Comparison shopping might be a great way to save money, but making comparisons between ourselves and others is a great way to find discouragement. A great deal of the sadness and shame we feel in life comes from making comparisons.Bob makes more money and does less work than I do. Susie has a metabolism that keeps her thin. The Millers went to Europe… again. Eunice’s kids are married and having kids of their own. Pastor John’s church is bigger than mine. Frank just got a new car.
The list of things we use for comparisons could go on and on. For almost all of us, the comparisons put us down. We see ourselves as inferior and the facts support our thinking. The fact that Susie is thin brings shame and discouragement to Mary, who sees herself as heavy. The fact that Bob makes good money is a discouragement to Sam, who struggles to meet the needs of his family. Many good people suffer as they compare themselves with others.
But comparisons kill. They kill your joy in the Lord’s provision. They kill your happiness in the circumstances of your life. They kill your ability to see the blessings around you. They kill your heart.
We were taught to compare. Our parents compared us with other children. Our teachers compared us with other students. We thought, at least, that our future spouse compared us with other interested parties. Our work is compared with the work of others. Our spirituality is even compared to the saints of our local church and of church history.
AND WE NEVER MEASURE UP! We never did and we have come to believe that we never will. It makes us angry and sad and discouraged.
But how do we get out of this? How do you conquer comparisons? Frankly, it isn’t easy. It requires a change of thinking. How do you change your thinking when you are wrong? By telling yourself the truth. So let me share some truth.
The only one you hurt when you compare yourself negatively to others is you.
- You don’t know the whole truth about anyone else and your comparison may be unfounded.
- Often the thing you point to as superior is not as much a blessing as you think.
- The Lord has provided for you and you see that when you take your eyes off others.
- The same Lord who blesses you can bless others according to His will for them.
- There will be a day of judgment and you will not be the judge.
- God is God. He is the only one wise enough to know who needs what and when.
- If the Lord is the source of all good things, then no one is really better than another.
- The Lord accepts you and loves you and never sees you as inferior.
- It doesn’t matter how others see you or how you see yourself, it only matters how God sees you.
Two things happen when we compare. First, our sense of justice is piqued when we feel angry about a comparison. We begin to find reasons why others don’t deserve the blessings we would like to enjoy. We watch for them to fail or fall. That sets us up as antagonists against our friends and our family members. We get hurt and sometimes we hurt them.
Second, we begin to accept negative thoughts about ourselves. We see ourselves as inferior, perhaps less deserving. We come up with reasons why we don’t deserve the blessings we would like to enjoy. We set ourselves up for more failure and discouragement.
But the truth is that we are not able to judge others and should resist being in that position. Instead, we should rejoice when others are blessed, knowing that God loves them too. And the truth is that we cannot even judge ourselves. Is it because we are evil that God withholds certain things from us—or is it because He loves us? Choose to believe His love.
These are just some brief thoughts I have been having about comparisons lately. I am sure there is much more to write. What are your thoughts?