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Falling into the comparison trap can begin the second you roll out of bed in the morning and pick up your phone. You log onto social media and are immediately inundated with these pictures of perfection that drag you straight into the comparison trap. You begin to feel as though your life just doesn’t measure up. But, are they really all they seem? What does the Bible say about comparing yourself to others?
We will look at how this comparison is destructive and deceptive as well as how you can stop comparing yourself to others and embrace your God-given identity!
The Comparison Trap And The Social Media Trap
You log onto Facebook and you see images of perfectly groomed children in their new clothes, standing outside a beautiful home, on steps dripping in colorful fall mums and beautiful decor! They are posing for their first day of school with chalkboard signs, handwritten in flawless penmanship.
Literally a picture perfect family!
You look back at your kids who are still arguing over who gets into the bathroom first, hair all disheveled, clothes not matching and the bus is arriving in 10 minutes. You’ll not only be happy just to get a “first day of school” photo, but to take one that won’t look like they were raised by wolves!
You consider, just for a moment, photoshopping your kids’ faces onto an image you find on Pixabay!
How can their life be so perfect while yours seems to be a mess?
Comparing yourself to others is often comparing yourself to a myth and lands you straight into the comparison trap.
The Comparison Trap – It is Not Reality
The truth is, their life ISN’T perfect! In fact, they may be watching other people feeling that they themselves come up short! So sometimes they create these perfectly staged Instagram images, filtered and cropped, to present what they WANT life to be like, not always what it really is.
What you see on social media does not always depict what is real! In some cases it is, but oftentimes people put their best staged foot forward online.
Social media has allowed us all to have our own mini reality shows that aren’t reality at all! We can all star in our own show and depict any life we want the world to see. And in the process, it is causing people to feel they are lacking something, whether it be in their marriage, their home, their career, their parenting.
It is causing us as women to fall into that well-crafted comparison trap and to look at images of perfect women on social media and feel we cannot measure up and the truth is we likely can’t because even THEY don’t measure up! No one does! Images are filtered, cropped and smoothed out to the point it doesn’t even resemble reality anymore!
It is damaging!
So, what exactly does comparison do and how do you stop comparing yourself to others?
What Comparison Does
Comparison breeds complacency
When we are trying to be LIKE someone else, we are not moving forward in the area God wants US to be moving in. We cannot move forward with God's plan for our life if we are too busy watching other people's lives and ministries on Facebook.
Comparison destroys contentment
You all of a sudden are no longer happy with what you have! We are trying to create that magazine life where we recreate a "look". Many of us have rooms that were "inspired" by maybe Chip and Joanna Gaines...but we cannot recreate a life in the same way we recreate a room. We cannot create a ministry in the same way we recreate an outfit we see on a fashion blog. We need to be thankful for the blessings God has given us. The same way you are comparing yourself to someone on social media, someone is praying for what YOU have. Comparison implies in some way that God cheated you out of something someone else has. This was exactly what bred a murderous jealousy in Cain.
Comparison kills confidence
We begin to find our confidence in other people's approval rather than finding it in God. God created us all for a distinct purpose. When we have confidence in our God-given purpose we don't feel the need to compare ourselves to others. Once the enemy makes us take a glance at what someone else has he can make us question what WE have.
Comparison creates contempt
It makes us despise our blessings. Esau despised his birthright because Jacob had something he wanted and he gave up his blessing for momentary satisfaction. Comparing our marriage to someone else's, for example, can breed contempt for our spouse and can lead to sinful rebellion (or infidelity).
Comparing Yourself to Others – Despising the Blessings
God is the author of our lives. Trust me, the lives you see depicted on Facebook and Instagram are snapshots in time! They are often staged. They are often filtered. Those perfect kids were probably screaming at each other ten minutes before!
That perfect marriage you see depicted on Instagram may be full of surface level perfection but deep down no one is talking to each other.
Teddy Roosevelt said “Comparison is the thief of joy”. He was right in many ways. When we compare ourselves to others, it makes us feel like we are lacking something in ourselves.
Many times people fall into a comparison trap and feel the need to create the image of a perfect life on social media because they feel they lack something in real life! So they create images of the things they may lack so the world doesn’t see their pain.
It robs them of peace and joy because they are focused on being like others rather than who God created them to be. They are comparing themselves and their lives to man and not to God’s standards.
Comparing ourselves to others is in essence saying we are not grateful for who God made us to be and the blessings and gifts He has bestowed on us.
What Does The Bible Say About Comparison?
The Bible is full of people who lived their lives in the comparison trap. So what does the Bible say about comparison?
Jacob and Esau
Esau and Jacob, as mentioned earlier! Not only did Esau want Jacob’s stew enough that he was willing to give up his birthright for it, but Jacob wanted his father’s blessing that was reserved for Esau enough to take it! The Bible says Esau “despised” his birthright. He hated what was his because he wanted something else. Both wanted something the other had and it created enmity between the brothers.
