Comparisons (Part 1)

By DeLano Sheffield

May 29, 2024

Scripture — John 21:15-22 (NRSV)

Peter turned around and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them. (This was the disciple who had leaned back against Jesus’ chest at the meal and asked, “Lord, who is the one who is going to betray you?”) So when Peter saw him, he asked Jesus, “Lord, what about him?” Jesus replied, “If I want him to live until I come back, what concern is that of yours? You follow me!”


Jesus balanced the equation for Peter and refocused him on what it means to follow Jesus. The comparison should be between who Jesus is and how far we are off from how he made us.


It is human nature to compare things. We recognize the nature and value of it in the most ordinary places, such as the grocery store. I think it was through differential equations that I really began to recognize how much math is about comparison. That was probably about the time I began to compare my journey in the school of engineering to the path of others.

Comparisons can be beneficial. If you are buying a large ticket item, it is financially beneficial to price match another store for a wiser deal. I’m constantly comparing traffic routes and seeing what will give me the most right turns and least stops.

The place where comparisons have the potential to become a problem is when we compare ourselves to others. It is quite possible to find inspiration in the life of someone else. But when the success or failures of others are more alive than your own experience it is quite possible to miss the better comparison.

John 21:15-19 recounted the story of Jesus realigning Peter to what it means to be a disciple. It was precipitated by Peter’s three denials of knowing Jesus (John 18:15-27). The consequences were heavier, but if you compare the incident to previous conversations, there were some similar characteristics, such as Peter’s brash presumptuous nature and his bold assertions that were often incorrect. Jesus rebuked Peter, even in one case so seriously he alluded to Peter acting as Satan (Matt 16:23). Jesus forgave and reminded Peter to whom he belonged. In the John 21 text, Jesus fed the disciples (John 21:1-14) and then asked Peter three times “Do you love me.”

Jesus balanced the equation for Peter and refocused him on what it means to follow Jesus. The comparison should be between who Jesus is and how far we are off from how he made us. Jesus probed into the inner recesses of Peter’s heart to derive the kind of humility that will bring about service. If you love him, you’ll serve others (John 21:15b, 16b, 17b). If you love Jesus you’ll acknowledge that He knows all things (John 21:17.) If you love God, you know your love doesn’t compare to God’s (1 John 4:19). And when you see that clearly it should impact how you make comparisons.


What are the results of Jesus asking the question three times versus only once?

Why does a person need love to serve, feed, and shepherd?


How has comparison got you in trouble? Think about the times when your comparisons have affected your leadership. What questions did God ask you?


God, I am so grateful for you balancing our lives by grace. Remind us to remember each story of mercy in our lives and to find gratitude when we look at the world. Amen.

Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the High Calling archive, hosted by the unique website of our partners, the Theology of Work Project. Reflection on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: How to Beat Back the Cold.

DeLano Sheffield

Author & Business Resource Specialist

DeLano J. Sheffield is the Business Resource Specialist for Goodwill of MoKan where he connects to people on the fringes, training them to reach their full potential through learning and the power of work; he also is on the frontlines of the advances of the fourth industrial revolution and coa...

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Comments (1)

  1. Lonetta Key

    May 30, 2024

    11:27 am

    Thank you again Delano for another insightful devotion. It is so full of truth and really spoke to me. I always find your devotionals so helpful. I still remember the one where you spoke about the soltuion to being left in the rubble when everyone else has moved on. “I wait for you and my soul waits for you. And in your word do I put my trust.” It has helped and continues to help through the storms of life. God bless you.

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