Recently, a young woman asked us: “Why do you think so many young Christian women these days resist godly advice from other Christian women?”
Now I know many young women who are eager, desperate even, for godly advice. But particularly on the Internet, there seems to be a trend of sometimes labeling godly counsel as legalistic or condemning.
Granted, if you’ve had the unpleasant culinary experience of an extra-biblical opinion shoved down your throat, you may not be asking for another. But more often than not, I wonder if this reaction comes from sinful comparison, a fear of feeling inferior, confusion over how to biblically handle those negative feelings that come from jealousy and envy.
But Jesus’ exhortation in John 21: “What is that to you? You follow me?” is not an encouragement to isolationist Christianity. It does not encourage individualism and pride. Rather, following Christ leads us into greater humility, which draws us deeper into community with other believers who—regardless of their different backgrounds and circumstances—are also trying to follow God.
In fact, Jesus doesn’t say, “Don’t ever look at others. Put your blinders on and look only to me.” No, he says, “Don’t look to others in envy and sinful comparison. But do look to other, godly, Christians to imitate and follow their example.”
In 1 Peter 3 we are told to look to the holy women of the past and consider their way of life. In Titus 2 the younger women are to learn from the older women. Paul says it plainly in 1 Corinthians 11:1: “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.”
These verses do not mean we have to take every suggestion we receive, or that well-intended advice is infallible advice. But a humble heart is on the look out for wherever wisdom can be gleaned. A humble heart has no problem admitting someone has followed farther than we have; it runs to catch up.
So let’s not attempt to cure the pride of sinful comparison with the pride of prickly individualism. Let’s lean in to learn. Let’s press on to know more of Christ, and let’s look around for those God has placed in our lives to teach us how to obey his command: “you follow me.”