“Once when Jacob was cooking stew, Esau came in from the field, and he was exhausted. And Esau said to Jacob, “Let me eat some of that red stew, for I am exhausted!” (Therefore his name was called Edom.
Jacob said, “Sell me your birthright now.” Esau said, “I am about to die; of what use is a birthright to me?” Jacob said, “Swear to me now.” So he swore to him and sold his birthright to Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew, and he ate and drank and rose and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright.” ESV
Cain and Abel
Genesis 4:2-8 tells us about the two sons of Adam and Eve:
“Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. And Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock.
The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast. Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted?
But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.” NIV
Cain killed his brother out of a jealousy that came with comparison. He didn’t look at what God wanted from him. He only looked at the fact that his brother was acceptable and he was not. Rather than fix the issues that he had with sinfulness, he chose instead to eliminate his “competition”.
Joseph and His Brothers
In one of the most well-known Bible stories, Joseph was the favorite son of his father Jacob because his mother was the love of Jacob’s life!
Joseph was not only his father’s favorite, which I am sure was plenty enough to get his brother’s riled up, but our friend Joseph also had dreams of superiority that he all too willingly shared with them! His dreams seemed to indicate he would be in a position above them.
They compared themselves to Joseph and already felt they came up short in their father’s love! After all, their father gave Joseph the famous multi-colored coat! So they had to live with seeing him in this coat that just screamed “I’m Dad’s favorite” to them…and then these dreams!!
So they decide to get rid of Joseph and consider killing him, but soon give in to greed and sell him as a slave instead.
We know the rest of the story…Joseph excels, moves up in the world and soon becomes second to Pharaoh and saves the Egyptians (and his brothers) from famine!
God saved Joseph who was clearly the victim of jealousy and the comparison trap (although much of it was self-inflicted).
“Now Israel (Jacob) loved Joseph more than any of his other sons, because he had been born to him in his old age; and he made an ornate robe for him. When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him.
Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more. He said to them, “Listen to this dream I had: We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it.”
His brothers said to him, “Do you intend to reign over us? Will you actually rule us?” And they hated him all the more because of his dream and what he had said.
Then he had another dream, and he told it to his brothers. “Listen,” he said, “I had another dream, and this time the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.”
When he told his father as well as his brothers, his father rebuked him and said, “What is this dream you had? Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow down to the ground before you?” His brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the matter in mind.” NIV
How to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others and Avoid That Comparison Trap Completely
So we know about the damage comparison can do to us as believers, but how do you stop comparing yourself to others and keep yourself out of the comparison trap?
- Grain of Salt – Take what you see on social media with a grain of salt. When you look at Facebook and Instagram, try to remember that it is usually a “best foot forward” situation. Just because it appears to be perfect doesn’t mean it is. The key to stop comparing yourself to others and falling into the comparison trap is to realize much of what you see is through a filter.
- Count Your Blessings – Seems simple and it is but we often forget this when the enemy has us comparing ourselves to someone else. If you are a blogger, rather than feel like you’re not as good as another because they have more pageviews, stop and thank God for how He is using YOU and the individual path He has you on. If you are looking at other women who seem to be able to parent flawlessly while you feel fortunate to get a shower in this week, remember that your walk in not the same as someone else’s and thank God for what He has blessed you with! We all have something someone else is praying for! So be thankful for where God has you and don’t try to replicate where He has placed someone else (and see #1 again!)
- Read the Word – Stop comparing yourself to others and stay out of the comparison trap on Facebook, get out your Bible and see what God has to say about you! Your value and worth is not determined by Facebook likes, blog pageviews, hearts on Instagram! Your worth and value is determined by God and you are who He says you are! (and see #1 again!)
- Pray – If you are really struggling with jealousy and comparison, take it to God in prayer! Ask Him to help you to see your purpose and your identity in Him. Many times, we compare because we don’t feel we have a clear view of our own purpose. Ask Him to help you to see it so you can stop comparing yourself to others and their walk! (and see #1 again)
Stop Falling Into the Comparison Trap – You are Chosen For This Place
You are a beautiful daughter of the King and as such He has chosen you for a purpose and plan and where you are right now is a step on that path! It’s important to remember, you were not chosen for someone else’s journey! You were chosen for yours! Falling into the comparison trap can leave you feeling less than enough!
So stop comparing yourself to others!! Your marriage is not supposed to look like someone else’s. Your kids are not supposed to be just like someone else’s. And your ministry is not supposed to be like someone else’s. You are uniquely designed by your creator as you are and not like anyone else.
So choose to embrace the beauty in who He made you to be and ask Him to direct your steps and give you guidance if you feel lost along the way. Truly, comparison IS the thief of joy! You can stop comparing yourself to others when you know who you are in Christ!
What are some ways you have struggled with comparison and how you stop comparing yourself to others? Have you found ways to stop the comparison trap? Share in the comments!
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Scripture quotations are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved
Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™
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