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Comparing Apples to Eternity

Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’

Matthew 25:45

Watch Session Two: Why We're Broken

Right now, if you think of your closest friends, who is the smartest? Prettiest? Trendiest? Loudest? Richest? Strongest? Do you find it funny that we know the answer to these questions? Deep down inside of us in our human condition is the need to compare. We love sizing up a room to know where we stand. When it comes to issues of morality, we are no different. Since the beginning of time we have been saying things like, “Well at least I’m not as promiscuous as her.” “Well at least my gossiping isn’t as bad as her alcohol habit.” “At least when I sin no one gets hurt.” Or maybe your inner critic says, “I’ll never have it as together as her. My sins are more disgusting than hers,” or, “I wish my sin was anything other than this.” The problem with comparing our righteousness to others comes when we realize we are using the wrong measuring stick.

how we really measure

What if instead of comparing yourself to others, you tried to compare yourself to God? When we take our eyes off other broken people and place them onto the triune, we see how silly our comparisons were before. Imagine arguing with someone that you might have a millimeter of height on them and then realizing God’s height is higher than the heavens. Imagine trying to compare apples to oranges only to realize you were meant to compare apples to infinity. Do we even have words to quantify and qualify those comparisons? Our sin separates us completely from God, even if we think we have a leg up (or down) on our friends.

stop the lies; look to god

We can list so many reasons why comparison wrecks us. For starters, it robs us of joy, it causes us to commodify humans, it tempts us to think more highly of ourselves than we ought, and it makes us competitors when we are meant to be companions. But, more dangerously, the problem with comparison comes from demanding that we keep our eyes fixed on others and ourselves. Yet Scripture tells us no one is righteous (Romans 3:10). The longer we keep our eyes at earth level, the more destruction we tend to create. Instead, look to the heavens and ask yourself, “How do I measure up to his standard?” The gospel does not say that God comes to save us comparatively, in how we are doing compared to those around us. Instead, the gospel says every person needs total and perfect salvation to overcome our lack of righteousness.

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Daily Question

In what areas of your life do you tend to compare yourself to others? How might God be trying to get you to fix your eyes on him instead?

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Comments (10)

I compare myself to the extent that I see what others (Christians) have in their marriages and what I don’t. Then I realize that I was not patient enough for God and misunderstood what I thought that He was saying. So now, I must stretch further to overcome my wrong choices and lack of patience. I must work harder to be a better wife. God helps me get through each day experiencing my own joy which I previously lost because of my poor choices.

I am CONSTANTLY comparing myself to others. God know I need to work on this!!!Things like… she is smaller than me or I am about her size. She has so many degrees. She gossips. She seems to have it all together. She has it easy. etc…I could go on. I find myself hating judgers but comparing is judging too! Maybe it’s my competitive nature. I want to be my best. THE best! But, honestly, I will never be enough. However, God says I am his child. I don’t need to fight for a spot on his team. There is room for EVERYONE!!! I need to quit comparing myself and just be ME!!!

I compared my self with other people’s Career. Papa would want me to stop comparing my self to others achievements and focus more on him and how he blessing me. Reading the word and praying God is helping me to fix my eyes on him.

I compare myself to other Christians and how on fire they are for God. I always feel like so many of the Christians I know are walking in victory while I’m still trying to just figure it out.

I look at other’s lifestyle and think that I am doing better in church attendance, punctuality at church, giving and maybe praying a little more. How silly is that! And so legalistic! It’s like saying, God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get (Lk 18:11–12). I’m basically saying, “God, thank you that I’m more righteous than that person!” I think God just made me realize that I need to fix my eyes on him instead.

So the first time I read this, I felt like I didn’t compare people much and definitely not as much as the authors wrote about (I mean I haven’t thought who is my prettiest friend since maybe high school). In case you missed it, note: in literally seconds, I did my very own “I’m better than you” thought comparing myself to the authors’ writings. 🤦🏻‍♀️
However, this question made me think deeper. I compare myself to others often with a self-degrading, not-good-enough, negative look upon myself thinking I should do/be better. For instance, I find I compare myself to that parent who never seems to yell, looks put together (maybe it’s the clothes, the hair, the makeup, you name it), and seems to conquer the domesticated life of a SAHM (whereas my house may look like a tornado and I’m never truly caught up on anything). Maybe I’m comparing our family to families who make more money or people who get to go do “all the things” like extracurriculars while our family has to be more reserved with one income. Could it be that I even compare my kids to so-and-so’s kid who seems to always do the right thing right away and without complaining??? Or maybe even I compare my spiritualness or lack thereof with the person who always posts about her gospel conversations or missions activities she’s done with her kids and I feel like our family is just trying to survive daily life.

On the flip-side maybe I’m thinking more highly of myself and have woe-is-me thoughts like how much I’m serving and wearing myself out, but others aren’t stepping up to serve.

It all reminds me of movie tropes such as the downfall of the player focused on her individual competition rather than on the team, but when everyone starts playing as a team, they all win. Or in every movie that has the mean girls, we love to hate those characters and think we’d never be like that. But we all have on some level—even me who thought, “I don’t stoop to the level of cattiness in comparing my friends’ beauty,” when I initially read today’s entry.

All of it, every little bit of comparing shows the deep darkness of our sinful hearts and how destructive comparison is, “robbing of joy.” The continued fixation on self—keeping our eyes on earth level” as the authors so wonderfully put it—cripples us from fixating on the only One worthy to hold such a gaze.

I know He’s getting my attention and trying to turn my eyes TO Him. Daily, my eyes are so much on the things of this world and I know a big contender for my eyes is my phone—Facebook, online shopping, just never being silent and still.

I tend to compare myself in areas where I feel I am lacking. Dwelling on where I fall short and focusing on how someone else seems so well put together. However, there are a few things to keep in mind: The Lord designed us to be one of a kind. We are not the same and what we have to share with the world will be different than the next person. He also gives each of us special gifts. No one gift is more important than another. Rather than focus on what someone else has, we should cultivate our own unique gifts; using what we have to strengthen the body of Christ.
On the other side of that, God provides each of us with the same measure of grace. We are all imperfect humans, requiring assistance from a great Savior. So, while my neighbor may seem so well put together, he/she is also broken, requiring the gift of salvation. Knowing this takes my focus of my lack and others and shifts my sights on what God has for me.

As a new mom, I tend to compare my self to other moms. Am I doing enough? I’m never doing that. I wish I was like her. I’m glad I’m not like her. Etc. The crazy thing is that before I gave birth, I told myself I would never become one of those mom’s who shamed other moms. Which I don’t directly, but I do shame internally. I always feel the Holy Spirit convicting me as I say or think things, to give myself and other moms grace. We’re all doing the best we can. I’m doing the best and only God can give me the direction I need when I’m feeling lost or anxious and the comfort when I need to feel reassured or even loved.

I tend to compare myself in morality, effort, physical attributes, and even style. What’s most shocking about these things is I didn’t even see those tendencies in myself until asked and really illuminated by the Spirit in this devotional. God has been challenging me to a “Kingdom mentality” and asking myself what it would look like to practice the words of John the Baptist to his disciples that “He must become greater and I must become less.” What would it look like if I didn’t live for my own comfort, absorbed in my own fears, needs, pain and challenges? What strikes me as I’m working through this lesson is that type of living is impossible when my focus is consistently on myself and on those around me instead of fixed on God. As it was expressed so succinctly above, “the problem with comparison comes from demanding that we keep our eyes fixed on others and ourselves.” Truth.

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