The Danger of Comparison

  • Her house is cleaner…
  • She runs more and does core exercises every day…
  • She doesn’t let the dust build up in her house…
  • She does more crafts with her kids…
  • She is doing more science with her homeschooling…
  • Her kids have memorized more scripture…
  • She makes time to develop herself and reads more…
  • She actually practices her instrument regularly…
  • Her floors are spotless—she must mop more…
  • She feeds her family less processed foods…
  • Her 5 year old is a better reader than mine…
  • She is more organized in how her kids do chores…
  • She is mentoring more girls than I am…
  • She is more accomplished in her career…

These are the kinds of thoughts I have from time to time. Notice the wide range of comparison. Notice that no human being could actually be good at all of those things, yet I am dissatisfied with myself for any number of them at any particular time. Granted, this is thankfully not my actual state of mind most of the time, because I know and love my Heavenly Father, who made me and gave me gifts and calls me his child. I love being part of a family (the family of God), with a father whose acceptance of me is not based on my performance or measuring up, but rather on His sacrifice and His free gift of mercy and grace.

I once heard that when we compare, it is usually comparing our weaknesses to someone else’s strengths. I have noticed that when I, and other people I know, focus on comparing, it robs us of finding joy in serving with our strengths, and prevents us from forming authentic relationships and close bonds with people. In fact, I have found that relationships immediately gain depth and closeness when I authentically share my struggles, embrace others in their weaknesses, and take opportunities to encourage and appreciate others when I notice their strengths, rather than turn it into a self-focused moment where I am missing out both on encouraging them and on giving God glory for the different gifts He gives different people. Comparison is incredibly selfish and prideful. Comparison is isolating and lonely.

I recently read a book called Simply Tuesday, by Emily P. Freeman, where she encourages us to embrace “smallness” and the “ordinary” in our lives as amazing things to be noticed and enjoyed.

God’s Word also encourages us to live simply, focused on Jesus, and on loving and serving one another. I love the reminder in Galatians 5:13, “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” If we trust in God instead of ourselves for our goodness, our forgiveness, our righteousness—then we have no need to compare. We have no need to try to prove ourselves. Instead, we are free from the trap of pride and comparison and guilt—we are free to love and serve from a place of joy and with a desire to bless.

That is indeed good news! I am so thankful to God for the family and the opportunities he has blessed me with, and I pray each day that, instead of falling into destructive habits that hinder joyful service and obstruct healthy relationships, God will give me strength to walk in these truths, knowing that because of the power of the Gospel, my identity is in Him.

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