The ride home in the car was restful after our exhaustive trek around the zoo that hot summer day. I glanced in the rearview mirror at my two grandsons who were peacefully sipping their lemonade.
In a grandmotherly attempt to strike up a conversation, I queried, “So, Noah, what was your favorite animal to see today?”
“Grammy,” he said with all the egalitarian clarity that a 3-year-old can muster, “We don’t need to do favorites. We just went to the zoo.” Clearly he had loved the whole experience and didn’t see any need to compare. That ended the discussion but began my consideration of the profundity of his comment.
I pondered the tendency to compare persons, places, and things. To stack them up in order of worthiness. To assign them value in contrast to others. Certainly there is a place for wise evaluation, but I began to realize that many comparisons are downright harmful and that often the most damaging ones go on quietly in thought. We compare ourselves to others and feel either superior or inferior. We worry about our children based on how they stack up to their peers, and this can hinder their progress. We judge people’s social, racial, sexual, and religious status and unwittingly exclude them. And recently, hateful put-downs of teens by other teens have even resulted in deaths.
Then my thoughts turned to the wisdom of Christ Jesus, who counseled, “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment” (John 7:24). Throughout his ministry, the Master demonstrated the power of this righteous judgment. He confronted poverty, contagious disease, deformity, immoral behavior, selfishness, greed, insanity, violent weather, and even death with healing authority. He had all the evidence through the five physical senses to evaluate these situations as hopeless, helpless, dangerous, and evil, but he chose to judge righteously, or to see as God sees. And we know that the effect of his viewing brought harmony, health, and peace in these situations.
Is it possible then that the wisest and most needed evaluation is always to ask, What can I see of God, of good, in this situation? Or better still, What is God seeing right here? Would this do the most for protecting, supporting, governing, relating, and sustaining good for everyone and everything in our world?
One day while I was out for a walk, I learned a little more about “judging righteous judgment.” I was praying about a family member in a difficult situation. At just that moment, a young man who was a friend of the family ran by. He stopped to greet me politely and asked about this family member. “Oh, she’s just fine,” I said in avoidance. But as he ran off, silent tears slid down my cheeks, as I compared what I perceived as his easy life with her very difficult one.
Then thundering into my thoughts came, “There is only one Life, and that is Me. And I feel great about My Life!” I felt this thought was from God. I remembered a loved passage from the Christian Science textbook, in which Mary Baker Eddy says: “Deity was satisfied with His work. How could He be otherwise, since the spiritual creation was the outgrowth, the emanation, of His infinite self-containment and immortal wisdom?” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 519). As I continued on my walk, I was filled with great peace as I considered this self-evaluation of Life, God.
From then on, I began making it a practice when visiting with this family member to look for evidences of God’s goodness shining through the difficult situation – her bed made with a lovely patchwork quilt expressed God’s orderliness and beauty; her unflagging determination to finish college expressed God’s constancy and dominion. And finally one day I realized that I could look at this dear one and really rejoice in her life. It expressed Life’s goodness so clearly and always really had.
Mrs. Eddy expanded upon the healing effect of seeing as divine Love sees when she defined Love as incomparable. She wrote: “Love. What a word! I am in awe before it. Over what worlds on worlds it hath range and is sovereign! the underived, the incomparable, the infinite All of good, the alone God, is Love” (“Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896,” pp. 249-250). In such All-in-allness there is no comparison of relative goodness, only the wholeness, completeness, and all-inclusiveness of Good.
Since my grandson’s comment that day, I’ve been more alert to red-flag moments of comparison. Oh sure, I still have the two most amazing grandsons in the whole world, but it’s because they inspire me to celebrate everything as incomparably amazing and wonderful. I’m going to stop comparing, and get on with enjoying the diversity, wonder, and uniqueness of all of God’s ideas!