1 Thessalonians 2:4 NLT For we speak as messengers approved by God to be entrusted with the Good News. Our purpose is to please God, not people. He alone examines the motives of our hearts. (Emphasis mine)
What Does the Bible Say About Comparing Yourself to Others? Comparison is so rooted in our culture that few of us even notice it anymore. Instead, we fall for it hook, line and sinker. “If only I had XYZ that they have, then I would be happy!” or “If only I could be more like them, then life would be better!”.
Do you know what the Bible has to say about comparing yourself to others?
2 Corinthians 10:12 NLT 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! (Emphasis mine)
Proverbs 14:30 NIV A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.
One of the Ten Commandments prohibits comparison.
Exodus 20:17 NLT “You must not covet your neighbor’s house. You must not covet your neighbor’s wife, male or female servant, ox or donkey, or anything else that belongs to your neighbor.”
Most of the time comparisons happen before we realize it. Before you know it, we’ve measured someone else by our own standards, or concluded, after observation and the collection of a few facts, that we're either inferior or superior to them.
Jesus warned us not to get caught up in comparison.
Luke 18:9-14 NLT Then Jesus told this story to some who had great confidence in their own righteousness and scorned everyone else: “Two men went to the Temple to pray. One was a Pharisee, and the other was a despised tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer : ‘I thank you, God, that I am not like other people—cheaters, sinners, adulterers. I’m certainly not like that tax collector! I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income.’ “But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, ‘O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.’ I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
While we may not set out to exalt ourselves when we compare ourselves to others, we certainly don’t do it to make ourselves feel inadequate or inferior. We most often compare ourselves to others out of our insecurity. We want to make ourselves feel better. We also compare because of our competitive or perfectionist nature. We want to be right, perfect, or simply better than the other person.
Comparison rarely leads to humility, and humility is what pleases God.
1 Peter 5:5-7 NLT In the same way, you who are younger must accept the authority of the elders. And all of you, dress yourselves in humility as you relate to one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. (Emphasis mine)
James 4:6-10 NLT And he gives grace generously. As the Scriptures say, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor. (Emphasis mine)
Proverbs 3:34 NLT The Lord mocks the mockers but is gracious to the humble.
God intentionally made everyone different. Every one of us is a person of unique and awesome design. We don’t have to measure up to others. Far from being a problem, we can learn to use our personalities constructively. Each one of us has a contribution to make that no one else can.
You are the result of His divine design.
Psalms 139:1-24 NLT O Lord , you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away. You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord . You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand! I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence! If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the grave, you are there. If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me. I could ask the darkness to hide me and the light around me to become night— but even in darkness I cannot hide from you. To you the night shines as bright as day. Darkness and light are the same to you. You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, you are still with me! O God, if only you would destroy the wicked! Get out of my life, you murderers! They blaspheme you; your enemies misuse your name. O Lord , shouldn’t I hate those who hate you? Shouldn’t I despise those who oppose you? Yes, I hate them with total hatred, for your enemies are my enemies. Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.
Your unique and specific mannerisms, insights, and style are the very qualities that make you uniquely positioned to fulfill a specific need, the one that God purposed for you.
Ephesians 2:10 NLT For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
Of course, we all have areas in our lives that need to be changed, and God will show those areas one at a time. If we stop comparing ourselves to others, if we stop placing little value on the very qualities that cause us to stand out from those around us, we can start the process of freeing ourselves from a spirit of inferiority so that our unique gifts can start to shine brightly as God intended.
1 Peter 4:10-11 NLT God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you. Do you have the gift of helping others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen.
If you are struggling with comparison here's a prayer for you.
Lord, we know that comparison usually starts with our mindset. A thought comes in, and we entertain it until it becomes jealousy over what other people have. Please forgive us for allowing those thoughts to marinate in our minds. Turn our comparative thoughts into praiseworthy things. Fill our hearts with thanksgiving so that we are humbly grateful for what we've been given. We pray these things in the precious name of Jesus, Amen.