By Alisha Headley, Crosswalk.com
I wish we didn't live in a world of comparison. Comparison not only steals our joy, as Theodore Roosevelt once said, "comparison is the thief of all joy," but it leaves us in a place of constant inadequacy and unworthiness. We tend to compare when we feel as if we need to 'keep up with the Jones,' which can feel like a constant losing battle as it's impossible to keep up.
We compare our lives to our neighbors, family, or those distant friends on social media who seem to have the perfect spouse, perfect car, perfect house, perfectly well-behaved children, and the perfect body with perfect wardrobes. Some of us don't even know we are comparing, but for some reason, we feel a sense of discontentment after seeing what others have and are doing when we look at their life in comparison to our own lives.
And comparison does just that: it causes discontent and a lack of peace as we always try to measure up. There is no contentment and, therefore, no peace if comparison is present. The Apostle Paul speaks on this in I Timothy 6:6-9 saying, "now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. So, if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content. But those who desire to be rich falling temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lists which drown men into ruin and destruction."
Sadly, comparison is here to stay. It seems to be all around us in the world of constant alerts and notifications on numerous social media platforms where we are constantly updated on what others are doing on a minute-by-minute basis. It feels like a trap we can't seem to navigate our way out of. Some of us base our worth on measuring up to others, and we can't seem to stop comparing every facet of our lives to those of others. The Lord doesn't want us to live our lives in a comparison trap, but rather live in a place of freedom to live the way He's created us to. It's time we dismantle this comparison from our lives that tends to take over at almost every turn we take. Here are five truths to tell yourself and remind yourself of when you fall into the trap of comparison.
1. Truth: You have a very specific purpose designed only for you.
"Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you; Before you were born, I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations." (Jeremiah 1:5)
Many of us compare our lives to other people's callings and career paths they are on. We are so focused on what lane they are driving in that we don't focus on the lane and path the Lord has specifically designed for us. Instead, we compare and envy what other people are doing rather than starting and focusing on the task God created us for.
You see, God formed you personally in your mother's womb. Our call for our life was something thought about before we were even born. This verse says God "knew," "formed," "sanctified, and "ordained," and these are all verbs that illustrate the fact that God is very active in our lives and on a very personal specific detailed level. He has been intimately involved with creating us since birth. Even before our formation in the womb, God "knew" us, employing an active foreknowledge grounded in God's sovereign purposes. Meaning He created us for a purpose. The word "sanctified" means to be set apart for God's special use.
God has a very specific plan for each individual person. You can spend your whole life or many years looking at others' plans for their lives, but it is different from what God has uniquely designed for you. The task he had for Mary, the virgin and the mother of Jesus, was different than the unique task He had for Noah to build an Ark. His task for Abraham was different from the task He had for the Apostle Paul. In the same way, today, in your own life, that task He has called Suzie, your friend, and Jody, that influencer you follow on social media, is God's specific task for them. But God didn't ask you to be her; He asked you to be you. It's up to us to seek God, listen to Him, and then run with the task and torch He has given us and created only for us. Let's remember this truth today when we fall into comparison: God has a very specific purpose designed only for you.
2. Truth: Your sin doesn't make you less than anybody or more unworthy.
"And we know that all things world together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." (Romans 8:28)
Many of us compare and think we don't deserve this or that; therefore, we can't be used for the great purpose God has and we have seen in others' lives. Perhaps we walked away from the Lord for a long time, or we are involved in sin, or come from a family and background that makes us feel like we are less than others or too unworthy ever to be used by God in a big way.
But here's the beauty in the Lord we serve. God actually sent His son for this purpose to this earth years ago: to save the unworthy. He came to uplift the unworthy and used those considered unworthy for significant purposes. He came for the one, not that many. He didn't seek out the wealthy and what others deemed as the qualified. He sought out those rejected from society and considered unworthy through diseases that banned them from society, family origin, or their past sin.
