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Why Christians Should Not Make Comparisons

Updated on December 16, 2017
Carola Finch profile image

Carola is a Christian writer and author of several books. She writes about Christian living, the Bible, relationships, and other topics.

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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?”

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Sparks Jealousy

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).

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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.

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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).

Concluding thoughts

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.

References:

The Holy Bible, New International Version
3 Ways to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others, Sharon Martin, PsychCentral
The Hidden Dangers of Comparison, Kelley Givens, CrossWalk
Letting Go of Comparisons, Debbie McDaniel

© 2017 Carola Finch

Comments

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  • denise.w.anderson profile image

    Denise W Anderson 

    2 months ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

    I have been thinking a lot about this issue. I like what you said about the reasons why we compare ourselves to others, the issues with low feelings of self-worth, and especially the fears. I think that when I compare myself to others, it is based on the fear of not being "good enough." As I think back to times when others have made comments to me about how they felt when they compared themselves to me, I thought at the time, "Why not just rejoice with me instead!" Next time I am tempted to compare myself to another, I will turn it around, and rejoice in their success instead!

  • no body profile image

    Robert E Smith 

    19 months ago from Rochester, New York

    I remember as a child noticing the other children whose parents had money buying them toys or other things that I wished I had. The children usually made sure to show everyone that they were favored with these new possessions. I gradually began to see something about those children. The thing that they "shared" with their friends today was discarded and in a box of many other discarded momentary thrills, many of which those children never played with again.

    It's funny how little childhood pains contribute to adult wisdom. I saw how the few things that I had as a child were beloved and I didn't have any box of unused unloved possessions. It's far better, in my opinion, to have fewer things that are prized than many things rejected. I found I am looking for objects that have value now that I'm grown. I'm not looking for the shiny, tinsel that's just for show but I'm looking for objects that are useful to me, things that can help me to keep learning and growing.

    Yes, I know all about covetousness. With constant effort, my coveting monster in the closet is kept at bay. Bob.

  • MsDora profile image

    Dora Weithers 

    19 months ago from The Caribbean

    You give good counsel concerning why we should not compare ourselves with others. We could make better use of our time. "We need to focus on working out our own salvation . . ."

  • Terrielynn1 profile image

    Terrie Lynn 

    19 months ago from Canada

    I love your article. I wish young people could learn this early, it would prevent years of struggle for them. How we treat other all begins with how we see and treat our selfs. One saying I truly love is, you are the only you, you will ever be. So why not be the best you, you can be. Thank you.

  • Carola Finch profile imageAUTHOR

    Carola Finch 

    19 months ago from Ontario, Canada

    Thanks for sharing. I think comparisons are something we all struggle with.

  • nina64 profile image

    Nina L James 

    19 months ago from chicago, Illinois

    Hello, this is an issue that I struggle with daily. I find myself constantly comparing my life to other people. I'm always asking myself am I pretty enough, am I good enough, you know things like that. In 40 years, I've finally come to the conclusion, that I will never be good enough and to focus on the positive aspects of my life. It seems as if society has placed standards of beauty and financial status to the point where people feel as if they can't measure up. For me, I continue to walk with my head high and to live the way God wants me to live. Great hub.

  • lambservant profile image

    Lori Colbo 

    19 months ago from Pacific Northwest

    What a fantastic write on a little dealt with subject. I think women are particularly prone to comparisons. It's common for us to compare our walk with the Lord to others, forgetting He is the standard, not our brothers and sisters. Like you said, focus on the things that really matter. As long as we're comparing ourselves to people rather than God's standard and view of us, we can't become more like Him.

    I laughed so hard at the Joyce Meyer video.

    Great job here and thanks for the reminder not to compare ourselves to others. Blessings to you.

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