Part of my exercise routine involves swimming a minimum of 1250 yards twice a week. Often I am in the pool with other swimmers, many of whom I do not really know. By that I mean, that although I usually end up knowing their first names, I don’t have a sense of the context of their lives—their fitness level or how long they have been swimming. They are just familiar faces. Yet, invariably, I end up competing with them—even if it is just in my own mind.
My husband frequently reminds me that I am a very competitive person, despite my claim to the contrary. Thus, I experience delight when I breeze by other swimmers, as we make our way up and down the pool in our own lanes. Yet, I am less than thrilled when a better swimmer makes me feel as though I am not moving at all!
Recently, in the midst of one of these “unofficial competitions” I realized how easy it is to judge ourselves based on others. Should I be content with my actions and behavior based on how superior I am compared to an irresponsible, slothful individual? On the other hand, should I bemoan the sorry state of my existence when others demonstrate greater ability than I possess even though I consider myself above average? Such is the seesaw of life when relativism rules.
These moments of reflection while swimming always seem to bring me back to the sufficiency and consistency of God’s law. When I judge myself based on others (whether I know them or not) I am aiming at a moving target that is difficult to hit. On the other hand, when I use that standard the Scripture tells me Jesus fulfilled perfectly, I have a reliable target.
In life after our conversion, we will experience greater ability to approach the standards of the Living God. This is called sanctification, or the way of holiness. We should always keep in mind that this involves moving in the direction laid out by God in His Word, rather than adjusting His law to suit our preferences and circumstances. Psalm 119 consists of 176 verses, driving home the point that we need not invent or improve upon that which God established from the beginning of the world—His perfect law of liberty.