We can all get caught up in comparison. It’s so easy to. And it’s easy to find ourselves trapped in the spiraling, negative, jealous thoughts comparing ourselves to another causes.
Comparison steals our joy - and much more. Comparison robs us of self-esteem, causing us to feel we are not good enough as ourselves, but must be like someone else. It snatches away our peace, causing us to be restless in our daily lives, waiting for the next big thing. It carries off our contentment, leaving us dissatisfied with our own lives and chasing after someone else’s. It removes unity, causing feelings of aloneness and isolation.
Comparison is really a form of coveting, which God addressed in Exodus 20, when He gave His people the Ten Commandments:
“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” Exodus 20:17
When we get caught up in comparison, we’re believing the lie that our satisfaction and significance is found in something other than Jesus. It’s found in whatever they have - a lot of friends, the perfect body, a cute boyfriend, an amazing career, fun adventures - and we begin to covet what they have, enviously wishing for it, believing we’ll be content if we just have it.
But that is a lie. The only source of true joy and contentment is Jesus. And we find joy in Him when we live life - when we live our life - in relationship with Him. Our significance isn’t found in any amount of friends, followers, or likes on cute photos. It’s found in Jesus, the One who sacrificially loved us. (Ephesians 5:2) We weren’t created to be like someone else, we were created to be in love with Jesus.
The enemy uses comparison to stir up jealousy to get in the way of our relationship with Jesus, and our relationships with others. He wants to get us focused on and chasing after something other than Jesus, and living selfishly rather than reflecting Jesus’ selfless love.
That is why God calls His children to remove jealousy from their hearts, because He loves you and doesn’t want anything to get in the way of His relationship with you and His love pouring through you.
“Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.” Galatians 5:26
“Rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind.”
1 Peter 2:1
“Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy.” Romans 13:13
So what can we do when comparison creeps in? How can we find freedom from jealousy and live our lives with joy in Jesus?
We need to fix our eyes on Jesus and find our satisfaction in Him. When we compare, we’re focusing on people and things and self. Our gaze is shifting to something other than Jesus and we’re trying to find satisfaction in something other than Him. We combat comparing thoughts by keeping our hearts and minds focused on and filled with Jesus.
We fix our eyes on Jesus by spending time with Him in prayer and worship.
In prayer and worship, we’re submitting and surrendering our desires to God, and He’s creating in us a heart that is after His own heart.
There’s nothing wrong with having dreams and desires, but let’s desire Jesus first, and have desires that are in line with His heart, seeking after Him rather than chasing after other things. When we are surrendered to Jesus, we’re able to dream hope-filled, God-sized dreams for our own lives, instead of simply wishing after what she has.
We fix our eyes on Jesus by reading God’s Word.
God’s Word reveals God’s character and will to us. God’s Word speaks truth to our hearts, and exposes the lies the enemy uses with comparison; lies that say you must be like her to have worth and be loved; lies that say you need to have a life like her to have joy and peace.
Filling you heart with Scripture, learning what God’s says about your identity in Jesus and the life He has for you, and choosing to stand on that truth, fights the lies.
We fix our eyes on Jesus by offering up praise and thanksgiving.
Comparison focuses on what we don’t have, and what it seems everyone else does have. It views our lives and ourselves through a negative lens. Praise and thanksgiving brings light for us to see all the good already in our lives, and lifts our eyes to the Giver of all good. Praise and thanksgiving helps us see the unique beauty God has woven in us, and replaces jealousy with humility.
We fix our eyes on Jesus by serving Him in serving others.
Comparison can cause us to feel isolated and alone, as if everyone else has the thing but us. Comparison is selfish and me-focused - all about what I want and what will make me happy - and it steals away our compassion for others.
Instead of looking at someone and comparing yourself to her, look for ways you can be a friend and share Jesus’ love. Serve, encourage, compliment, listen, laugh, help out, give, be present, hug, smile, do life - in real life - with the people God has placed in your life. You’ll find connection, purpose, encouragement, and probably have a whole lot of fun.
We fix our eyes on Jesus by giving our hearts time and space to refocus.
While it may seem to come out of nowhere, chances are we can think of things that tend to trigger comparing thoughts. We need to be intentional in taking those thoughts captive and making them obedient to Jesus. We need to allow the Holy Spirit to renew our minds.
A big trigger for me, and probably one for you too, is social media. We scroll and compare our everyday life, with all it’s imperfections and hard stuff and messiness, to perfectly filtered squares that have little hearts and likes beneath them.
Every so often, step back from the screen and give your heart some time and space to refocus and renew. Be present in your life. Be present in Jesus’ Presence, and be filled with joy instead of jealousy. (Psalm 16:11)