Why Christians Should Not Make Comparisons
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)
We cannot help but compare ourselves to others sometimes. Our society certainly pushes us in that direction. Sports, reality TV shows, and our materialistic world promote the ideas that people or their loved ones, when compared to others, are “better” or “superior.” Parents brag about how much better their athletic children are against their competitors at sports events. Aspiring singers put down their fellow contestants, claiming to be more highly skilled than they. Reality shows thrive on the conflict that comes from people talking trash about other people. Our culture promotes a sense of entitlement.
Negative Effects Of Constant Comparisons
Here a few reasons why we should not constantly be measuring ourselves up others.
Creates Blows to our Self-Esteem
Sometimes comparing ourselves to others can batter our self-image and self-esteem. We see people who prettier, thinner, and richer than us and beat ourselves up. Discouragement and frustration stirs up within us because we feel that we can never measure up. We are discontented with our lot in life. We may even become angry with God. We ask: "Why are other people being blessed while I am not?"
Builds Us up in an Unhealthy Way
Some people deal with feelings of insecurity and low self-esteem by measuring up themselves up against other people. They feel better about themselves after evaluating others because they think they are more attractive, have more money, a more exciting career, or a bigger house than others.
The problem is that it is not always possible to be – or have - the best at everything. We are weak human beings who fail, make mistakes, and often do not "have it all” or even some of “it all.” While we may feel good about ourselves for the moment, we will feel bad again when the people we are judging get the job we wanted or inherit a lot of money.
Pride could be behind us exalting ourselves at the expense of others. Our arrogance encourages us to judge and look down on other people and inflates our ego. Other people may feel our judgement and resent it. They may view us as arrogant stuck-up snobs. Comparisons are more likely erode our self-esteem, amplify our fears, and creates self-doubt. We are more likely to focus on our deficiencies than be built up. We feel discouraged because we are not “good enough” or successful enough.
Stirs Up Discontent
Whenever we measure up other people and their possessions by our own lot, there are always people who are better off than we are. We may look at others and wonder, “Why does that person get to have so much money and a nice house and I don’t?”
Some people become envious of other people when they see what they think is greener grass on the other side. It torments and eats away at their hearts. Jealousy is a dangerous emotion that leads to all kinds of sins such as theft, adultery, and even murder.
Stir up Our Lusts
Covetesness is one of those Old Testament expressions that is rarely heard in the Christian world, but is an important concept for Christians to understand. Coveting is lusting for other people’s mates, servants, and possessions. We are commanded not to covet our neighbor’s wife, servants, or possessions in this, the last of the ten commandments (Exodus 20:17). These cravings can lead us to undermine others and doing physical and emotional harm to get what we crave for ourselves.
Has a Negative Effect on Relationships
Some people feel better about themselves when they put down others. The victims resent this may become angry. No one likes to be judged.
Ways We Can Stop Comparing Ourselves to Others
Discover Why We Feel the Need to Compare
A need to size up other people against ourselves could be signs that we have emotional problems that need to be addressed. This compulsion may signal that we have low self-esteem, feelings of inferiority, and fears that need be addressed.
It could also be a sign that we are puffing ourselves up to make ourselves look good in our own eyes and in the eyes of others. A biblical example of this is the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector (Luke 18:9-14). The Pharisee bragged while praying about how righteous he was and thanked God that he was not like other sinners such as thieves, evildoers, and adulterers, and the tax collector near him. The tax collector humbly prayed for God’s mercy on him, a sinner. The tax collector went home justified, the Pharisee did not.
We need to recognize any pride in us and root it out, or God will no longer hear our prayers. God resists the proud and listens to the humble (James 4:6).
Value yourself as Child of God
God values us as His children. He does not want us to feel like failures. Our success is not measured by how good we look, a great marriage, obedient children, and material possessions. We need to remind ourselves that are His beloved in spite of our faults. It does not matter to Him that our neighbour lost twenty lbs. or bought a beautiful house bigger and nicer than ours. We need to focus on working out our own salvation and not compare ourselves to others (Galatians 6:4).
Focus on Things that Matter
Jesus commanded us love God and love our neighbours as ourselves. Many things that we think are so important such as our appearance, career, marital status, and money are superficial and temporary. As the old saying goes “you can’t take it with you.”
Jesus told us seek His Kingdom first and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33), and blessings will follow. That means living the Christian life. This means pursing a relationship with God through various means such as repentance, forgiving ourselves and others, Bible study, practicing gratitude, meditation, and prayer.
It also involves loving others and esteeming others above ourselves (Philippians 2:3) by encouraging them and helping them when we can (Galatians 6:10). Using a measuring stick redirects our focus from these healthy practices into a direction that can be selfish and prideful.
Cultivate Humility and Contentment
Pride is often a driving force to making comparisons – something that God hates. We may feel entitled to the best of everything and resent people who look better, are richer or more successful than we are. Humility, on the other hand, helps us to accept ourselves as we are and learn to be content with what we have. We should humbly value other people above ourselves instead of being driven by selfish ambition or vain conceit (Philippians 2:3).
Build Positive Relationships with Others
When we compare ourselves to others, this action has a profound negative affects on how we relate to them such as:
- Avoiding others because they trigger feelings of inadequacy, insecurity, and low self-esteem in us
- Not pursuing relationships with certain people because we think inferior to us and not worthy of our attention
- Being rude to others and resenting them because we are jealous of them
- Feeling motivated to undermine others, and take what they have
- Being driven and feel constant pressure to be “better” – prettier, thinner, better off financially, have a more prestigious career, or higher quality possessions
- Not acknowledge and celebrate other people’s successes
- Not encourage people when they are down
- Not helping them when it is in our power to do so
Healthy relationships are built on mutual love and respect. We should be able to rejoice when people are successful and commiserate with them when they go through hard times. We accept people as they are and forgive them if they offend us in some way.
Help and Serve Other People
While Jesus and his disciples were at the last supper, a dispute arose among the disciples about which one of them was the greatest. Jesus said that the greatest person is the one willing to humble themselves and serve others (Luke 23-27).
We should not withhold good from other people when it is in our power to help them (Proverbs 3:27, Hebrews 13:16).
Comparing ourselves to others may make us feel good in the short term, but have a negative impact on us and the people around us in the long haul. People are part of God’s creation and should be treated with dignity and respect, not judgement.
© 2017 Carola Finch