From the time we can remember, comparison comes quite naturally to us. As school kids we compare our answer sheets with friends to see who has got higher marks. We fight with our mother when our sibling gets the bigger piece of cake. As we grow up, the scenario changes but our attitude remains the same. We tend to compare our marriages, children, physical appearances, job, financial status, house, ministry and so on with others. Comparison is a peril that has come upon the church and society today. If we do not keep a check on our tendency to compare, we are sure to face much discouragement.
One of the most easily deceptive area of comparison is through social media. Following the virtual portrayal of lives cause many people to fall into the trap of comparison leaving them with a craving for the attention and approval of others. It is a fast-spreading epidemic that has to be prevented. As believers, we need to be always aware of the dangers lurking in every corner, when we walk the comparison road. But it is encouraging to know that by God’s grace we can be overcomers and victors.
Comparison steals our joy
Looking around with a pair of comparison glasses will steal our joy. It can make us feel we are not good enough when compared to others, leading to an unhealthy competitive spirit. It often pushes us to focus on people than on God. Thus, we fail to experience true Christian joy.
Comparison leads to discontentment
Comparison snares us into not being satisfied with what God has given us. My four-year-old daughter keeps counting how many clothes her new-born brother receives as gift each time someone visits. It usually leads her to complainthat she is not getting gifts rather than counting the many beautiful clothes that are already present in her wardrobe. Comparison can leave us discontent and it blinds us to the numberless blessings we already enjoy.
Comparison can lead to envy
If not nipped in the bud, comparison can lead to insecurity, inferiority complex and to sinful thoughts like envy and bitterness. Envy occurs when we lack a desired attribute or material enjoyed by another. It can harm our interpersonal relationships and ruin our peace of mind. It is bound to create an ill will towards another person who seem to fare better. We will not be able to rejoice in the well being of others.
Comparison can lead to pride
Sometimes, comparison can lead to a feeling of superioritycomplex and pride. When we understand someone is not faring well enough physically, materially, or spiritually, there is every chance that we may become proud of who and what we are. Thoughts of vain conceit like “I’m not as bad as them” or “he is not as good as me” is highly likely to pop up in our minds. This attitude of pride is alarming. “God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6). In the spiritual realm, this can lead to a destructive self-righteousness.
HOW CAN WE GUARD OURSELVES FROM THIS EVIL?
Know that your identity is in Christ
True identity can be found only in Christ. Many, especially youngsters seek to find their identity in physical appearance (complexion, looks, dressing or style), in abilities or performance. Many are insecure because they measure their value based on the appreciation of friends and peers.
Acknowledge that your identity lies in the fact that you are a blood bought child of God.Accept the circumstances God has allowed you to be in. It does not matter what others think about you. What matters is God’s point of view. 2 Corinthians 10:18 says, “For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.” We should etch within our hearts that we will not search for identity in anyone or anything else other than Christ. It will save us from harmful comparisons and competitions.
Know that each person is differently blessed
God has made each of us differently and we are unique in our own way. He has chosen our appearance, our families, disposition, talents, and abilities. Our spiritual gifts vary. So do our ministries. “All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines” (1 Corinthians 12:11). Celebrate the uniqueness gifted by God. Complement one another instead of comparing and whining.
Know your purpose
God’s purposes are different for each one of us. The key is to seek and understand His plan for you. As believers, we are all different parts of the same body in which Christ is the head. Each organ is inevitable and has a purpose that cannot be fulfilled by another. 1 Corinthians 12:17-21 – “If the whole body were an eye, how could it hear? If the whole body were an ear, how could it smell? God has placed each part in the body just as he wanted it to be. If all the parts were the same, how could there be a body “. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” The head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!”. Be focused on fulfilling God’s purpose for your life. Run the race in the lane marked for you, being satisfied in your calling.
Choose an attitude of gratitude
‘Gratitude is riches. Complaint is poverty’. Be grateful for what you have. Do not focus on the ‘half empty glass’. Count your blessings and it will stir a thankful heart that does not compare. Giving thanks for everything is God’s will for us. It will also help us to be content in out lot. Remember “Godliness with contentment is great gain”(1 Tim. 6:6).
Pray for grace to overcome
When comparison tends to trigger unwanted thoughts in us, bring it captive and obedient to Christ. Arrest envious or prideful thoughts by His grace. Do not entertain toxic thoughts that malign our soul. Pray without ceasing. Ask for grace. Above all, focus on Christ and seek to give Him glory.
We all are different by divine design
Instead of comparing one another, strive to complement one another. Thank God for each other knowing that everything is purely a gift of grace. Learn to appreciate the good in others and try to imbibe the edifying qualities seen in godly people.
Celebrating what God has given to others and leveraging what God has given to you may not come naturally. But if we trust in the Lord, He will help us and it will cause us to praise Him for the diverse ways in which He creates, operates, and leads. Let us pray that God will keep us from the peril of comparison and that we will be truly content, grateful, and joyful in the days ahead.