Is it your friends and family? Or maybe you are trying to keep up with what social media and culture and the competition all say you should be. Maybe it’s even you comparing yourself to the classmate who didn’t have the grades that you had but who has accomplished much more than you.
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 into 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!”.
Here are some of the things that 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 Ten Commandments even 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 comparison happens 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 just 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 God's 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.
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.
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.
Once Peter, in comparing himself to John, asked Jesus the question "What about Him Lord?". Jesus' response was in essence "What's it to you?"
What's it to You?
by Kelly Givens
Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them, the one who had been reclining at the table close to him… 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!” John 21:20-22
Have you ever wondered why God allows some Christians to suffer so much, and others seem to glide through life effortlessly, painlessly? I know many Godly men and women who seem to suffer without end. Their pain is more than I have ever experienced; they’ve faced more trials in a year than I’ve faced in my entire life. Why is that? Am I loved by God more than these people? Are they glorifying God more through their suffering than I can in my blessings? The comparisons go in all directions.
Comparison was Peter’s go-to when Jesus told him this: “Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God). Then he said to him, “Follow me!” (John 21:18-19).
Jesus was foretelling that Peter, just like himself, would be led to his death, arms stretched out in his own crucifixion. Tradition points to Peter being crucified upside down during Nero’s persecution, not wanting to be crucified in the same manner as his Lord.
I’m not sure if Peter knew then by what kind of death he would die, but no doubt he got the gist of what Jesus was saying. So it’s no surprise that he quickly disregarded Christ’s instruction to “follow me!” Instead, he looked around at the other disciples, spotted John, and exclaimed “Lord, what about this man?” I wonder if Peter was thinking, “If I have to die a horrible death, does that mean John will die a horrible death, too? If not, why should I go through this trial and not him? Do you love him more than me?”
Our sinful nature is hard-wired to compare. When others seem to get ahead or are seemingly blessed more than us, we grow envious. When the tables are turned and we are the ones being blessed, we might fight the urge to brag or think more highly of ourselves that we ought. Both kinds of comparison are fatal to our faith, and Jesus knows it. So when Peter bluntly asked, “what about this man?” Jesus’ response was clear. “What is that to you? You follow me!”
Peter died a horrible, agonizing death. Most historians agree that all of the other apostles met similar, violent ends to their lives. Except John. John died peacefully in his old age. Why? Because that was how each “was to glorify God.” When God bestows on us blessings we should proclaim his glory joyfully and humbly. But when he allows us to suffer, we have the opportunity to proclaim him King through our hopefulness and faith. God’s glory is what's important, not our circumstances.
“You follow me.” Fixing ourselves on Jesus is the key to fruitful ministry, the key to humility, the key to joy regardless of our circumstances. It’s the key to glorifying God - the true purpose of our lives and ministry.
Editor’s Note: The following section is based on 4 Ways to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
written by Cindi McMenamin
Here are four ways to stop comparing yourself to others (and find peace and contentment in being yourself):
1. Remember that you are fearfully and wonderfully made.
Psalm 18:30 tells us God’s ways are “perfect”
Psalms 18:30 NLT God’s way is perfect. All the Lord ’s promises prove true. He is a shield for all who look to him for protection.
Psalm 139:14 tells us that we are“fearfully and wonderfully made.”
Psalms 139:14 NLT Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
Therefore you are God’s unique creation. As you surrender your heart and will to Him, He can mold you and transform you into exactly what He wants you to be. So when you begin to feel inadequate and feel the temptation to compare, quietly whisper a prayer of thanks to God for making you the way you are.
2. Realize we all have different strengths and weaknesses.
“There will always be someone thinner, richer, and better looking, so get used to it.” This is true advice. No matter how hard you try, someone will always be better at something than you are. So when you start feeling the need to compare, practice humility.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10 NLT Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Ask the Holy Spirit to help you rely on Him and His strength rather than the need to find someone who appears weaker than you so that you can feel stronger.
3. Choose compliments over comparison.
When you see that person who is thinner, richer and better looking find something about them to compliment. Maybe they are wearing a great looking suit, or they have a great smile, find something and then tell them. But make sure it’s genuine. Genuinely complimenting others outwardly keeps us from complaining inwardly and cultivating a critical spirit.
4. Rely on God’s opinion rather than the opinion of others.
Our own insecurity often causes us to compare ourselves with others, looking for a way to feel superior. But what if we relied on God’s opinion of us before we had a chance to listen to our own, or others’ opinions? Quietly thank God that He sees your heart and actions and He knows the real story. If someone is bragging about their own abilities, don’t start comparing their talents with yours. Instead, quietly say “This doesn’t matter, God. Help me to be content with Your evaluation of me over anything else.” Sometimes we have to tell ourselves what to think in order to keep our minds from going in the wrong direction.
Philippians 4:8 NLT And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.
Philippians 2:5 NLT You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.
Not only are you and I fearfully and wonderfully made, but when we are in Christ, He sees us as perfect in Christ. That means we have God’s measuring stick, not our own or that of others to