The Curse of Comparison

Comparison shopping is a good thing.  It’s good to compare the prices at different grocery stores before you go shopping.  It’s good to compare the value of different automobiles before you buy one.  It’s good to compare neighborhoods and local school options before you buy a house.  So when is comparison a curse?  It’s a curse when we find ourselves doing one of the following . . . which, by the way, are both things we all do far too often.

1. Comparing ourselves to others

2. Comparing one person to another

Let’s briefly unpack these two curses of comparison and see to what extent we are affected by either one or both.

1. Comparing ourselves to others

When was the last time you did this?  There is a double-edged sword in this curse.  We can compare ourselves to others, in order to shine a spotlight on our imagined superiority and another person’s inferiority.  This was the great sin of the Pharisee in the temple.

Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: “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.”  (Luke 18:10-12)

We can also compare ourselves to others in order to hide ourselves in the shadows of self-doubt and self-deprecation.  This is the proverbial pity party, as we compare ourselves to others (looks, success, status, education, gifts, talents, etc.) and in essence, complain to God that we are not as good, important, or blessed as others. 

2. Comparing one person to another

When was the last time you did this?  Paul talked about the comparison curse to those in the Corinthian church.

Not that we dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who are commending themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding.

(2 Corinthians 10:12)

Parents are often guilty of this, sometimes never realizing the negative and lasting effects.  Parents compare one of their children to another (talents, abilities, gifting, accomplishments, etc.) and in doing so, damage the child’s self-image and destroy the determination and discipline they were ham-fistedly seeking to inspire. 

We must remember that God made everyone different . . . and nobody is perfect.  With that in mind, along with the understanding of the massive amounts of grace God pours into our lives each day, we can stop comparing ourselves to others and comparing one person to another and begin accepting everyone—including ourselves—for who we are . . . right where we are.  

Reader, there is a comparison that is not a curse as it relates to us.  Do you know what it is?  It’s found in the posture of the other person who went up to the temple and was praying alongside the prideful Pharisee. 

But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.

(Luke 18:13-14)

This tax collector was not exhibiting a sense of false humility.  He was simply acknowledging himself for what he really was in the eyes of a Holy and Righteous God: a great sinner in need of an even greater Savior.  The tax collector compared himself against God’s perfect standard and realized how far short he fell, and he cried out for the only One Who could save him: Jesus.  This is the place that will keep our eyes focused on God and not on others.  When we, by God’s grace, find ourselves in this place, the curse of comparison will no longer cripple us.

This is the Gospel.  This is grace for your race.  NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

 

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