The dangerous way comparison can make you prideful
Being a new mom was the scariest time of my life. I loved my new baby so much, and all I wanted to do was be the best mom I could be for him.
A few other moms at church were using a popular book on parenting and bought me a copy. They called me daily to make sure I was following it to the letter. One mom even told me if I didn’t do exactly what it said, my family would end up an ungodly mess. When I stepped away from that book because it did not fit my parenting style, those moms made it clear I wasn’t up to their standard as a mom.
The Danger of Comparison
The thing is, those moms and I had quite a lot in common. We all just wanted the best for our children. We were all insecure about our abilities to do the task and we recognized we needed help along the way.
They found security in the rigid checklist of the parenting book. If they could check off every item, they were good parents. The only problem was when they encountered someone not living by that checklist, it set off an alarm that they were in the presence of a “bad mom” who either needed to be set straight for her own sake or avoided so the “bad mom” germs didn’t spread to them.
The problem with defining success through comparison is we will always be either looking up at someone or looking down on someone. Either way, we will end up with a sore neck because we aren’t focused in the right direction.
How to Avoid the Comparison Trap
1. Don’t let your checklist become an idol.
A set of standards can be a good tool in getting things accomplished. But if a checklist is all we need to please God, then why did Jesus have to die? Why did He send the Holy Spirit to be our helper?
The Pharisees had a huge checklist, yet missed the mark as far as God was concerned. The rules they created to help them better serve God became a false god over time. They forgot to always speak their truth with love. They forgot to show mercy and extend grace.
The Bible says our righteous acts are like filthy rags in comparison to God’s standard of holiness (Isaiah 64:6). We need Jesus every single day to guide us because apart from Him, our nature is not kind nor loving. The people we think don’t measure up to our standard need Jesus, not our checklist.
2. Don’t assume your way is the right way.
Some things in the Bible are clearly labeled as sin, and we are right to follow God’s commands on those things. But in other instances, what to do isn’t so clearly defined.
The Bible doesn’t give us a set schedule for bedtimes or feeding babies. There are scriptures on gluttony, but nothing about whether a low-carb diet is superior to a low-fat diet.
So in the areas with no edict from God, extend grace instead of judgment (Matthew 7:1-5). Do you like to feel judged? Neither do those around you. Jesus lived a perfect life and never agreed with sin, yet the lost felt comfortable in His company.
3. Go to Jesus with your judgment of others.
In the Bible, Martha goes crying to Jesus about her lazy sister not helping. Martha was sure she was right and that Jesus would agree that her hard work was superior to her sister’s choice to sit and listen. But Jesus said, “Martha, Martha...you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed. Mary has chosen what is better…” (Luke 10:38-42)
Martha’s perspective was off, and it caused her to judge her sister harshly. When we complain about people to Jesus, He sets us straight on what is wrong in our own heart. Once we allow God to remove the plank from our own eye, then He can show us if there really is a speck in someone else's eye and how to help them with it (Matthew 7:5).
Comparison creates an “us vs. them” mentality that leads to wrong assumptions about others and self-righteousness in us. None of us has arrived spiritually. We are all shedding our old ways and embracing new ones. When we seek God first before we judge, we give Him the power to change our own hearts so He can use us to point others to Him.