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Sympathy Competition

Yesterday I encountered a former colleague I hadn't seen for some time.  After our initial greetings, we each asked the other how he was doing.  Suddenly it was as if a great competition had begun.  We took turns enumerating all our woes, everything from health problems to money problems.  Whatever one of us was suffering, the other had it worse.

Our time together finally ran out.  Before parting I started to invite this man to a special meeting at my church that week.  But I couldn't do it.  The words stuck in my throat, and I suddenly felt condemnation.

I knew that this man had no personal faith.  I, in turn, have the wonderful light of Jesus Christ in my life.  Faith and joy should have been evident in my words and actions, showing this man that I have something special that he needs. Instead, I had complained bitterly about my own state and offered him no compassion.  I had traded opportunity for sympathy.

I chose to greedily gather what I could of someone's pity and then leave him to grope in darkness.  Too late, I realized that I did not have to focus on my woes; I have Christ!  I could have presented Christ's light to him.

~ Jean-Luc James
Tennessee, U.S.A.