I have a habit of comparing myself. Doesn’t everyone? Social media definitely fans this flame for the general population, I’d bet. Whether it has to do with beauty, careers, houses, travel, family, friends or just life circumstances; we all constantly compare ourselves to her, to him, or to them.
Something I, and most women, tend to put a lot of hope and trust in is beauty. And what a crazy thing to hope in? It’s something that is so fleeting; yet, as young girls growing up in this world, we are fed constant lies from advertisements, music, and movies saying that a women has to be beautiful. Because if we’re not beautiful, we won’t ever get a date or mount up to anything in life, right?
What a complete lie.
There will always be someone prettier, smarter, funnier, more successful, with a better-paying job, nicer home, or more put-together family. And even if we are beautiful or make lots of money, we will always find something we don’t like about ourselves or always want that “next thing.” And why is it that some of the most beautiful people are the most insecure? Or some of the people who travel often are the most discontent? Or the richest people are often the most unhappy? It’s proof that the grass is not always greener.
The purpose of our lives is to love God and give Him glory. And we can’t give God glory if we’re constantly focused on what other people are doing or completely consumed with our own cares and worries. That’s what comparison does, it gets us to shallowly focus too much on ourselves and our desires. Beth Moore has said, “If Satan can’t get you to worship him; he will get you to worship yourself.”
We see in John 21:20-22 that even the apostle Peter, whom Jesus referred to as the “rock” on which the church would be built upon, compared himself with the others.
Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them, the one who also had leaned back against him during the supper and had said, “Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?” When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?” Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!”
Peter is literally walking alongside Jesus in the flesh, after he just witnessed Jesus be crucified, buried, and raised from the dead; yet, even Peter walking closely with Jesus got distracted and compared himself to others. Jesus sternly reminds Peter not to worry about John’s life plan but to instead follow Him.
Jesus does not want Peter to get caught up in distractions that will interfere with Jesus’ great plans for Peter’s life. Jesus wants Peter to turn his focus onto his own plan and to follow Him.
This passage is the last passage in the Gospel of John and the last words of Jesus given in the last of the four Gospel books. I think the biggest issue Christians face in this digital age is getting too distracted by our lives and all the worries and cares that come with it. We focus too much on how perfect our lives are, what’s going not as we planned, or what others are doing.
“For I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” – Philippians 4:11-12
So what’s the secret to beating comparison? There are two main things that have helped me learn to be content with my circumstances and not compare myself to others.
First, it’s by following Jesus and keeping my eyes and heart set on Him. There is no greater love than Jesus dying on the cross for us. Making the most money, traveling to the best places, or being the most successful or beautiful person in the room won’t bring the lasting love and peace that we all crave. Chasing these things and placing them at the center of our lives only leads to disappointment and depression. Not with Jesus, when we place Him rightfully at the center of our lives, He brings peace, life, and abundance.
Second, with Jesus at the center of our lives, we can thereby enjoy our lives more fully without putting all of our hope in it. God has truly given each of us special gifts, talents, and blessings. What will we do with them? Will we be like Peter and turn around looking at what John is doing, wasting our precious time, or will we make the most of the responsibilities and blessings God has graciously given us? There is so much freedom in working towards being our “best self” and giving God glory in our lives without putting our identity and worth in what we accomplish.
Do not be conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind. – Romans 12:2
There will always be tiny moments when we can give in to comparing ourselves, causing us to lose our joy and peace. Will we choose each and every day to refuse to allow the bitterness or envy a dwelling place in our lives? It takes thoughtful prayer, daily reading the Bible, and worship to rewire our minds to follow Jesus daily and give Him glory with our lives to the best of our ability.