COMPARING YOURSELF TO OTHERS
Definition: Comparing means examining the similarities and differences of two or more things, ideas or people. When we compare ourselves with others, it can be a form of jealousy that results from not trusting in the Lord’s love and fairness.
1. Comparing ourselves negatively with others leads to discontment, discouragement and jealously.
1 Samuel 18:8,9 And Saul was very wroth, and the saying displeased him; and he said, They have ascribed unto David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed but thousands: and what can he have more but the kingdom? 9 And Saul eyed David from that day and forward.
Romans 9:20,21 [Comparing ourselves unfavorably can lead to feeling inferior and then to murmuring:] Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to Him that formed it, Why hast Thou made me thus? 21 Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?
Acts 7:9 [Joseph’s brothers envied him to the point of conspiring to kill him, but God blessed and protected Joseph and made his brothers come and beg before him] And the patriarchs, moved with envy, sold Joseph into Egypt: but God was with him. [For the whole story, see Genesis chapters 37-50]
2 Corinthians 10:12 For we dare not make ourselves of the number [classify ourselves], or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.
[See also Jealousy and Envy, #1-5]
2. Comparing ourselves favorably with others can lead to pride and self-righteousness. (However, it can also be encouraging if done for the humble purpose of counting our blessings.)
Luke 18:9-14 And He spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: 10 Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank Thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. 12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. 13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto Heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.
Romans 12:3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.
Romans 14:13 [Thinking of ourselves as superior compared to others can cause others, in turn, to look upon themselves negatively] Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way.
1 Corinthians 4:7 [Comparing fosters a spirit of competition and pride] For who maketh thee to differ from another? And what hast thou that thou didst not receive [from God]? Now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?
1 Corinthians 13:4 [Love] suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; [love] vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up.
3. Comparing is often a two-way street, as born out by the story of the sisters Rachel and Leah, wives of Jacob, who each compared themselves unfavorably with the other.
Genesis 29:17 [Leah didn’t compare favorably with Rachel in appearance:] Leah was tender [timid or weak] eyed; but Rachel was beautiful and well favoured.
Genesis 30:1 And when Rachel saw that she bare Jacob no children, Rachel envied her sister; and said unto Jacob, Give me children, or else I die.
Genesis 30:15a [Leah was also envious of Jacob’s love for Rachel:] And [Leah] said unto [Rachel], Is it a small matter that thou hast taken my husband?
4. Comparing results from carnal mindedness and spiritual immaturity.
Romans 8:5 For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.
1 Corinthians 3:1-8 And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. … 3 For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? 4 For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal? 5 Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? 6 I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. 7 So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase. 8 Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour.
1 Corinthians 4:5,6 [Let the Lord be the judge. He sees the hidden man of the heart] Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, Who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God. 6 And these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollos for your sakes; that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another. [See also 2 Corinthians 5:12]
Galatians 6:12a Many … desire to make a fair shew in the flesh. [See also 1 Peter 4:2]
5. Jesus’ disciples fell prey to comparing amongst themselves on several occasions.
Matthew 18:1-4 At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven? 2 And Jesus called a little child unto Him, and set him in the midst of them, 3 And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. 4 Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.
Matthew 20:20,21,24-28 [Jesus used a similar situation to show His disciples how their comparing was based on worldly, carnal values:] Then came to Him the mother of Zebedee’s children with her sons, worshipping Him, and desiring a certain thing of Him. 21 And He said unto her, What wilt thou? She saith unto Him, Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on Thy right hand, and the other on the left, in Thy Kingdom. 24 And when the ten heard it, they were moved with indignation against the two brethren. 25 But Jesus called them unto Him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. 26 But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; 27 And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: 28 Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many.
Luke 9:46-48 Then there arose a reasoning among them, which of them should be greatEsther 47 And Jesus, perceiving the thought of their heart. … 48 said unto them, … he that is least among you all, the same shall be great.
John 21:20-22 Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following; which also leaned on His breast at supper. … 21 Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do? 22 Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry [remain here] till I come, what is that to thee? Follow thou Me.
6. The tendency to compare and be jealous seems to be part of human nature, but the Lord can help us overcome it.
[See Jealousy and Envy]
7. The best antidote for comparing is thankfulness for what we are and all that we have and trusting in the Lord’s love and fairness.
Romans 7:25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.
1 Corinthians 12:4-7,11,12,14-18 [Remember, we have each been fashioned to fulfil a special role and all are equally important and necessary members of the body of Christ, His Church] Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. 6 And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. 7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. … 11 But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as He will. 12 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. … 14 For the body is not one member, but many. 15 If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? 16 And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? 17 If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? 18 But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased Him.
1 Corinthians 15:9,10 [Let’s learn to be thankful for how God made us, in spite of our faults. The example of Paul the Apostle] For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the Church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am: and His grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.
Philippians 4:11,12 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. 12 I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.
1 Timothy 1:12 And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, Who hath enabled me, for that He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry.
1 Timothy 6:6 But Godliness with contentment is great gain. [See also verse 8]
Hebrews 13:5 Let your conversation [conduct, behavior, way of life] be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.
Revelation 5:9,10 [We’ve got a lot to be thankful for] And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by Thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; 10 And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.
8. Pleasing Jesus is all that really matters.
John 5:44 How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only?
Romans 14:12 So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.
1 Corinthians 4:5 Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, Who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.
2 Corinthians 10:17,18 But he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord. 18 For not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth.
Galatians 6:4 But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.
9. If you must compare, compare yourself to Jesus.
Isaiah 53:2b-4,6b,7-10 He hath form nor comeliness; and when we shall see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him. 3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from Him; He was despised, and we esteemed Him not. 4 Surely He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. 6b The Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all. 7 He was oppressed, and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth: He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He openeth not His mouth. 8 He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare His generation? For He was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was He stricken. 9 And He made His grave with the wicked, and with the rich in His death; because He had done no violence, neither was any deceit in His mouth. 10 Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He hath put Him to grief: when thou shalt make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand. [SeeIsaiah 53: all]
Hebrews 4:15 For we have not an High Priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.
Hebrews 12:2-4 Looking unto Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith; Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 For consider Him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. 4 Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin. [See also Hebrews 3:1]
1 Peter 2:21,23 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example that we should follow His steps. 23 Who, when He was reviled, reviled not again; when He suffered, He threatened not; but committed Himself to Him [God] that judgeth righteously