If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, for each one should carry his own load. (Galatians 6:3-5)
‘Comparisons are odorous,’ wrote William Shakespeare in ‘Much ado about nothing’, making a pun on the more usual saying ‘comparisons are odious’. Clearly he thought that comparisons just stank! But falling into comparing ourselves with others is so easy these days, isn’t it? After all, advertisements constantly provoke us to do it. ‘Are you really happy that you’re looking your best? Just see how this famous person looks when wearing this!’
The trouble is, this then spills over into spiritual areas of our life too, and we start to fall into making comparisons here too. Why did God answer their prayer and not mine? Why can they afford a nicer house and car than we can? Why is it that they can go abroad every year for a holiday and we can’t? In short, why does God seem to be blessing them more than us? And before long, we feel completely ‘hard done by’.
While we would never acknowledge it, of course, such questions are fundamental challenges to God; because when we start thinking like that, we’re telling him that he doesn’t know how to run our lives (though we will, of course, piously sing on Sunday that he knows how to run the world!). But a truly thankful and committed heart to God is one that trusts his purposes, that gratefully receives whatever he gives us at this time (without comparing it with others), and that trusts him even when things aren’t working out in quite the way we would have liked them to.
If you have fallen into the trap of comparing yourself with others or longing for what they have, just stop it! God loves you exactly as you are, and is providing for you in exactly the way that is right for you at this time. The only person you should be comparing yourself with is - yourself! - seeking to be a better Christian than you were this time last week, last month, last year. Only this comparison bears fruit for God!
A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones. (Proverbs 14:30)
Copyright © 2017 Martin Manser and Mike Beaumont
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