The book of Samuel talks about an amazing man who was used by God as the kingdom of Israel was in the midst of huge transition.
Samuel’s mom, in her desire to have a child, made a commitment to give her child up to God after being born. So, when God blessed her with a little boy, she named him Samuel and took him to the temple to serve with the priest Eli.
In the first of the books on Samuel’s life, we see an interesting distinction. In chapter 2, verse 12, there is a description of Eli’s own sons, who were absolutely wicked. They would essentially steal from the sacrifices that were being offered, in order to eat whatever they wanted.
Right after describing their wickedness, in verses 18-21, it says this, “18 But Samuel, though he was only a boy, served the Lord. He wore a linen garment like that of a priest. 19 Each year his mother made a small coat for him and brought it to him when she came with her husband for the sacrifice. 20 Before they returned home, Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife and say, “May the Lord give you other children to take the place of this one she gave to the Lord.” 21 And the Lord gave Hannah three sons and two daughters. Meanwhile, Samuel grew up in the presence of the Lord.” [bold is mine]
I am not normally one to compare one person to another. Well, maybe I am. Just a little.
But, in this story there is a distinction made between Eli’s sons and Samuel. It starts with “But Samuel”, then goes on to explain what was different about Samuel compared to the others.
Normally, when comparisons are made in today’s society, we compare based off of success, talent, intellect, or any other number of categories.
In the description of Samuel’s life above, it compared him to Eli’s sons based off of a different set of requirements.
When talking about Samuel, 2 things stood out: his faithfulness and his service.
He was a young man who committed himself to “serving the Lord” and he was faithful to stay “in the presence of the Lord”.
When you think about how people perceive you to be (especially in comparison to others), what do you normally think of?
As a pastor, I might want people to compare my church size to others.
As a parent, I might want to compare the success of my kids in school to other parent’s kids. Isn’t that why we have all of those “Student of the Month” bumper stickers?
As a leader, I might want to compare the success of my organization to others.
As a communicator, I might want to compare my success in speaking to others.
But, when I dig deep down, I think that the description of Samuel is what I should truly be hoping for if I am ever compared (or not) to others.
When people look at me, I want them to admire my faithfulness and my service.
How about you? Do you ever deal with the world’s way of comparing, knowing that they are empty comparisons?