How often do you compare things? Whether it’s people, places or possessions, we all do it and there are times when it’s ok but I believe there are also times when it’s not!
What are some of the ways you compare?
Comparing products to buy
I want to start by saying that, while I will go on to say how comparisons can be unhelpful, I know there will be situations where it can be helpful. I’ve noticed that lots of shopping website now have functionality to allow you to compare one product with another. Doing this can be wise; it is after all important to be good stewards with our money. This is something I think we all become experts in when we are trying to pick our next vacation or buying insurance. So this comparing can help us and hopefully stop us from being wasteful with the resources God has given us.
Comparing your stuff to their’s
I love a gadget and well, I have been on the Apple wagon for sometime. I am however usually at least one generation, if not two, behind when it comes to the iPhone. I’m sure like me you have a friend or two who always seems to get the newest one on the day it comes out. I find myself looking at the new shiny object and I begin to long for one of my own. I can find myself searching the web for offers and information on the new gadget, looking up when I am due my next upgrade.
How does this help me? Well it doesn’t! The day before the new version comes out I’m happy in the knowledge that my phone works. The day after the new one comes out my phone still works the same but it feels different. So what is it about ‘needing’ the new thing? Well, I think we are worried about being left behind and when we start to worry this, however fleetingly, the enemy sneaks in to try and amplify those feelings. The challenge is to be happy with what we have, to be brutally honest with ourselves about what we actually need and what we really can live with out.
Comparing you to them
This is the big one. In fact there are websites that help, and some might even say encourage, us to do this. According to one website Facebook has 1.44 billion active users with a whopping 300 Petabytes of user data stored, which is 300,000,000 gigabytes for those of you like me who didn’t know what a Petabyte was before today. The UK is the country that has the largest percent of its population on Facebook and 24 million people in the UK are active every day!
There are three possible outcomes to comparing yourself to someone; you are going to be better, the same or worse than the other person. I’m still to find a single occasion where anyone has ever decided they are the same and I’m beginning to think it’s impossible. We are, in my experience, always either better or worse. Neither of these outcomes are good; whether you are left with pride or jealously you still won’t be happy about it.
“Comparison is the thief of joy” – Theodore Roosevelt
So hopefully by this point in the blog you are seeing the dangers of comparisons but I want to quickly look at the logistics of comparisons. We don’t live in lab conditions and we don’t approach our comparisons from an unbiased stand point. In fact we often end up selling ourselves short – we are usually our own worst critic. An American pastor, whom I have heard preach a couple of times, puts it really well:
“The reason we struggle with insecurity is we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel” – Steven Furtick
So why do we do it?
We were created by a God who, as Trinity, is the model of perfect relationship. When I hear the passage in Genesis that tells us we are made in his image I am reminded that, like the Trinity, we are made to be relational. That inbuilt nature in all of us makes us long for relationship but our insecurities let us worry about being left behind so we constantly review our progress against others to make sure we are still in the gang.
The thing is, while we are so busy worrying about our worldly relationship and spending all this time comparing and judging each other, we are forgetting the true measure of what is important. If you ask my wife for some of the phrases I say, she would be bound to tell you this one:
“I’m God’s favourite” – me
Which, let’s face it, is true – but I happily share that title with all of you. He sees us all equally and had you been the only who needed saving, Jesus would have still come and died the most horrific death upon the cross for YOU!
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 NIV
So PRAY & ACT! Pray, spend time with the one true judge and feel the loving embrace of a Father who is full of joy that you chose to have a relationship with him. Act; be vigilant of your mind wandering; break the habit of comparison; repent of it when it happens and strive to do it less and less each day.
It’s not easy and you won’t manage it everyday. In fact the inspiration for this post was when I caught myself comparing my daughter, who is 17 months old and is just such a calm, relaxed and easy child, to our daughter who is due in November. I heard myself say to my wife that there is no way her little sister will be was easy as she is. As I said it, it struck me that I was judging my child before she was even out of the womb!
So please take up my challenge of looking at the world with God’s eyes. Ask yourself ‘how will you spread the joy that we are all equal today?’
Thank you for reading and sharing my blog!