Don't Compare Your Life Away
- Thursday, February 05, 2009
I am a highly experienced comparative individual. I have the tendency to compare anything to everything, and with the advancement of technology, I have developed this “skill” and applied it to many areas of my life.
However, this ability is not something that is always favorable in the Lord’s eyes or positive for me as a person.
“Everything is permissible"—but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible"—but not everything is constructive (1 Corinthians 10:23).
Comparison shopping is useful. Tracking and comparing your personal skills and abilities to the past in order to reach higher goals is worthy. However, comparing yourself to others or what others have in a material sense is neither beneficial nor constructive.
I don’t believe I am the only one who possesses this propensity to compare.
- We compare our lives to the lives of those who are also single (or married).
- We compare where we live to where our friends live.
- We compare what we drive to what the person beside us is driving.
- We compare what we wear to what celebrities wear.
We compare how much (or how little) money we have to how much others have.
Why do we (or at least I) do these things?
When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise (2 Corinthians 10:12).
Comparison living isn’t a new way of life. In fact, we can find examples all the way back to the beginning of time.
Adam and Eve compared what they had to what they could have by eating the forbidden fruit (Genesis 3:1-7).
A rich man asked Jesus how to receive eternal life and compared what he had, had to do and had to give up to be perfect and have treasure in heaven (Matthew 19:16-21).
The disciples compared themselves to each other when they asked Jesus, “Which of us is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?” (Matthew 18:1).
We almost innately compare ourselves to one another. We desire what we do not have (and lack appreciation for things we have been blessed with), we judge others for what they possess, and, as a result, we don’t seek to understand God’s specific will for our own lives.
Lack of Contentment
Brewing a lack of contentment is the strategy of every major marketing department. Their goal is to convince us what we currently have is no longer acceptable (or up to date), and what they are trying to sell us is what we need. With the amount of money the average American is in debt and the discontent we seem to have in relationships, in our jobs, and in life itself, they appear to be succeeding.
I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength (Philippians 4:12-13).
Paul shares from a jail cell that true contentment is not dependent upon what we have or don’t have; it comes from our relationship to Jesus. If we compare what we seem to be missing to others who seem to have what we want, we will never be content. As a result, we may never realize the plans the Lord has for us individually nor appreciate the blessings that we have been given thus far.
A consequence of consistently comparing ourselves to those around us is the unfounded judgment of others. We see a material possession, a physical ability or a relationship that we yearn for and we draw conclusions about the person and how they were able to acquire it. We question, “Why them and not me?” We ask, “What did they do to deserve it?” We wonder, “How can we have what they have?”
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