Discontentment & Comparison

Discontentment & comparison often accompany one another.

Comparison will always kill joy, whether it's comparing UP or comparing DOWN.

COMPARING UP? 
It is interesting to consider that when we compare, if our hearts are yearning for self-pity, we compare up.  

If it's about our home, we compare ourselves to the gal at church or the rich cousin with the nicer home.  We don't compare ourselves to the poor women at church who just got evicted from her apartment because her husband lost his job.  Nor do we, in that moment, compare ourselves to the woman whose situation is slightly worse off (financially speaking).

If it's about our appearance, we compare ourselves to the woman who can afford nice things, the one who gets regular mani/pedis, the one who buys department store makeup and has a gym membership.  We don't compare ourselves to the woman who has an even *TIGHTER* budget than our own.

OR COMPARING DOWN?
And when we compare, if our hearts are yearning for pride and self-worth, we compare down.

If it's about our home, we compare ourselves with the woman who hasn't a clue about decorating, or the one whose house is a pigsty.  When our soul's goal is pride, we don't compare ourselves to the woman with slightly more organizational know-how or design flair than we possess, or to the woman who has a better knack for putting colors and fabrics together.

If it's about our appearance, we compare ourselves to the haggard woman, the one with frumpy out-of-date clothes, or the one who is overweight and out of shape.

No matter which way it goes, comparison is ugly, tempting us to compare ourselves to the rich and beautiful for self-pity, or to the poor and ugly for a sense of superiority, never the opposite. 

And I'm not encouraging any of us to make the opposite comparisons, necessarily.

For the most part, I think we should avoid comparisons, although, very occasionally, comparisons can be helpful (i.e., Last summer, when a friend received heartbreaking news, it put my own woes and temporary grumps and gripes in perspective of her great loss, and gave me good perspective.  Her hurts silenced my complaints.).

Mostly, though, I think we should opt to dropkick the comparisons to the curb, and feed our minds with truth.

DON'T COMPARE, CONSIDER
Instead of comparing, the Bible encourages us to "consider" certain things--
  • "Fear the LORD and serve him... consider what great things He has done for you." ~1 Samuel 12:24
  • "Stop and consider the wondrous works of God." ~Job 37:14
  • "Blessed is the one who considers the poor! In the day of trouble, the LORD delivers him." ~Psalm 41:1
  • "Whoever is wise... let him consider the steadfast love of the LORD." ~Psalm 107:43
  • "Look at the ant, o sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise." ~Proverbs 6:6
  • "In the day of prosperity be joyful, and in the day of adversity consider: God has made the one as well as the other." ~Ecclesiastes 7:14
  • "Why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these." ~Matthew 6:28-29
  • "Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them.  Of how much more value are you than the birds!" ~Luke 12:24
  • "You must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus." ~Romans 6:11
  • "I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing to the glory that is to be revealed to us." ~Romans 8:18
  • "Consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth.  But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world... so that no human being might boast in the presence of God" ~1 Corinthians 1:26
  • "Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, but encouraging one another." ~Hebrews 10:24-25
  • "[Look] to Jesus, ...who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted." ~Hebrews 12:2-3
  • "Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God.  Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith." ~Hebrews 13:7

When we keep scripture as our standard, rather than people, our perspective changes.

We begin to consider all the things God has done for us... all the things He has done, period.  We consider ourselves in light of eternity, and consider ourselves in light of the vast universe He holds and cares for each day.  We get a vision for life that is bigger than ourselves & our comparisons.

Look to what GOD tells you to focus on, rather than what Facebook, magazines, Pinterest, and even your own deceitful heart, tell you to focus on.

Comparison kills; considering Scripture gives life. 



Chickens image courtesy of bplanet/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

9 comments:

Hearth said...

Beautiful.

Anonymous said...

Dearest Jess, thanks for such a gr8 poat and being an instrument. I needed a reminder of what God has done. In 'comparison' to that nothing ''compares' ;)) and with that comes thankfullness with a peacefull heart: tx for the reminder.

Bless you and the family.

PrAyers & thanks from South Africa

Maritza

Erin said...

Hi Jess,

The Lord has used and is using your blog to reveal a lot of sin and idols in my life, and so I thank you for writing.

I've long thought you and my friend would enjoy each other's blogs--you seem to be similar in theology, parenting, living abroad at different points, and interests. And she wrote a series on the types of comparison that are good--that lead us to emulation in a godly way. So I thought you might enjoy it:
http://partofthemain.wordpress.com/series/wall-jumpers/

Thank you again.
Erin

Jess said...

Hi Erin,
Thank you so much for sharing that link.

Yes, I think that type of "comparison" can be a WONDERFUL tool for God changing us... it's the gist of that last verse on the list-- "Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith." ~Hebrews 13:7

Unfortunately, I think too many women in our culture are tempted to comparing up or comparing down without growth as the goal... but yes-- imitating others, as a means of stretching and growing, is a wonderful way to grow.

I definitely think God means for us to get over our pride & look to others as examples in various areas.

In fact, one of the most significant ways God has grown me as an adult is to look for the strengths of others, and to take principles and lessons from their strengths. What can I learn from the woman who has a clean home? What can I learn from the woman who ministers to pre- and post-abortive women? What can I learn from the gal who has been a mom at home for 10+ years? What can I learn from the woman who has good relationships with her teen children? Etc.

It's a wonderful way to grow, if we can just get over ourselves and use it as a goal rather than as a means of self-condemnation.

Thanks for writing-- I'm glad to read your friend's blog-- great stuff!
~Jess

Candice said...

Great reminders. I think you could also say that comparisons in a positive sense (or maybe observations) of others' gifts and talents should cause us to rejoice in God's good and varied gift-giving. He intends to bless us through the different gifts and strengths of others in the church. I marvel at the wonderful variety He gives!

Jess said...

I struggle so much with comparison. Having something else to focus/meditate on really calms the storm inside. It is not enough to take off the old man, we must put on Christ!

Kristen said...

here is another wonderful article to read: http://prayforian.blogspot.ca/2013/06/when-we-cause-other-people-to-be.html

Kristen said...

Here is another wonderful article to read:
http://prayforian.blogspot.ca/2013/06/when-we-cause-other-people-to-be.html

alli said...

Not sure if this is to late but my goodness one of the best posts on this topic, i struggle so bc i have dysfunction family, i get jealous of rich ppl who seem nit a care in the world, i am without a home of my own and struggle with energy to work, im single and cant imagine at my age how i would mother anyone so i am childless. It seems like others have such better life then i do and God have given me less im trying to reconcile and be thankful tho sometimes i truly struggle with idea that He has been unfair to me and kept me from good things i dunno. Like i dont want to complain because it can always been.