Most people tend to have a habit of comparing with others, even when it’s not a competition. Comparison is when you place someone beside someone else for the purpose of emphasizing the differences or showing the similarities. We can become so proficient at this activity that it turns into an unconscious force of habit. One kind of comparison we often observe is when we compare our performance with that of others, causing us to feel smug and proud because our strengths outweigh theirs or, it may cause us to feel threatened, inferior, and smaller because we fail to measure up.
James 3:16 (ESV)
For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.
We have to be careful not to slip into an identity crisis where how great we are at something becomes what defines us. I am guilty of this and I realize that it is merely a cheap lie of the devil to try and cripple us in our walk with God. When we are in a battle to win for our own sake, we turn our focus towards our lives and forget that we have a Savior to help us. Some of us are just unable to accept the success of others and we try to find an area in our lives that is better than the other person so that we will not be seen as lower than him or her; that is when pride has set in and hijacked us, and we are seeking glory for ourselves.
I have come to learn something, and that is when you feel that familiar discouragement – that faith-depleting, courage-sapping self-pity that tells you that you’re a loser, don’t be passive. Pride and Satan are conspiring to have you abort your race. It’s a war. It might feel like a general discouragement, but there’s something specific that’s giving life to this discouragement. Develop the habit of asking your soul questions. “Why are you cast down, O my soul?” (Psalm 42:5). Make yourself put it into words. Be specific, don’t just accept “I don’t do anything well.” Name what it is that you crave for.
As soon as you recognize a desire for self-glory, repent. Do not allow it to pilot your life into the pits. When you give in to pride, it takes control of you and stumbles your spiritual growth because you are in this delusion that you are better than others, so what’s there to learn? Aside from that, it ruins relationships and may just make you an obnoxious person to be with.
Another way that comparison can wreck our lives is through envy. When Joseph dreamed of greatness and told his family about it, they were all unhappy; including his father who loved him very much, how much more then would his brothers who already were envious of him hate him?
Genesis 37:11 (NKJV) tells us,
“And his brothers envied him, but his father kept the matter in mind.”
The envious brothers then threw Joseph into a deep pit and sold him as a slave when the opportunity arose. People may not always understand or appreciate someone else who has great news or an amazing talent but rather, they get jealous. It is good when we have great news, but give glory to God and not brag about what we have achieved. For the talent that you have, don’t draw attention to what you can do, but what God can do through you. Be careful to use it for His glory, not your own.
Pride-fueled jealousy and selfish ambition leave the soul empty and tired. But the promises of God we believe immediately produce the energy of hope. Remember promises like these:
Jesus chose you and appointed you: “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, He may give it to you.” (John 15:16)
God assesses the heart, not outward impressiveness: “The Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)
God made you just the way you are. “For You formed my inward parts; You knitted me together in my mother’s womb.” (Psalm 139:13)
God’s strength is made perfect in your weaknesses. “And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)
There is a reason God makes everyone unique and different from one another. The sooner we appreciate and accept this truth, the deeper we will appreciate and accept one another just as our Maker has designed us. Let us be glad and rejoice in who we are in Christ, for He is our identity.
“Dear Lord Jesus, I thank You that You have made each of us just the way we are. I can’t imagine a world where everyone is exactly the same, oh how undesirable that would be. Let me appreciate all that I am and have and not seek to compare myself with others. Instead let me bring glory to Your Name with my strengths and praise You with them. Do not let pride or envy capture my heart but Lord, let Your love for me be sufficient that I do not turn to things that are lesser and unworthy of my attention. Give me a spirit of joy and obedience so that I do not fall into any trap of the devil and help me to encourage my fellow brothers and sisters who may have stumbled along the way. In the matchless Name of Jesus I pray. Amen.”