This morning after spending some time online I was thinking about what it was that made me feel so...yucky. Sure, I was unproductive and could have spent the time doing something more worthwhile, but there was something else going on. When I asked God about it, "comparing" came to mind.
Maybe it's something about facebook and other social media, being able to see what everyone is doing. Why do I look to others to determine my value and worth? Sure, comparisons can be benign and insignificant... or...so I think? But what's at the root of all this comparing? I have a good life, no I have a great life! I am so blessed---so....why would I compare? Why would I let the world (even my controlled facebook world) shape the way I view myself? Is it a lack of acceptance of who God made me to be? Maybe a lack of identity--that I don't fully know who I am in Christ and the gift of righteousness he has given me? Here are my thoughts as I dig to get this yucky root of comparison out of my life and allow God to replace it with HIS LOVE.
Sometimes in my comparisons, I measure up...these are the people who live like me...usually my friends. When I read their posts or see what's going on with them, I feel validated, equal, okay! These are the comparisons that may be 'benign'. But not really, because even if I seem to be 'okay' or equal to my peers.... am I really being who God designed me to be? Galatians 6:4 says: "Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else." So I really don't need to look to other people! I need to base my opinion of myself on what God says about me!!!
Sometimes in my comparisons, I feel pride or superiority (yuck, that's hard to admit). Maybe I (usually subconsciously) think that I'm better than someone based on what is going on in their life according to social media. This is where judging and criticism can occur.....not a pretty thing since I am no better than anyone else. This has led me to many “plank in the eye” experiences recently (more posts to come on this, but see Luke 6:37-42). Comparison can produce superiority and pride-those things are NOT part of the new creation I became when I trusted Christ.
Sometimes in my comparisons, I don't measure up...and I feel disappointed, inferior, or insecure. Maybe, according to facebook posts, I think someone's life is better or easier than mine. Maybe I think they have a more exciting life, or they have more things, or do things better...maybe they are richer or prettier or smarter (based on my opinion according to facebook). This is really dangerous as it can open the door to resentment and envy (James 3:14)...really ugly, and NOT WHO I AM in Christ!!!
When confronted with sin, I've learned that before I'm ready to change, sometimes I have to see just how bad it is...what damage it has caused. Maybe that's why this issue has taken me so long to confront! It’s an easy one to gloss over and think, ‘oh it’s not that big of a deal’. But when God started revealing the damage this lie has done, and what bigger issues it has caused, I can see that it has gone on long enough. Comparing has caused me the pain of feeling insecure and unloved, when that is not the truth. It has caused me to want something I don’t have and to not like and appreciate what I do have. It has caused me to judge others unfairly, damaging or missing out on relationships. It has caused me to doubt others and not believe the truth of God’s word about them. In comparing myself and my circumstances to others, I am showing ingratitude at the highest level. Covetousness, greed and selfishness masked-so, it is a big deal! Colossians 3:5 leads me to see that this is idolatry. Wow! That makes it seem a little more serious.
Don't fret if you find yourself in this same ‘comparison boat’ with me ...we are not the first ones to go there! Psalm 106 gives a rundown of the Israelites' history with this sin. Even though we see the effects of it, it is so easy to fall into deception and open the door to rebellion. I have been taken captive by the enemy…but by the grace of God, I have come to my senses and will escape the trap (2 Timothy 2:26)! I am so thankful that In Christ, I don't have to be condemned when I'm convicted of this or any other sin (Romans 8:1). Each time I've been convicted of comparing over the last year or so (and each time I will be in the future) is an opportunity for me to agree with the ONE who loves me! I can agree with Him that it's not good or fruitful for me to compare. I can agree with him that it's a sin and not fitting for my life. I can allow Him to mold me and shape me into the woman he designed me to be. OR...I can compare myself to someone else, making myself feel better by thinking "at least I don't do that"...and waste the opportunity of conviction to renew my mind to the truth of God's word. Because the truth of God's word is: 2 Corinthians 10:12 "We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise." The truth is-we are all equal IN CHRIST Colossians 3:11
So…now I know how detrimental it can be….but how do I change it? How do I stop comparing? Since obedience is a fruit of righteousness, I will not be loved any less even if I continue to compare myself to others. But to change-I know I have to trust the Holy Spirit to guide me and sanctify me-he will complete the good work he began in me (and in you!!) Philippians 1:6. I know this isn’t going to be an overnight immediate change since I’ve believed these lies for so long they have become a stronghold, I will have to trust the Lord to change me from glory to glory. I will have to believe 2 Peter 1:3-4 His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
I know I need a thankful heart, because a thankful heart is a happy heart (Yes, I’m now singing the Veggie Tales Thankfulness Song!) Thankfulness really comes from being content…check out what Paul said in Philippians 4:11. I will need to have my mind renewed daily Romans 12:2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Here are some verses that will align my thinking in this area.
Galatians 5:25-26MSG Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives. That means we will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is an original. Wow! That is a good word to think on and renew my mind!
Romans 12:6 MSG let's just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren't. If I could really do that-be what I was made to be…If we could all just do that, wow!
1 Corinthians 4:7-8 MSG For who do you know that really knows you, knows your heart? And even if they did, is there anything they would discover in you that you could take credit for? Isn't everything you have and everything you are sheer gifts from God? So what's the point of all this comparing and competing? You already have all you need. You already have more access to God than you can handle.
One of the things I like about a blog is the ability to search for 'tags' in previous posts. When I journal, I recall writing something down or learning it, but it's usually difficult to find where I wrote it or when it occurred. I knew God had been working with me on this topic for quite sometime...but I found a post on my blog from over a year ago....wow! Hope I get this one soon! I know God's word is alive and active in me-my mind is constantly being renewed! I did find in my journal some notes from a sermon podcast I listened to by Robert Morris titled "The sin of comparison" at Gateway Church on 3-20-10.
As a side note, I don't think FB is bad! I think it can be used for great things like encouraging others and staying in touch with friends and family. This comparison thing is a struggle that I've had for awhile now, and in dealing with it there have been periods of time where I did not get on FB for weeks. That didn't solve the problem...so FB is not the issue, it's how I use FB or any other social media-my motives. Just like any issue in life...if I run from it, but don't get to the root of it I don't solve anything. I’ve had to check my motives and really trust God as we dig this out together. Most of the comparing I’ve done has probably not been online, but in groups of people (especially at church, school, etc.) Thanks for reading this...I didn't intend for it to be so loooong:)