Avoiding the Comparison Trap
Comparison plays an important role in our everyday experiences. We compare everything from laundry detergent and fast food restaurants, to colleges and retirement plans. Comparison is necessary in evaluating options and making decisions.
However, comparison poses a deeply spiritual challenge when we compare ourselves to the talents, possessions, and appearances of others. I have experienced again and again how comparison divides me from other people, particularly when my focus is on myself. This combination of pride, insecurity, and comparison inevitably puts a wedge between me and the Lord as well.
Have you ever compared yourself to a friend or a stranger? What might begin as an admiring glance turns into a lingering gaze that plants a seed of jealousy. Left unchecked, that small seed grows into a tangled mess of envy and bitterness. Before you know it, you’re struggling with anger and resentment toward someone you may barely even know. But, have you ever thought about to whom that anger is really directed?
Why didn’t you give me musical talent, Lord? I could have praised you better if I could play the piano like him. Why didn’t you make me strong and fast like her? She uses her athletic ability as a platform for the gospel. Don’t you think I could have done that? Why is he so smart? Why is she so beautiful? Why didn’t you make me more like them?
Do you see the discontent in those questions? Do you hear the lack of trust in God, the Creator? You were not meant to be your friend, or the stranger at the airport. You were meant to be you. We are each made in the unique image of God—the same God who made the universe, planets, stars, mountains, oceans, animals, plants, you and me. All things were made for his glory.
That includes people in all varieties of talents, shapes, sizes, and colors. We bear his image in different ways, and our uniqueness should fill us with wonder for the incredible Creator we worship. Our differences should help us delight in one another as well! Just as a symphony orchestra follows a director to create stunning harmonies, we too are beautiful as we follow the Father, uniquely composed and unified for his glory.
Imagine walking into a friend’s home seeing a particularly attractive vase. Is your mind drawn to your friend who picked out the vase, or rather the person who designed and created the vase? Of course, the created object magnifies the creator! You want to know where your friend got the vase, who made it, and if there is a story behind it. As the vase magnifies the designer, you both enjoy the beauty of the designed object.
In the same way, when you admire a friend’s athletic prowess, choose to glorify your friend’s designer. Praise the Lord for your friend’s perseverance in developing their God-given physical gifts. Try focusing on your friend, their love of athletic activity, and how carefully God designed that passion.
As you listen to a friend sing in the praise band at church, instead of harboring jealousy that you’re not on stage, praise the Lord for the gift of song. Thank him for your brothers and sisters who faithfully lead worship. Thank him for music and the privilege it is to praise his name from anywhere, at any time.
Can you see the difference between discontent and praise? When you give praise to God for who he is and how he created his people, you choose to be grateful for the wonderful differences that glorify him. Differences were not meant to make us focus on ourselves. Our unique design should always remind us of an amazing God, who has intentionally gifted each one of us—all for his glory.