Comparison traps are real, and we all fall into them at times. We see people who are smarter, richer, funnier, thinner, more successful, more attractive, more athletic….the list goes on and on. On the flip side, we may also see ourselves as better than others in one way or another. Comparing ourselves to others is tricky business because it gives us a false sense of our worth. When we compare ourselves to other people, we will always find those who have more accomplishments…or less…than we do, so if a person is better or more “successful” than us in one or more areas, we become discouraged, disillusioned, depressed, or insecure. But if the person is “not” as good as us in an area, then we can become prideful and believe we are “better” than others. For some people it is a pendulum where they swing back and forth between the two extremes. Yet, measuring your worth against others is a toxic endeavor because it is actually based on lies that we believe about ourselves and about others!
So, how do we break out of this deceptive thinking that accompanies comparing ourselves to others? You might be surprised to discover that the only way to truly become free from comparison traps is by comparing ourselves to someone! Wait…What? You are probably thinking I just contradicted myself.
And yes, although this may seem completely contradictory, the only true remedy to free ourselves from a cycle of comparison is to compare ourselves to JESUS. You see, because He was the only perfect “someone” who ever lived, he is the ONLY one we need to “compare” ourselves to. And, when we look at Him, we see ourselves as we really are: a flawed person in need of forgiveness! With Jesus as our model for comparison, we can be honest about the truth that we are sinners who desperately need a savior!
Jesus tells a story in Luke 18:9-14 that exemplifies what it means to see ourselves correctly.
“He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other.”
The Pharisee in this story exemplifies the problem almost all of us struggle with at some time or another, we delude ourselves into thinking we are doing alright compared to someone else that we deem “not together,” but the tax collector illustrates the appropriate way to see ourselves–as a sinner who needs God’s mercy! When we admit the truth that before a Holy God we are not “alright” and by faith trust in His ability to forgive, we will be justified (made right)!
The apostle Paul sums this up in Romans 3:22-24
We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.
This truth that because of Jesus, you are forgiven, you are righteous, you are accepted, you are a child of God, you are free…changes everything! It changes your attitude, it changes your actions, it changes your relationships and it changes your eternity!
In the next few blog posts, we will dig a little deeper into how seeing yourself clearly, not in comparison to others, but as you are before God, can literally change every aspect of your life! Next week we will work on attitude “adjustments.”
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