I remember the first feelings of comparison. It was in my early middle school years when things like sports, girls, and looking good started to matter. Trying to fit in with everyone else was the theme of my life throughout my middle school years. Sure, things were a little different back when I was in middle school: passing a note to your crush during class was our form of texting; we hopped on AIM or MSN after school to talk to all of our friends; we listened to the radio waiting to record a song on a cassette to later be played on our walkman; and when our Nintendo game wasn’t working properly, we would take it out and blow in it to get it back in working order. Through all of these things, I always found myself comparing what I had to others.
But, as we see from Cain and Abel, comparison is nothing new. Jesus’ disciples fell into the comparison trap of figuring out which of them would struggle in the future (John 21:23). Unfortunately, comparison is hard thing to shake and gets more evident as we get older. Granted in our younger years, it was “small” things like having the right clothes or shoes, but as we grow older it’s things like cars, homes, boats, occupations, and the list goes on and on. It’s important to note that comparison indicates that we are not walking by faith or focusing on the blessings that God has entrusted to us, which we are called to use for his glory. Beyond that indication, there are a few reasons why comparison gets us in a bind.
- It can make us feel like we are better than someone else by comparing what we have against what someone else has. We see this comparison trap in Luke 18 where the pharisee compares his righteousness to the tax collector standing next to him. When we compare ourselves, we lie to ourselves about who we are and give ourselves a false identity of who God created us to be.
- On the contrary, comparison can suggest that you will never be good enough or will never have enough talent to accomplish a task, leading us to a low self-esteem. If we believe God’s word is true, specifically in that James 2 provides insight that God does not show favoritism, we must believe that God has given us the ability to accomplish what he has called us to.
One of my favorite quotes about comparison comes from Theodore Roosevelt, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” I believe this is so true in that when we find ourselves comparing who we are and what we have to others, we rob ourselves of the true joy that God is wanting us to experience. God tells us in Isaiah 55:8, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.” In other words, we do not think like God and therefore must rely on his Spirit to help guide us. Pray that God gives you a heart of contentment and that you rely on his Spirit for direction in your family, occupation, and where God has currently placed you.