Hear this today: You are not unworthy. Your sin doesn't define you. The calling ahead of you is greater than the offenses behind you. You are not less than anyone and should never compare your past to someone else's. The truth is: God has a very specific purpose for your specific life even with your very specific sin. He promises us in this Scripture that He will use all things for good for His glory. Your mess of a life, He will turn into your message.
When we fall into the trap of comparison, we must remind ourselves that our past doesn't define us. Don't ever think for one second that God won't use you as much as that person you are comparing yourself to because your sin is too big. He will work for good all your bad. The Apostle Paul is an example of this. Paul could have let his past define him, and he could have spent years comparing himself to others with a life that didn't have a past like his. You see, Paul was a murderer. And not only was he a murderer, but he was a murderer of Christians. But God redeemed him, and he received a new identity in Christ; Paul built the church and wrote more than half of the New Testament that we read today. He didn't stay in a place of feeling less than anybody or unworthy because of his past. So, we, too, need to stop comparing ourselves, thinking we are not as good as others or that we don't have a purpose. God has and will use everything that has happened in your life for good with a surrendered and repented heart. Let's remember this truth today when we fall into comparison: Your sin doesn't make you less than anybody or more unworthy.
3. Truth: The season you are in is exactly where you are supposed to be.
"To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven." (Ecclesiastes 3:1)
One common thing we tend to do is compare ourselves to other people's timelines and seasons they are in. Perhaps you want so badly to get married, and all your friends have met their prince charming, but you're still single. Or you're ready for kids, and everyone else around you seem to have kids except you. Maybe others are more advanced in their careers and have built beautiful homes with beautiful cars, and you're still waiting to achieve your first dream job. Or maybe you just thought that at whatever age you are at, you would be doing more, have seen more, and have accomplished so much more. You compare yourself to others because you seem behind and not in the same place in life. Your life feels insignificant compared to others' lives.
It's important to remember the truth in Scripture that every season has a purpose, and every purpose has a season. You have no idea what that person you are comparing yourself to has gone through to get to where they are. Do you ever wonder if maybe God's way of delaying or having you wait isn't because you are left behind but that He is still preparing you and protecting you for what's ahead?
Every season serves a purpose. Jesus Himself didn't start his ministry until he was 30 years old. (Luke 3:23) The Bible doesn't talk a lot about his first 30 years here on earth, but we can speculate that God wasn't ready for Him to do work yet. God was preparing Him for His mission. Kind David was told he was going to be king, and he didn't actually sit on the throne for another fifteen years. (2 Samuel 2:1-5:5) God was preparing Him and arranging his circumstance before he moved into the season of reigning as King.
We need to stop comparing ourselves to other people's stories and timelines and recognize God's sovereignty and protection over us in the current season we are in. He knows exactly when to throw us into the next season. Let's begin to embrace this season and stop rushing to the next one because we see others we desire in those seasons. When we compare ourselves to others and feel left behind, we must tell ourselves this truth: The season we are in is exactly where we are supposed to be.
Lasting Truth: God's opinion is more important than anyone else's.
We live a very short life here on earth in the grand scheme of things. For most of us, it will be under 100 years. But the truth is: we live for eternity with God. What would life look like if we lived our life considering this truth? What would life look like if you stopped chasing and thirsting after what the world finds beautiful, successful, acceptable, and normal but instead thirsted after the living God and relied solely on His opinion over the worlds?
Jesus says in John 4:13-14, "whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life."
We can spend our time here on earth falling into comparison based on what the world says we need. We may chase after things as we compare ourselves to others so that we will feel accepted in this world, but it is a feeling that leaves us still empty and thirsting for more. It's only God's Word, not the world's, that will leave us satisfied and fulfilled with lasting fulfillment. Today, let's remember this lasting truth: God's opinion is more important than anyone else's. His Word is more fulfilling, lasting, and satisfying than the empty, temporary, fading world.