The Comparison Dilemma

Who hasn’t fallen into the comparison trap? I know I have! In a world that’s constantly feeding us the idea that you can (and should) achieve perfection, it can be hard to not compare your own life with the lives of those around you. In this article, we’ll briefly discuss what it means to compare yourself with others, the consequences of getting trapped in comparisons, and some practical things you can do to help break yourself free from this cycle.

Defining “Comparison”

According to Noah Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language, “comparison” can be defined as the following:

COMPARISON, noun

1. The act of comparing; the act of considering the relation between persons or things, with a view to discover their agreement or resemblance, or their disagreement or difference.

Essentially, a comparison is something that helps us to distinguish similarities and differences. Obviously, the act of comparing things has its place. I mean, how would we decide on what to buy if we didn’t compare items and make note of their quality, style, price, etc.? However, comparisons can be a major problem if unchecked.

The Problem with Comparison

Comparisons can become a problem when we let the comparisons feed feelings such as: jealousy, envy, discontent, lust, disobedience, selfishness, anger, resentment, and self-pity. Put bluntly, being immersed in comparisons can lead us into sin. Obviously, this isn’t ideal for believers!

Some Examples of Comparisons

There are lots of things that we can start feeling discontent about: material things; relationships; personalities; accomplishments—you name it! Below are some examples of some common comparisons that women tend to make.

  • So many of my peers are in a relationship or are already married. Why am I still single? Is there something wrong with me?
  • That person seems so popular. Should I try being like them to attract more attention?
  • I know that the Bible says that this is wrong…but lots of people do and things seem okay. Why shouldn’t I do it, too?
  • Why can’t I look so pretty/slim/attractive/etc. as they do?
  • I’ve worked so hard on this, and I don’t get half the attention/recognition that they are getting—and they didn’t work even half as hard as I did!
  • Their life seems so perfect and mess-free. Mine is just a mess.

Countering the Temptation to Compare

So, what should you do if you’re falling into the trap of comparing yourself with others? For starters, try some of the following ideas:

  • Pray! Ask the Lord to help you see things through His eyes and to be thankful for the things that you are going through and the things that you have.
  • Practice gratitude! This may sound obvious, but it can be extremely helpful when you’re feeling down. In the past, I used to make note of a few things I was thankful for in my gratitude journal on a daily basis.
  • Review Scriptural truths that relate to your situation. Sometimes we forget the goodness of God in the midst of all the thoughts that are swirling through our minds (see the list below for inspiration).
  • Memorize Bible verses that will help encourage you.
  • Think about how God may be using this season of your life to help you grow closer to Him and equip you for the next steps He has.
  • Consider taking a step back from things that often tempt you to compare yourself with others (e.g. social media).

Scriptural Truths to Help Re-Direct Our Attention

If you’re finding yourself caught up in the cycle of comparing yourself with others, I’d encourage you to read the verses listed below for encouragement! And maybe even memorize some of these verses if you find them helpful.

The Lord Provides

  • “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19 (ESV)
  • Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” Matthew 6:25-27 (ESV)
  • “…The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. ” Psalm 23:1 (ESV)
  • “I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread.” Psalm 37:25
  • “The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.” Psalm 34:10 (ESV)

You Can Rely on the Lord

  • “[D]o not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 (ESV)
  • “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 (ESV)

You Are Valued Just as You Are

  • “Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.” Luke 12:7 (ESV)

The Lord Can Help You to Be Content with What You Have

  • “…for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.” Philippians 4:11-12 (ESV)
  • “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (ESV)
  • “Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!” Psalm 107:1 (ESV)

You Don’t Have to Be Like Everyone Else—Especially the World!

  • “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10 (ESV)
  • “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2 (ESV)

Closing Thoughts

As we close this article, I’d like to leave you with a few thoughts. First, you don’t have to stay in dilemma of comparing yourself with others. While it may feel like you’re stuck, you can be freed from this through the help of the Holy Spirit. Second, it’s possible for us to desire something good and not get it. But it’s critical to remember that the Lord’s timing doesn’t always match with our timing. And sometimes He doesn’t give us what we think is good because He has something better in mind! The Lord is sovereign, He provides, and He loves you just the way you are. You don’t have to keep up with the Jones’ or be in the same season that everyone else is in.

 

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