Friday, 11 March 2011 10:11

Comparing Yourself to Others

Written by  Brenda Payne
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Where do you feel insecure? How do you derive confidence? What do you use to measure yourself? Where do you find your value? Do you compare yourself to your mom, sister, co-worker or best friend? If so, how do you compare? As women, we tend to measure ourselves against each other. We examine and take note of our similarities and differences on a daily basis and in a myriad of areas. Think about a few areas where women tend to compare themselves to others.


• Physical Appearance
• Talents and Abilities
• Material Possessions
• Husbands
• Children
• Career Advancement

We are so inclined to comparison that even our spiritual growth and service can become an opportunity for comparison! These constant comparisons tempt us to two traps: pride and envy.

The Apostle Paul understood the pull toward comparisons and warned the Galatians of this very thing, “Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other” (Galatians 5:26). A conceited person has an over inflated view of herself. In her pride, she will frustrate others with her superior attitude. She looks down on anyone who does not measure up to her and her standards. She thinks more highly of herself than she ought. Jesus gives us a picture of such a person in the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector, “To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get’” (Luke 18:9-12). This Pharisee knew how to exalt himself; he found fault in others and highlighted his own goodness. Isn’t that exactly what we do? This kind of comparison will undoubtedly leave you feeling good about yourself! But beware; it won’t garner God’s approval. “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 18:13-14.)

Another side of comparison is envy. Simply put, envy is wanting what others have. If pride builds you up, envy tears others down. Envy is rooted in pride, too. You think you know better than God what you need. You refuse to be content with what you have and demand you deserve better. The tenth commandment says, “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor” (Exodus 20:17). Commentator G.I. Williamson writes of this commandment, “…covetousness begins with a dissatisfied heart. It begins when we compare our own situation with that of another who has (or appears to have) more than we do! ‘Take heed’, said Jesus, ‘for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things he possesseth (Luke 12:15). Let a man once become dissatisfied with the portion God has given him, and he will then be tempted with a thousand other sins.” If your comparisons underscore your “have nots” you will fall into the trap of envy.

Comparison is dangerous because the focus is on self! And it is impossible to be focused on self and glorify God! The Apostle Paul said, “If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself” (Galatians 6:3). What is the deception? That we think we are something when, in fact, we are nothing apart from Christ. “For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?” (1 Corinthians 4:7) The only bragging rights we have are in Christ, “But, ‘Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.’ For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends” (2 Corinthians 10:17-18).

It is flat out foolishness to compare ourselves to others. “We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise” (2 Corinthians 10:12). Anytime our focus is on ourselves, to promote us and our own kingdom purposes, we will no longer be about promoting Christ and His Kingdom purposes. We cannot love God and our neighbor if we are comparing ourselves and dealing with pride and envy!

Is there a proper place for comparison? Absolutely. “Each one of you should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, for each one should carry his own load” (Galatians 6:4-5). Compare yourself against yourself and according to the Scriptures. In other words, look at your life and compare how far you have come since Christ rescued you from the dominion of darkness. This should encourage you. Hopefully, you will be able to see measurable growth in your faith and practice. But it should also keep you humble and sober-minded as you consider how far there is to go toward Christ-likeness.

The next time you compare yourself to someone else, notice if you are inflating yourself or deflating others. Remember the old saying, “It’s a full time job to worry about yourself!” Turn your comparison into thanksgiving for what Christ has done for you and the hope of what He has promised to yet accomplish!


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