally, as I get closer to Christ and therefore closer to you in your pursuit of Christ, I want to do so free from comparison and competition with you! I want to prove I can serve you and have unity with you as a fellow pursuer of our Lord’s excellence no matter where you are relative to me on Zion's other slopes of wholesome revelation.
My “greatness” in the Lord’s kingdom is not measured by your “lack of greatness,” the wages for my kingdom labor are not pegged to the wages for your kingdom labor, and the Father’s appointed position for me is not in conflict with yours! Our courses are very unique and personal. We are ascending Zion from different approaches. But we are on the same mountain and the same team.
So as the summit nears, let’s encourage one another in what remains to us each of our races, and overcome the remaining distracting temptations to competitions of maturities among ourselves and comparisons with the “less faithful church.”
New Meadow Neck, Rhode Island, USA
First Love Ministry
- a ministry of Anglemar Fellowship
BACK TO TOP
Page created July 12, 2006 / updated June 4, 2017