I caught myself.  I was thinking jealous thoughts toward fellow believers, who are enjoying blessings I have sought from God for a decade.  “What makes them so special?” the ugly thoughts began, and went on to list the ways I am clearly more deserving. Later, in prayer, I heard the Lord ask, “What makes you so special?”

His tone was not like my own, and I immediately understood the correction.  For a month before He spoke, the book of Genesis had been reminding me of how messed up the patriarchs and their families were – deceivers, sexually immoral, terrible spouses and unjust parents.  The story of Israel is a vivid illustration of the fact that God chooses and blesses not because of who we are, but because of who He is (see Deuteronomy 7:6-8). As author Tullian Tchividian put it, “One-way love [aka divine grace] has nothing to do with the beloved… It has to do with the one doing the loving.”

It was not that the objects of my jealousy had done something unique to make God smile on them, or that I had not.  I do not deserve blessings because of outward achievements, and I am not denied them because of my flaws. Praise the Lord – I receive them because I belong to a Father who always gives good gifts (Matthew 7:9-11).

It is not a competition when the Lord can pour from His limitless resources to one without creating any scarcity for another. So I am freed from haughty entitlement when I do well, and from the dread of comparison when I stumble.  He will give me what is best for me at the proper time (Psalm 145). What do I have that I did not receive from His hand (1 Corinthians 4:7)? I am not special, just loved.

“Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you… God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important. As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God… Christ made us right with God; he made us pure and holy, and he freed us from sin. Therefore, as the Scriptures say, ‘If you want to boast, boast only about the LORD,’” (1 Corinthians 1:26-31, NLT).