comparison kills contentment
Updated: Jan 29
By: Lizzie Williams
Comparison kills contentment. This is something that I once heard my pastor say and it has always stuck with me. It’s something that I need to remind myself of daily. We are called many times to be content with what we have in all circumstances (Hebrews 13:5, 1 Timothy 6:6-7, Matthew 6:32-33). After all, everything we have is a gift from God and he can deliver us from any circumstance. But I know that it is so easy to get caught up in comparison, whether it be comparing looks, grades, families, or anything else. Our culture may act like it promotes individuality but upon further inspection we see that’s not true. Our culture is competitive, whether it just be the “who wore it better section” in the magazine or the competition that comes with football season. We put this into practice in our lives, trying to be smarter, or prettier, or more successful, or skinnier, or funnier. We’ve all been scrolling through instagram and said “man, I wish I looked like that.” Or we’ve struggled to congratulate our friend on passing an exam that we completely failed. Stop and think how you see comparison in your life. The issue is that comparison leads us in two directions: pride and/or depression, neither of which are healthy.
I know most of my examples stated how we compare and then feel worse about ourselves, but comparison can also lead to feelings of superiority. Why is this an issue? Because God is very clear that being prideful is a sin. Yes, it’s okay to feel good about who you are or what you’ve done, but if you’re comparing yourself to others and recognizing how you are better than them, then that is a big problem! James 4:6 says that God opposes the proud and Proverbs 11:2 says that pride brings disgrace. Furthermore, we are called to value others above ourselves and in order to value someone above you, you can’t consider them below you (Philippians 2:3). Therefore, be humble and love others. Paul points out that “each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else” (Galatians 6:4).
The second consequence is the crushing feelings of depression, inadequacy, and anxiety. These are at an all time high in our society and I truly believe that comparison is the cause. This is even backed by research which shows that after looking at instagram, individuals rate themselves higher in all 3 of these categories. But I’m here to tell you this: her success, her beauty, her grades do not diminish yours. You can both be successful, beautiful, and intelligent. Why are you letting what she does or what she looks like have power over you? Don’t you know that you are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14)? God took time designing you exactly the way he wanted, you are his masterpiece and he loves you dearly, knowing even the number of hairs on your head (Ephesians 2:10, Luke 12:7). If we look back at Genesis, we see that everything God made was good. Why do you think he would stop that when he created you?
Another issue with comparison is that it causes us to covet, which is a sin, and again leads to those feelings of despair. It’s one of the 10 commandments, that’s how important it is (Exodus 12:17). And we know that God doesn’t make rules without reasons, so I think he knows that coveting will only kill our contentment and make us sad. If it is material things we covet, like clothes or the new iphone, then we should remember that those things are fleeting and that there is more to life than materialism. But maybe it’s deeper than that. Maybe you covet her metabolism or her grades or her ability to sing. Well, God knew what metabolism he was giving you, that was part of your design. Now I’m not saying to let yourself go and then just blame God because our bodies are temples and we are called to take care of them, but I’m saying that we should be happy with what he has given us even if that ultimately is a different body shape. If it’s intelligence or gifts that we covet, I challenge you to stop and look at your gifts instead. We are each given different spiritual gifts. There are the five big ones of apostleship, prophecy, evangelism, shepherding, and teaching. But there are smaller gifts that are equally important, and they may or may not even be considered spiritual. For example, I will admit that I’m not the greatest singer, but when I hear Emily Herring up there leading worship, I wish that could be me. (I mean come on her voice is so beautiful!!!) But, if each one of us were up there leading worship, then who would put together prayer meetings? Or who would organize socials or the mission trip? Or who would be in clubs outside of theta alpha, bringing the good news to the rest of campus? My point here is that we all have important gifts and that should make us happy rather than jealous. We see this in 1 Corinthians 12:15-20 which says: Suppose the foot says, ‘I am not a hand. So I don’t belong to the body.’ By saying this, it cannot stop being part of the body. 16 And suppose the ear says, ‘I am not an eye. So I don’t belong to the body.’ By saying this, it cannot stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, how could it hear? If the whole body were an ear, how could it smell? 18 God has placed each part in the body just as he wanted it to be. 19 If all the parts were the same, how could there be a body? 20 As it is, there are many parts. But there is only one body.”
Therefore, recognize your gift and use it; if you see someone with the same gift, grow together rather than cutting one another down. Know that you are beautiful in the eyes of God and that you are so so loved by God and by your sisters. I challenge you this week to look inward at yourself and at your gifts rather than outward, comparing yourself to others. Start by filling in the sentence below and proclaiming this to yourself throughout the week. I have attached an example.
I (insert name here) always compare my _________ to/with those around me, but I know that God says (insert scripture). Instead of doubting my gifts, I will remember that I have the gift of ____ and I will use it this week. I will also remember that I am loved by God. He does not make mistakes, and he chose to make me.
Example: I, Lizzie, always compare my looks to those around me, but I know God says that I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Instead of doubting my gifts, I will remember that I have the gift of shepherding and I will use it this week. I will also remember that I am loved by God. He does not make mistakes, and he chose to make me.
Have a blessed week!