Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me. John 21:22
My father often said to me “you worry about yourself and let me worry about your brother.” That is not something easy for a child to understand, and yet even most adults seem to struggle with this concept. I have often heard my heavenly Father speak similarly to me. I need to be reminded that I am not responsible for what my brother does, but I am responsible for how I respond to God’s calling on me.
Scripture is pretty clear about the individuality of God’s work. While we are certainly one body in Christ, and a part of the family of God, each one of us has a responsibility for how we respond to God’s Word and to the working of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
Jesus spoke to Peter to call him to feed His sheep. Peter got caught up considering another disciple and Jesus spoke to him, “what is that to thee? follow thou me.” Our natural tendency is to look around at others and compare ourselves to them. Whether that be, “I’m so much better than so and so” or “Why should I follow God’s Word when so and so doesn’t and they seem to get away with it.”
God is not working to make us like so and so, He wants to work in your life and in my life to make us each like Jesus. My desire should not be to “get away with it like so and so”, it should be to be changed from glory to glory in the image of Jesus.
Paul realized this important concept and was careful to not compare himself with others. “For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.” 2Corinthians 10:12
We also would be wise to realize that God wants to work individually in our lives as well and allow that work to proceed. Regardless of who is watching and what others are doing, we can “work out our salvation with fear and trembling” Philippians 2:12. This does not mean that we work for our salvation or for our sanctification, but it puts for an individual responsibility for the work that needs to be done in our lives. The very next verse makes it very clear that God is the one that does the work.
In the third chapter of Philippians, Paul speaks clearly about his personal, individual desire to become more like Jesus and to win the prize of the high calling, which is Jesus Himself. While this is intended to call to each of us, Paul was set for himself to pursue God’s best.
Often we want to make others change their lives, and surely this is a good desire, but we must realize that we are not able to change others or to make them want to change. However, if we are allowing God to work in our lives, then others will see and be encouraged. But, they must make the choice themselves to pursue God’s best in their life.
What is that to you? You follow me. That is the call from Jesus.