The Comparison Game

Read: Matthew 18:1-11

Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? (v. 1)

“Am I the fastest runner you’ve ever seen? Am I the strongest kicker? Am I the highest . . . the lowest . . . the best . . . ?” On and on flowed the incessant stream of questions and emphatical superlatives from his tiny, little mouth. His insatiable need to be better than anyone else dominated his thoughts. Life and death were suspended in midair as he awaited the verdict: how did he measure up in comparison to others?

The comparison game is not limited to modern-day children. The disciples of Jesus participated in the same shenanigans more than 2,000 years ago: “Which of us is the greatest?” they asked. In fact, Luke 9 tells the story with added emphasis: they didn’t merely ask, they argued about it (v. 46)!

The deeper meaning behind the question, for both Ben and the disciples, is a matter of personal value and misplaced perception. In begging for affirmation, Ben was really asking: “Am I worthy of love and belonging? If I am better than the others, maybe, just maybe, you’ll have reason enough to love me and keep me.”

Our job as (foster) parents is to teach him that he has intrinsic worth because he is created in the image of God, not because of anything he has accomplished. How? How do we live out this unconditional love for him every day? Jesus tells his disciples that the secret is in the heart of a child. —Tammy DeRuyter

As you pray, ask him to show you that your value is in being made in God’s image!

About the Author

Tammy DeRuyter is a former stockbroker turned student of theology and history. She holds master’s degrees in both from Fuller Theological Seminary and Central Michigan University. Married for more than 25 years to Michael, an ordained RCA pastor, they have three emerging, young adult children ages 20, 21, and 22—the youngest of whom was adopted at 11.