It is one of our most common temptations, and it leads to no good. When we give into it, we are overcome by feelings of inadequacy, envy, and disappointment with God. It keeps us from recognizing God’s blessings and prevents us from receiving more. It can drive us to overwork and causes us to withdraw from close relationships. The biggest problem is that it completely prevents us from enjoying life to the fullest.
The temptation to compare ourselves to others is as old as humanity itself. While it seems to be a childish trait (“he got more than me”), most of us don’t seem to outgrow it as we get older – we just do a better job of hiding it.
We compare ourselves to others in a variety of ways: we judge based on looks and personality, possessions and material goods, family relationships, social status, giftedness, educational and professional achievement, the success of our children, spirituality…and the list goes on. Instead of counting our blessings and being thankful, we look at what other people have and we want it. We are never content. By focusing on a perceived lack, we become dissatisfied with how God has blessed us.
If you really need to compare yourself to others, just imagine what life in Haiti is like these days, or how would it feel to be living in Libya at the moment. We seldom do that kind of comparison; rather, we see people with more than we have and we feel unhappy or unfulfilled. The Bible is pretty clear that we should not go around comparing ourselves with other people. God’s standard is much higher than that. He has given something to everyone and he expects us to be faithful and thankful for what we have. God calls us to be good stewards of all he has entrusted to us.
Galatians 6:4 says, “Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else.”
There will always be someone with more toys and a nicer car than I have. Someone will have a better job or more opportunities than I have. Someone out there has more gifts and talents than I do. If I spend my time wishing I had all those things, then I will miss out on being the person God has called me to be. I am not responsible for the gifts and opportunities I don’t have. I am responsible for what God has entrusted to me so far. And truthfully, most of us are pretty blessed people.
Comparison may be helpful when shopping for the best price, but don’t rate yourself compared to other people. No good ever comes from that.