With the significant presence of social media in our lives, it is easy to fall into the trap of comparing ourselves with others. We must be on our guard: this practice is carnal and adds nothing beneficial to our lives.
It is difficult not to compare ourselves to others. A typical example of this is the gym. When we go to a particular machine and the machine is still set to the setting of the person before us. If they were using a 40 kg weight, and you are unable to raise more than 20 kg, you will feel weak. But if they were only using 5 kg, you would be proud to 15 kg more.
You might say that a little comparison in the form of competition, can encourage us to go beyond ourselves.It’s always great to try and improve, but our motivation should never be to be better than our neighbor. Indeed Paul does compare the Christian life to an Olympic race. “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:14 KJV) He repeats it in 2 Timothy 4:7 (KJV) “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.” The apostle never said that he ran the race to arrive before another, or to “beat” another runner. He ran to win the prize, which seems to mean that all runners, regardless of their speed, will all win the same prize provided they finish the race.
Jesus as well did not appreciate that Peter compared his fate to that of another disciple. “When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?” Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” (John 21: 21-22 NIV)
When we begin to compare our lives to others, we can quickly become sad. “All my friends are married, but not me.” This way of thinking is generally rooted in envy, which leads to jealousy. We may not covet our friend’s spouse, but we covet their social status. Remember envy, jealousy, and covetousness, are sins! In fact, God hates covetousness so much, that He included it in his 10 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 NIV) God knew that covetousness destroys our joy and our self-esteem, and He wants us to be happy.
So why should we stop comparing ourselves to others?
1: Because God says not to, as we have just explained.
2: Because this is detrimental to our self-esteem. Either we feel miserable that we did not measure up to our neighbor or we feel superior to them. On this point Paul was clear. “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.” (Philippians 2.3 KJV)
3: Because we never have the complete picture. Yes, your neighbor may have something more than you do, but you do not know what they sacrificed to get it. The result you see on social media is the end of a long process. You probably do not have all the details, so you can not judge adequately. Do not envy the success of another: just share their joy. “Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.” (Romans 12:15 KJV)
4: Because it’s a lost battle. The comparison game has no end. If you succeed in copying a person’s success, you will immediately find another person at another level and you will no longer be satisfied with your position. “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” (Philippians 4:11-12 NIV)
Comparison with others comes to rob us of our time of worship and praise to God. Our prayers become complaints and requests, instead of being grateful. Even our health can be affected. “A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.” (Proverbs 14.30 NIV) Compare yourself to Christ, seek to be like Him by firmly holding the hand of the Holy Spirit. Then you will then be on a much better path.