I was visiting with a friend the other day about the wisdom we as parents try to pass on to our children. One of those little tidbits of wisdom he mentioned centered around the futility of comparisons. His point resonated with me. Regardless of age, we each tend to compare ourselves and our situations to other people. In addition to being time poorly spent, comparisons can be destructive and dangerous. Comparisons breed frustration and a defeatist outlook on one end of the spectrum and prejudice and an inflated sense of self on the other end.
A couple of years ago in church, Neil Tomba, our senior pastor, quoted a friend of his who said, “Prejudice is considering yourself superior based on the outward appearance of another.” As I thought about that, I realized that comparisons cut both ways. If you compare yourself to someone who you believe to be better, stronger, smarter, richer, or more successful than you, and assume that you are inferior to that person because of all or any of that, you build up, at best, a sense of frustration and, at worst, a sense of envy. On the other hand, if you make those same comparisons and deem yourself to be superior to that person, you build up a sense of conceit and pride.
God’s unique plan
So, what is my counsel to our three sons? Refuse to compare yourself to other people. That’s a loser’s game. God’s unique and special plan for each one of us has nothing to do with the other guy. Rest in that. In Galatians 5, Paul addresses this when he writes, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.” (vss. 22-26 NIV)
Our earthly treasures and talents come from God alone. So does everyone else’s. That is the starting point for everything. Always remember to be grateful for what God has given you. If you are reading this, there is a pretty good chance that I don’t know you and, therefore, don’t know all the gifts God has given you. But, I do know some of them. He has given you the capacity to forgive by first forgiving you. He has given you the capacity to encourage and comfort others by first encouraging and comforting you. Both of these gifts are blessings from the Giver of all good gifts. Also, your personality comes from God. And He will use these gifts (if you will allow Him to do so) to carry out His plan for your life, to bless others, and to glorify His name…all for your good and His glory. When you understand that, comparisons really do lose their allure.