There is something in human nature that makes us want to compare ourselves with others. We tend to rate our lives with the lives of those around us, with people we are close to or familiar with, to measure our progress and success in life. Many people assess their lives by the quality of the lives of their peers, class mates or colleagues at work. If they think they are better than these people, they feel good with themselves but if they think those people are better than them, they feel bad and become dissillusioned and dissatisfied with their lives.
The bible says in 2Corinthians 10:12, For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise. KJV
The New Living Translation says: Oh, don’t worry; we wouldn’t dare say that we are as wonderful as these other men who tell you how important they are! But they are only comparing themselves with each other, using themselves as the standard of measurement. How ignorant!
It is foolish to use another person’s life as a measuring standard for your own life because you have no idea what their life is about. But this is what some people do daily. They pattern their lives after other people no matter how much of their own uniqueness gets discarded and trampled upon in the process.
What is comparison? It is the quality of being similar or equivalent. It is a consideration or estimate of the similarities or dissimilarities between two things or people. Human vanity may make you compare yourself with someone who looks less successful or less privileged than you to make yourself feel that you are better than that person, but you may totally be wrong. Appearances can be deceiving. Some people are not really what they appear to be. They may be worse off or much better than we think they are.
You should understand that The Lord is not going to judge you by the gifts and talents He gave another person. He is not going to assess you by the calling and assignment given to another person. For instance if you are called to be a research scientist, the Lord won’t assess your life by the calling he gave a business person and ask you why you built research facilities instead of building factories. The Lord only demands from us the fruits of what He committed into our hands to do and nothing more.
There’s a reason why you were born in your country, to your parents, in your environment, privileged or under privileged. You may not know the reason but The Lord does and it is for a purpose. There is a reason why you were endowed with certain abilities and mental capacities which distinguish you from the people around you and make you uniquely qualified to pursue and fulfil your assignment in life. There is a reason why the Lord permitted you to have certain life experiences which were denied others. Everything we go through in life prepares us for the pursuit of our unique individual assignments.
The combination of our talents, education, exposure, experience and expertise makes us different from every other person on the planet and sets us on a unique path of destiny in the pursuit of our calling. This is the reason why comparison is unwise.
Comparison makes you accept someone else for who or what they are but refuse to accept yourself for who you are. Comparison undermines you. Someone says comparison is violence against your soul. It is violence against your calling, your assignment and your gifting.
Comparison diminishes your person, your worth and your value. It strips you of whatever sense of value you possess and leaves you empty, destitute, with a feeling of worthlessnes. Our sense of worth and value as believers comes from our identification and union with Christ. It is the Lord who has made us accepted in the beloved, Ephesians 1:6. We don’t ever have to compare ourselves with anybody else.
Many people ruin their lives through comparison. They try to become who and what they are not. They live a fake life in an attempt to measure up to somebody else’s expectations or standards. They fail to focus on the talents, abilities that God has given them and they spend their lives wanting to be someone else and they fail at it. We can be inspired and challenged by the lives of successful people around us, making us want to improve ourselves and accomplish more with our lives. However you can be inspired without trying to become a carbon copy of someone else.
Comparison makes you see life greener on the other side of the street. It makes you want to be like someone you think is better than you in some way thereby turning yourself into a completely different person. It makes you despise everything good in yourself while you covet and try to be that person.
Comparison blinds you to the good you possess and makes you abandon every gift, ability and grace God has blessed you with. It weakens your resolve by stealing your confidence, stealing your sense of self worth and value.
Comparison is an assassin of your future. It destroys your future by diverting your focus and attention to an unprofitable course. By telling yourself that you are not good enough or you are not as good as your neighbour, you condemn yourself to living a substandard life.
Comparison offers you an alternate journey, an alternate destiny by telling you that the path you are on, the journey you have embarked upon is worthless compared to the journey of others around you. When you look at them through the parochial lenses of comparison you always see yourself as not good enough.
God is just. He doesn’t expect or demand from us what He has not equipped us to do. He won’t judge a doctor by the musical talents of a musician like Mozart who was a musical genius. That would be wickedness. Even Mozart won’t be judged by the business skills of Richard Branson, chairman of the Virgin group of companies. There are no parallels, no place, no room, no justification whatsoever for such comparison.
You must understand that your journey is unlike any other person’s journey on the planet. There may be some similarities in your life and your friend’s life, but you two are completely unique and different individuals. Your paths are never the same. The doors the Lord opens before you are totally different from the doors he opens before your neighbour. Your door and your neighbour’s door don’t lead in the same direction. Your gifts and calling will lead you on a path the Lord has customised and prepared especially for you. As you walk on the path the Lord has chosen and set before you, He will grant you the grace and ability to excel in your calling.
No matter how beautiful your neighbour’s path is, it can never lead you to the fulfilment of God’s ordained plan and purpose for your life. Many have missed their calling in life because they try to be what God has not equipped, gifted or called them to be. They wander aimlessly in a wilderness because they want to be somebody else.
For instance, if you are called to evangelize in villages but you decide that you want to be like your bible school colleague and start a church in the city, you may have a big church and look successful to men but in the eyes of The Lord you would have failed. Even if you open 10 mega churches in prominent cities but your assignment is to villages, you would have essentially wasted your life pursuing the wrong things to impress men. If you are ever tempted to impress men, first you should remember that no man purchased you with his blood, only Jesus did (1Peter 1:18-19). You should also remember that no matter the accolades given to you, no man can reward you for your labour in the Body of Christ. Only the Lord Jesus can. (1Corinthians 3:9-15)
If somehow you are successful in copying your neighbour in every possible way, it will not lead you to your place of assignment neither will it guarantee success in your calling. Copying someone else will not make you become the person God designed you to be. By copying someone else the best you will ever be is a second rate version of an original. In your heart you will live with the knowledge that you are nothing but a fake and you will never be like the original you tried to copy no matter how much you try.
Comparison births the spirit of unhealthy competition and evil ambition in you. There are two kinds of competition, healthy and unhealthy competition. Healthy competition is when you are inspired by the life, performance or success of other people and strive to be the best you can be at whatever you do. But unhealthy competition makes you fight continuously with other people because you feel a need to prove yourself to them or show that you are better than them in some way. It is the spirit of competition that makes people want to live like the Joneses down the street who are richer than them, have more material things than them, know more important people than them and who look better than them in every way. The spirit of competition also promotes pride which makes such people live above their means and incur debts in a futile attempt to impress people who don’t care about them and who probably have no idea that they even exist.
Pride makes you think that you are better than what the Lord made you, that you deserve more abilities than He has given you and you deserve a better path or a better life than that which He has chosen and placed before you. Pride makes you want to be like someone you see as better than you, more accomplished than you, more successful than you. Such a pride driven life attracts problems and ends in disaster.
Our lives will ultimately be assessed by the Lord based on our gifting, abilities, opportunities, placements and obedience to pursue and fulfil our assignment. We will be rewarded based on our results compared to our assignment not by what somebody else did or accomplished with his or her life or by what they were called to do. It is therefore important not to waste your life in futile comparison but to focus your energy and resources through prayer on your own chosen path, doing all you can by God’s grace to pursue and accomplish your kingdom purpose and assignment.