Comparison is a sneaky enemy. It may start small, under the guise of admiring a friend’s new job or social finesse. Then a question creeps in: Why don’t I have that?
A coworker receives recognition for a job well done, and you wonder why your work hasn’t been recognized in the same way. Is it not good enough? A friend receives praise for his ministry influence, and you wish that your service would have the same impact or the same attention. Hey, I’m working hard and helping people too! Others are more creative or more articulate or tell better jokes. A friend gets married or has a baby or starts a ministry, and instead of rejoicing, you are sulking.
Maybe, like me, you run through a checklist of your own gifts and achievements to reassure yourself of your own superiority, er, I mean place in the body of Christ, and then fall into self-pity when someone else’s gifts look better than yours. Maybe you judge yourself to be superior, doting on all of your precious contributions to the body, and then hurriedly planning your next service project to make sure you don’t fall in the ranks.
Comparison’s True Nature
What a life-sucking cycle. Though we may momentarily shrug off comparison as a bad habit, in order to effectively fight it we need to recognize its true nature. Comparison is an attitude that says God hasn’t given me enough. He is better to others than he is to me. He is holding out on me, and I deserve more.
Comparison springs from a lie about who God is and what we deserve before him, and it communicates this lie to our own hearts and to others. We have heard this lie before—this was the original lie that Satan told Eve: God is withholding the good gift of knowledge from you . Eve imagined a life with more and decided she should have that, instead of what God had already given her.
Is this not the lie that Satan himself was chasing, in rebelling against God’s power? I deserve more glory. What God has given is not enough for me, so I will take what should be mine.
Comparison grows from the same seed as blasphemy and rebellion against God. With this understanding of comparison’s true nature, it is easy to see that we, as people who trust in God’s sufficiency, should have nothing to do with it.
Comparison opens the door for sabotaging lies to steal our confidence and stymie our courage. Comparison puts up roadblocks along the path to fulfilling our God-given calling by setting an undefined standard of approval and acceptance.
We fear the REJECT stamp will come crashing down with wet ink that mars all of life. We fear that perhaps we’re fatally flawed … as confidence seeps through the holes of insecurity, punctured and punctuated by comparison.
We compare our abilities to someone else’s and come to this conclusion: I could never do it like she does it. And you know what? We were never meant to! God doesn’t need two people just alike. He has uniquely and precisely created you and me with specific gifts and talents to do exactly what He’s called us to do.
David wrote: “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well” (Psalm 139:13-14).
David wasn’t praising God for the way He flung the stars in the night sky, set the spinning earth on its axis or stocked the oceans with sea creatures of every kind. David was marveling at the magnificent masterpiece called David. Me. You. He knew that full well.
You are God’s workmanship. His masterpiece — His grand finale of all creation. Do you know that full well?
God knows our inadequacies and insecurities. He knows what caused them and who caused them. He saw you and me before we even had them. Yet God chose us before we were born for a purpose — to fulfill a plan in a predetermined point in time (Acts 17:26).
It’s time we stop comparing ourselves with others. I know it’s hard … Boy, is it hard! But the measuring stick will get you stuck. God made you to be you! He thinks you’re amazing. And so do I.
Heavenly Father, please forgive me for comparing myself with others rather than praising You for the way You’ve knit me together and gifted me. I know I’m Your workmanship — Your handiwork. Today, I let go of the measuring stick of comparison, and take hold of the way You’ve uniquely fashioned me for Your purposes. In Jesus’ Name, Amen Why do you constantly compare yourself to others?
If you’re like me, you don’t intentionally play the comparison game. It just happens. Before you know it, you’ve sized yourself up, measured someone else by your own standards, or concluded – after observation and the collection of a few facts – that you’re inferior or superior to someone else.
Comparison is an ugly game.
You and I compare ourselves to others out of our insecurity. We hope to feel better about ourselves if we end up ahead. We also compare because of our competitive or perfectionist nature – we have the desire to be right, perfect, or just better than another.
But comparison rarely leads to humility, which pleases God and saves us the stress of constantly running our measuring stick over others in front of us.
1. Remember that you are fearfully and wonderfully made.
Psalm 18:30 tells us God’s ways are “perfect” and Psalm 139:14 tells us that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” Therefore you are God’s unique creation. As you surrender your heart and will to Him, He can mold you and transform you into exactly what He wants you to be. So when you begin to feel inadequate and feel the temptation to compare, quietly whisper a prayer of thanks to God for making you the way you are.
2. Realize we all have different strengths and weaknesses.
I once heard my father jokingly say to someone, “There will always be someone thinner, richer, and better looking, so get used to it.” I realize now that his advice is true. No matter how hard you and I try, someone will always be better at something than we are. So when we start feeling the need to compare, we must recognize our opportunity to practice humility. This, too, can come through a simple prayer: Thank You, Heavenly Father, that in my weakness, You are strong ( 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 ). Help me rely on You and Your strength, rather than seek out someone who appears weaker than me to make myself feel stronger.
3. Choose compliments over comparison.
When you notice a mom who is able to manage her many kids in public better than you can, don’t start thinking of the many reasons she’s probably able to do that (she doesn’t work, she’s rich, she has a husband who dotes on her).
Instead, compliment her on it. I once saw a woman in a store wearing the same top I had… only she looked better in it. She was shorter, thinner, and younger. Rather than dwell on that (and begin to hate her for it) I quickly said “I have that same top, but you look so much better in it. Good job.” The sincere smile on my face killed the self pity that could have arisen in my heart that I’m not younger, thinner or more able to rock that top. Genuinely complimenting others outwardly keeps us from complaining inwardly and cultivating a critical spirit.
4. Rely on God’s opinion rather than the opinion of others.
Our own insecurity often causes us to compare ourselves with others, looking for a way to feel superior. But what if you and I relied on God’s opinion of us before we had a chance to listen to our own, or others’ opinions. If someone is praising a woman who hasn’t done half of what you’ve done, quietly thank God that He sees your heart and actions and He knows the real story. If someone is bragging about her own abilities, don’t start comparing her talents with yours. Instead, quietly whisper “This doesn’t matter, God. Help me to be content with Your evaluation of me over anything else.” Sometimes we have to tell ourselves what to think in order to keep our minds from going in the wrong direction. Not only are you and I fearfully and wonderfully made, but when we are in Christ, He sees us as perfect in Christ. That means we have God’s measuring stick, not our own or that of others to live by.
Please pray with me:
Lord, please help me to find my security in You and Your view of me, not in sizing myself up against others and trying to come out ahead. Give me a humble heart that is focused on pleasing You and help me to remember that apart from Jesus, there is nothing I can do to impress You or anyone else.
Instead of comparing myself to others, help me to compare myself only to Jesus and then rely on Your strength to make me more like Him, not anyone else. In Jesus’ name, Amen.