I had not spoken with my dear friend for several months, so we had a lot of catching up to do. About 45 minutes into the conversation, we had moved past “what’s been going on” and entered into “what’s around the bend.” I listened with genuine interest as my friend told me about travel plans, upcoming family milestones, a busy ministry schedule and potential home improvement projects. Life seemed a lot more exciting on the other end of the telephone. While I was truly interested in my friend’s life, I noticed a subtle shift in my heart as she shared her upcoming days.
“So enough about me,” she said. “What’s up with you?”
I knew she genuinely cared and wanted to know about my upcoming days. But for the life of me I couldn’t think of anything to tell her.
Comparison Shuts the Door on Authentic Relationships
Somewhere along the way I allowed my conversation with my friend to turn into a comparison trap. And I had shut down. She hadn’t done anything wrong by telling me what was going on in her full life. I had asked her to share. And we love each other; we don’t bait one another into one-upping.
But I had turned my focus from listening to my friend and appreciating what she had to share to taking inventory. I had pulled out the measuring tape and come up short.
The fact is, at the time of this conversation, I was approaching a season where God had cleared my calendar and relieved me of several responsibilities. The previous months had been filled with travel and home decorating projects and ministry responsibilities and some family celebrations. I had been looking forward to shifting down and breathing a little more freely in the coming weeks. And I had anticipated extended quiet times with God, hours spent reading, and an opportunity to refocus my ministry and gain some much needed perspective. I was exhausted from my own busy schedule and had gratefully welcomed the white space on my calendar…until I compared my life to my friend’s.
Comparison is a Distraction
Time I spend comparing myself to others is time that could have been spent engaging in authentic relationships, serving others, worshiping God and drawing closer to Him.
Instead of being distracted by comparison, I am wise to concentrate. I will glorify God and serve Him well when I focus on:
- Him, first and foremost, through worship and encounters in His Word.
- the race set before me…as in God’s calling on my life and His assignment for this very day.
- serving other people with genuine love and compassion.
- truth, instead of the enemy’s lies, which are fed by comparison.
- the unique, beautiful challenges and blessings God has given me.
In my last blog post I shared with you how the comparison trap has kept me from fulfilling God’s calling for me at times. We talked about why we never win with comparisons. If you haven’t read that post, you can check it out here.
But today I’d like to offer the first of several keys that will unlock this trap for us. Simply put, instead of comparing, concentrate.
Hebrews 12:1-3 says,
Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
This scripture tells us to fix our eyes on Jesus, to concentrate on Him. If you feel your eyes wandering, let them wander every time to Him. And did you also notice where Jesus set His gaze, as He walked this sod? Jesus concentrated on “the joy set before Him.” He desired to please His Father more than anything else. He didn’t draw comparisons. And oh, He could have. He could have listed out His sins and totaled them up to a big fat zero. Then He could have listed ours and found them immeasurable. And as He stood accused of the sins He did not commit and sentenced to the death He should not have had to suffer, He could have veered from the Via Dolorosa.
But He didn’t. Instead of comparing, Jesus concentrated. And God was glorified, His purposes were accomplished and our lives were forever changed. Comparison didn’t consume Jesus; focus freed Him.
If you have struggled recently with the comparison trap (and we all do), I ‘d love for you to pray with me.
Lord, forgive me for the times when I have called into question Your divine and perfect plans for me by comparing them to the things You have called others to. I have made light of Your provision for me, Your calling on my life and the path You have chosen uniquely for me. Instead of looking around at others–their pursuits and calendars and opportunities and celebrations–help me trust that You have chosen well for me. You are a good God and I trust you to be good to me. Help me today to concentrate on Jesus, the author and perfecter of my faith story, just as He focused on the joy of pleasing You with the purchase of my salvation. In His precious name I pray, amen.
If you’re fighting the urge to compare yourself to others, you might benefit from my Bible study Satisfied…at Last! You can order it here, but I’ve also provided free audio downloads and listening guides. It’s a great study to do by yourself, with a friend or in a group.