When Jesus had finished these parables, he moved on from there. Coming to his hometown, he began teaching the people in their synagogue, and they were amazed.
“Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?” they asked. “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? Aren’t all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?”
And they took offense at him.
But Jesus said to them, “Only in his hometown and in his own house is a prophet without honor.” And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith. (Matthew 13:53-58)
“And they took offense at him.” Why? He had just amazed them with his wisdom and his power to do miracles. What’s offensive about that? Jesus was teaching them truth from God’s heart and healing the sick and the lame. Their hearts should have been overflowing with gratitude.
But instead, they took offense. Not because of what He did but because of who He was. He was a “homegrown” celebrity who outshone His friends and neighbors. “How dare He!” “Jesus should have been content being ordinary like the rest of us.” “He’s making us all look bad.” Like crabs in a bucket, they couldn’t be happy about someone else’s success, because it seemed to diminish their own.
Today, we have many examples of “prophets without honor:”
- A high-school or college classmate who becomes a success.
- A co-worker who gets the big promotion.
- A team within the same organization that develops a recognized best practice.
- A sister church or ministry that is experiencing incredible blessings.
- A family member who follows God’s leading in their life down a different path.
We tend to discount these peoples’ success and fulfillment, because we “knew them when…” We don’t like it when people or groups break out of the image we had of them. We feel that we had them locked up tight with our astute evaluation of their character, abilities and potential, and we expect them to stay put. Rather than reconsider our assumptions, we prefer to come up with reasons that explain how what they have achieved cannot be genuine.
I’ve seen so many examples of this. I’m too frequently guilty of it myself, so I think I can call it what it really is: PRIDE. It’s the Sin of Compare-a-Son: judging our own worth in relation to our evaluation of the worth of others. It’s One-Up; One-Down: believing that we can’t be good unless we are better than. And it’s all a lie from the Pit.
Satan loves getting us tied up in these distractions. Our comparisons keep us focused on others rather than on God. They cause us to spend time in self-justification that we could be using to follow God’s unique path for each of us. His will is not in the direction of the other person’s success; it’s on a path He has set out for us individually. We should allow them to be them and us to be us.
God has abundance for us! We don’t have to fear someone else’s success. We should rejoice in it with them and then turn to God in confident expectation:
“Whatcha got for me, God?
I’m ready to be blessed in the specific way you have planned for me!”