A former American president, Theodore Roosevelt, once said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Many times I have thought that, in comparison to someone else, I am always worse.
“Why is it so easy for her to talk to people? Everyone loves her. Why am I not more like that? I wish I were more outgoing and popular.”
“People always ask him for advice and help. They never ask me. I guess my help is not really worth anything.”
“He handles life so well. Why do I constantly feel like I am struggling to know what to do?”
“I wish . . . it must be nice . . . it would be easier . . . why not me . . .?”
God knows and plans all things
These thoughts steal the joy right out of life. A day that was full of sunshine can suddenly be dark and depressing. Why? Because suddenly I am not good enough when I compare myself with someone else. My life is not good enough compared to another’s.
But God has not created us to be all the same. He created each one of us with a unique personality, talents, and gifts. Unique circumstances. And yes, that includes me. To deny that, is to say that God didn’t know what He was doing when He made me, when He planned my life. If I believe in God, then I believe that He created me just as I am, and that He has a personal care for me.
“You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered!” Psalm 139:16-17 (NLT).
Now it is my task to use what He has given me to serve and bless others. And I can’t do that by looking at someone else and wishing I was more like them.
In the gospel of John we read the story of how Peter asked Jesus about John. In reply Jesus said to him, “What is that to you? You follow me.” John 21:20-22.
It’s actually that simple. There is one thing that matters, and that is that I follow Jesus. It doesn’t matter what this one or that one does. It’s none of my business, actually! I must follow Jesus. If I really work with this in my life I will become free from jealousy and from thinking I’m less than others, free from unhappiness, and free from the unrest that comes when I compare myself with others.
The works that God planned for me
So what I need to do is stop comparing myself with other people, and just be faithful to God’s leading in my own life. I can’t be like this one or that one, someone who seems to be the “right kind” of person, who seems to have all the gifts and talents. What I can do is live my life according to God’s Word.
Paul writes, “Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.” 1 Timothy 4:16. If I focus on working on my own development, on becoming free of the sins that live in my human nature, I will become exactly the person that God wanted me to be when He created me. I will be able to do the works that He has planned for me to do.
“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” Ephesians 2:10 (NLT).
So when I’m tempted to compare myself with others, I know what I need to do. I pray to God that He will help me: “Thank you, God, that you have made me just as I am. Help me to be humble so that I can see how to follow Jesus in the works that have been planned for me.”
If I stay focused on following Jesus, and not wishing I was someone else, then He will give me the help I need to serve and bless others using what He has given me, and to simply be myself in purity before His face alone.