God’s Help with Comparisons
Comparisons we make are not just limited to measuring ourselves up to others. Unhelpful emotions can also swell inside our hearts for two other reasons:
- When we compare our present to our past selves
- When we compare who we are currently with a version of ourselves that has unreasonable expectations.
Comparing ourselves is toxic to our souls because it encourages feelings of arrogance, jealousy, and despair about ourselves. When our self-esteem and emotional states are low, God is able to lovingly rejuvenate us with His word.
If I were to dwell on my life before I was paralyzed and all the things I can no longer do without the use of my legs, then my heart will become blinded. By focusing on one area of my past, I will start to forget the whole picture. In Philippians 3:13-14, the apostle Paul wrote, “But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Yes, I had my legs, but I was also an apathetic person who was generally unhappy at heart, and thought my life had little to no value. Also, negatively dwelling on that aspect of the past would help me lose sight of all the blessings that came from that situation. Losing my legs had been one of the best things to ever happen to me. Due to it, I have gotten to grow with God, become closer to the woman He has blessed me with for a wife, and see the preciousness of all the love I have been blessed with by Him. John 1:14-16 says, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth…For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.”
When we don’t give our current selves grace and compare ourselves with a version that we feel we should be, then negative emotions start to cloud the present. When I was first dating my wife, we were walking in a town called Oxford. I love German food so I suggested we go to the one in town. Only we could not get in because the entrance was below ground and only had stairs to get in. If I had gotten upset and began to dwell on what the day would have been like if only I had legs, then I would have neglected the present. I had a beautiful woman who loved standing next to me and a wonderful day God blessed me with to spend with her. There was no need to lament over my legs and lower my self-esteem over a version of me that does not exist. So we said, “Well that’s unfortunate.” and found a great restaurant down the street. Ephesians 4:31-32 reads,” Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Just as it is important for us to treat others in a Christ like manner, we need to treat ourselves with the conduct He would.
Comparisons do not produce Christ-like love because they bring criticism. 1 John 3:18-20 says, “Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything.” Jesus did not just show His love for us by talking. He sacrificed His life so that each one of us could be eternally saved and truly know about love. The next time you try to compare and criticize, remember the rejuvenating love of Christ.