What Comparison Does
A few days ago, I had the pleasure of chatting with a friend. She was telling me of the hobby of water color painting that she had taken up in the last couple years. As she talked about her art and how she gave her work to special people as a gift of herself, her face lit up with pure enjoyment. It was special to watch.
Within our conversation, I asked her about the learning process. Among the first things she mentioned was the frustration she would feel having completed a project. Her flowers never looked the way they should. Her scenes did not turn out right. It took the repeated, trusted advise of her teacher to come to realize that she saw things, and painted things, differently. And that was OK.
Comparison destroys freedom.
In art, the freedom comparison destroys is creativity. In the spiritual life, comparison destroys the freedom to become who God intends for you to be. To run the race set before you.
One of the ways the Bible refers to comparison is to covet. Coveting usurps our freedom. When we covet, we become slaves to what we do not have. That new car. Free time. A different body. More kids. A spouse. Popularity. Vacation. We miss the work that God is doing in our lives, the path He has us on, because we are too busy comparing ourselves with others.
Elsewhere in the Bible comparison is seen as judging. Humorously illustrated by the person who tries to take a sliver of wood out of someone’s eye when in their own eye is a log. When we judge, we become slaves to finding someone worse than us, or making them feel worse than us, so that we feel better. We expect the potter to be creating pots that all look and act the same.
Yet, it is not only our freedom that comparison destroys, it shackles those around us as well.
Our wives feel inadequate against the weight of our expectations for how they will look or act. It robs our kids of the security of our love when we say “your friend [name] would not act like that”. The headship and masculinity of men are ripped away with the question “why don’t you earn as much as [name]?”
When we compare, we do not love. Not others. Not ourselves. And not God.
Each of us has been created uniquely. As a result, our circumstances and spiritual path are different as well. We need to run the race set before us by God. I am not running the race of my pastor, my dad, or Billy Graham. To try to would destroy my freedom. To try to would be comparison.
In what ways are you most susceptible to the destruction of comparison?