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
My family loves to play board games. They have their favorites, such as Settlers of Catan and Ticket to Ride. Those aren't my particular favorites, so I usually sit out for those, but if they get out the Skip-Bo cards or a word game, I'm in! One game we should never play in our family or with anyone is the Comparison Game.
The Comparison Game is a losing game and not fun at all, but it's one that we've all caught ourselves playing at one time or another. I don't know about you, but in my family, we all like to have fun and win at games! Our games are friendly competitions, but making comparisons are rarely, if ever, friendly, and they always result in some kind of dissatisfaction. When we begin to compare ourselves with someone else, we've already started to lose. We're losing our focus and eventually we'll lose our peace too. When you feel like you're being compared to others, the feeling is the same. No one likes to feel they have been put into involuntary competition with other people.
Whether we are comparing joys or sorrows, it will always be an unfair and useless comparison. No two people are alike, just as no two experiences result in the same outcome. When we allow people to have their own experience without trying to compare ours or anyone else's, we avoid the oneupmanship or dismissive comments that often happen, whether intentional or not. When someone is sharing their suffering, the last thing you should want to do is jump in with how your own suffering is worse, or even better.
Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt was the one who said "Comparison is the thief of joy." It's not a verse in the bible, as many think it is, though there are many examples of it there. It started way at the beginning with Eve believing Satan when he told her to eat of the fruit so she could be like God. Genesis 3:4 "You will not surely die," the serpent said to the woman. 5"For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." She was already comparing herself to God! He was God. She was human. God had already told her not to eat from any tree in the garden. She had one job! That's how crafty Satan is, right? He's got us comparing ourselves to everything we've ever wanted and everyone we've ever wanted to be if he gets his deceptive way. Playing the game of comparison is a losing game. In this way, comparison comes not from God, but from our own pride, and from a desire to be like someone or something else in this world. We will either end up thinking we are better than someone else, or thinking someone is better than us! The result of comparison shows up in jealousy, frustration, hopelessness, envy, and a general sense of dissatisfaction. All of these things are the opposite of peace and acceptance of ourselves and others.
The disciples tried to win the game too.
Luke 22:24-27 24 Also a dispute arose among them as to which of them was considered to be the greatest. 25 Jesus said to them, "The kinds of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. 26 But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. 27 For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.
All Jesus is asking for is one humble servant. Put others above yourselves and there won't be an issue about "who is the greatest," because that isn't the goal! Jesus is the greatest and also the humble servant. He has no need of comparison because it is His humility that He wants them to learn.
Galatians 1:10 Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.
The danger in comparing things and others is that we bring into it our own needs, insecurities, judgments, and pride. When we compare someone else's looks, their life, their occupation, family, etc... we've already started believing who we are and what we have isn't good enough. It's a big fat lie. What God wants us to do is focus on our own lives as far as using the gifts and talents he gave us to accomplish the purpose he has already set inside us. He also wants us to mind our own beeswax. That IS in the bible-1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, 12 so that your daily life will win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody. Why would we waste time comparing ourselves to other people when we could get busy living our own lives to the fullest? We may just realize how much we really love who we are, and when we focus on our own talents, we might be amazed at how much happier we become. Who are we trying to please anyway? God or other people? Spoiler alert, it's God. We can't please other people.
Comparison will either make you feel inferior or superior. Neither honors God. -Craig Groeschel
A person who is busy living their own life and not comparing everything and everyone is also free to authentically love others. It can be challenging to love others when in constant competition or judgment of them. The person who can't celebrate someone's blessings and can only come up with comparisons instead, is a person who will struggle to extend God's love and grace to them. This is why God commanded we love one another. He knew how prone we would be to this natural flesh problem. Being able to see ourselves and those around us for the unique individual path they are on is a gift. While each person's journey takes twists and turns and ups and downs, we should be ready to meet them where they are, and not compare where we think they should be to the end game of another or to our own.
Constantly comparing our bodies, our homes, our financial situations, our cars, our families, our vacation destinations, our jobs, our spirituality, and on and on the endless list goes, might be "human," as some people say, but it's not godly. It's a tactic that can be used by our enemy to drag us down and try to convince us that we aren't already a blessing in God's sight. It's a weapon used by the enemy that can be used to attack others for not being all we think they should be. We were created by God, in His image. Every one of us. The people around our tables. The people at our jobs. Our neighbors. Strangers. The people we scroll on social media. We can go ahead and tirelessly compare ourselves to others, but God is only looking at the one he uniquely created and knows inside and out. Let's look around us with God's eyes. We and they are good. That's all we need to know. Let's help each other keep it going.
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11
The one thing we all have in common is that God created us for His unique purpose. Romans 8:5 Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The more we try to emulate the things of the world, the more we are in danger of losing sight of the unique purpose that God has placed inside of us. We may all be on different journeys, but we are all worthy of being loved and accepted for the unique and special people we are. We were not made to look alike, nor have the same talents, personalities, abilities, body shapes, or occupations and financial statuses. Humans are the ones who place values and limitations on other humans! When we compare ourselves or others, we reveal the condition of our own hearts. There may be some cleaning up in there to do if we're not feeling peace in this area. Everyone God created is precious in His sight, and that means you too.
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Psalm 139:13-14