I went through a season in my life when I was single where I struggled financially and had a hard time with the salary I was getting paid for my job. I had gotten my bachelor’s degree from UCLA and received my master’s degree from A.T. Still University….accumulated a lot of debt in school loans because of these degrees…and couldn’t get past how much…really how little…money I was actually making!
I looked at some of my friends around me in different occupational fields and they were making more money than I was…and didn’t have nearly the degrees that I did! As I continued to focus on comparing myself and my job to others, I began to grow discontent and jealous.
Do you ever compare yourself with others? Do you compare your life with the life others have? How do making these comparisons make you feel?
Comparison is defined as “the examination of the similarities and differences of two or more things, ideas or people.”
As women…even Christian women…we can so easily get caught up comparing ourselves with others! We live in a world that is saturated with people and images of what the world says we need to look like, what the world says we need to have, and what the world says we need to be.
We compare ourselves to what other women look like…what other women have…and who other women are!
We compare ourselves as wives and mothers…our accomplishments/ abilities or lack thereof…our marriages…our families…our husbands…our children…even their accomplishments/abilities! We compare our homes…our jobs…our education/ degrees…our shoes and our purses (yes I am being facetious, but there is some truth here too)…just about anything!…The list of what we women compare with others is endless!
Comparisons are not necessarily bad…but especially as Christian women, let’s not be fooled or deceived about this!
If comparisons go unchecked and you begin to focus on them, they can consume you…pull you away from who you really are…pull you away from who God uniquely created you to be…and pull you down an unhealthy and even destructive road.
I am calling this blog “The Comparison Seed” because comparison is like a “seed”…a deeply planted seed that grows…and if not dealt with, the seed can grow into discontentment, jealousy, hatred …sin. If this comparison seed can be prevented from taking root in our hearts, then we can stop these negative feelings from developing and even consuming our lives.
When I was going through the season I described above, I read a passage in the bible that gave me a totally different perspective about making comparisons and specifically for me…comparing my job and earnings to others.
It is called The Parable of the Vineyard Workers (Matthew 20:1-16).
20 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. 2 He agreed to pay them a denariusfor the day and sent them into his vineyard. (FYI…a denarius is a Roman silver coin in the days of our Savior and Apostles worth about 15 cents. It was the pay for a day’s work.)
3 “About nine in the morning he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. 4 He told them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ 5 So they went.
“He went out again about noon and about three in the afternoon and did the same thing. 6 About five in the afternoon he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, ‘Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’
7 “‘Because no one has hired us,’ they answered.
“He said to them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard.’
8 “When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.’
9 “The workers who were hired about five in the afternoon came and each received a denarius. 10 So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. 11 When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. 12 ‘These who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’
13 “But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? 14 Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. 15 Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’
16 “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”
Now this passage is actually a teaching about salvation and God’s grace and generosity. However, what really spoke to me was the comparison that the first vineyard workers made with the other workers who did not work as many hours as they did. These first workers expected to get paid more even though they agreed to the initial amount of one denarius. They began to grumble and complain showing discontentment and jealousy when they turned their eyes upon the other workers and what they were getting paid.
And did you catch Jesus’ reply? So convicting and eye opening to me! Jesus states that He is not being unfair and asks if the workers are being envious because of His generosity.
God does not want us to be jealous of what He has given another person. He wants us to focus on His gracious gifts to us and to be thankful for what we have. When we compare ourselves with others, it can be a form of jealousy that results from not trusting in the Lord’s love and fairness.
There are a number of instances in the bible where the comparison seed has taken root in the hearts of men and women and consequently the seed has grown into feelings of discontentment, jealousy, and even strong hatred.
1) Saul became jealous of David for his success as a soldier in his army.
This made Saul very angry. “What’s this?” he said. “They credit David with ten thousands and me with only thousands. Next they’ll be making him their king!” So from that time on Saul kept a jealous eye on David.1 Samuel 18:8-9 NLT
2) Joseph’s brothers became so jealous of him…to the point of conspiring to kill him.
These patriarchs were jealous of their brother Joseph, and they sold him to be a slave in Egypt… 7:9
3) Rachel was jealous of her sister Leah because she couldn’t bare their husband Jacob children and Leah could.
When Rachel saw that she was not bearing Jacob any children, she became jealous of her sister. So she said to Jacob, “Give me children, or I’ll die!” Genesis 30:1 NIV
What does the bible say about comparisons because clearly even bible folk weren’t immune to this comparison seed taking root in their lives.
Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud… 1 Corinthians 13:4
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! 2 Corinthians 10:12
Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ. Galatians 1:10 NIV
Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else. Galatians 6:4 NLT
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2 ESV
So why do we as women struggle so much with comparison and how can we prevent this “comparison seed” from taking root in our lives?
1) Know that God has made you fearfully and wonderfully inside and out (Psalm 139:14) …uniquely created you with unique gifts and a unique purpose for your life! …Not to be compared to anyone else!
[Sisters] think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things – and the things that are not – to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before Him. It is because of Him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God – that is our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: ‘Let him who boasts boast in the Lord. 1Corinthians 1:26-31NIV
2) Know that your contentment and security lies in an unchanging God…nothing in this world will satisfy or fulfill you…only Jesus! Comparison many times stems from our own shortcomings and insecurities.
Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:19-21NIV
And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul? Matthew 16:26 NLT
3) Fill yourself with God’s word and what he says about you as His daughter …know and accept who you are in Christ!
…Even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as [daughters] through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will…Ephesians 1:4-5 ESV
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 1 Peter 2:9 NIV
If we can focus on becoming who God created us to be…instead of who we think we should be or who the world wants us to be….instead of what we need to have or what the world wants you to have…instead of how you think you should look or how the world wants you to look…We can experience a sense of peace and security that will enable us to resist focusing on what everyone else around us is doing. And then we can focus on the God who wants to fulfill His purpose and destiny in us and through us by using the abilities and gifts that he has uniquely blessed each of us with!
Today, my prayer is that you and I can live our lives walking in the fullness of God, recognizing the unique abilities and gifts he has blessed us each with, and knowing…and knowing …and knowing… without a doubt in our minds…whose we are…and who we are in Christ!
1) Do you compare yourself to others? Why?
2) How does comparing yourself to others make you feel?
3) If it causes negative feelings to develop, then you must realize that the comparison seed can be taking root in your heart.
See points above about how to prevent the comparison seed from taking root in your life.