“Keeping up with the Jones.” I know that generally this phrase means trying to maintain a certain material lifestyle based on the lifestyle of those around us. Usually when people do this they accrue massive debt and live way beyond their means, thereby making their end worse than their beginning. My question is does this phrase also apply, and have the same connotations, when used about our spiritual life? What if we tried to out “holy” our brothers and sisters? What if we tried to out pray them? Out worship them? Out give them? Does the reason that we are doing right matter? Does “fake it until you make it” really apply? So if your brother fasts once a week and you decide, “hey I am going to fast twice a week” - will that fast be honored? If your sister wears ¾ length sleeves and you decide that you will wear long sleeves – will it count in the end?
The Bible says it is not wise to compare ourselves amongst ourselves (II Corinthians 10:12-13) but to measure ourselves against the measure of God. Though we all have the same plan of salvation and there are certain tenets that we all must abide by, the word of God say that we must work out our own salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12). “Working out your own salvation” does not give us permission to be lenient or lax in our holiness, prayer life, or assembling of ourselves together. It is merely finding the path that God wants you to walk. That could be anything from obeying his voice about what you talk about to obeying him about moving to another state/country? Does he want you to fast once a week or, because of your physical condition, fast a meal or some activity? The path we walk with our Lord is a very personal path. He made us each unique and we are at different places on our journey. I feel that I have just started my journey. There are many people that are much further along than I am but I cannot compare myself to them because perhaps I don’t “get” things as quickly as they do or my spiritual sensitivity isn’t as fine-tuned. We just have to obey God’s word and do what we know to be right.
So my questions to myself are: Do I worship for the right reason? Do I pray for the right reason? Do I live a certain way for the right reason? Do I pray and worship privately as fervently as when others can see me? Or is my reasoning to be seen of man or to “keep up with the Jones?” I think it is important that I take inventory of my heart and intentions and do the right things for the right reasons.