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Spiritual Growth - Living a Life of Faith

The Comparison Trap – What Does the Bible Say About Comparison?

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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!
 

A blonde haired woman looking enviously to the side at someone and a text overlay that says The Comparison Trap - What Does the Bible Say About Comparison?

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.

Or maybe it’s a picture of a loving couple, frolicking on a beach in the Caribbean or standing outside their new sprawling estate with keys dangling in hand announcing their new home purchase! 

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 haven’t had a vacation in years and you just called the plumber for the third time in the past six months and you feel like your house is falling apart!

You consider, just for a moment, photoshopping your family’s 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! Sometimes people create these perfectly staged “Instagram moments”, 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! It causes envy, covetousness and can erode our own lives as we begin to lose gratitude and contentment!

So, let’s look closer at what comparison does and how do you stop comparing yourself to others?

What Comparison Does

Why We Should Not Compare Ourselves With Others

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.

An image of a woman with long brown hair in a trench coat sitting on a park bench looking sad and a text overlay that says "Comparison is the thief of joy - Teddy Roosevelt" - The Comparison Trap

Many times people fall into this dangerous 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.

Genesis 25:29-34

“Now Jacob cooked a stew. When Esau came in from the field, he was exhausted, so Esau said to Jacob, “Please feed me some of this really red stuff, because I’m exhausted”—that is why he is called Edom. So Jacob said, “Sell your birthright to me today.”

Esau said, “Look, I’m about to die. Of whatever use is this to me—a birthright?” Jacob said, “Make a pledge to me now.”

So he made a pledge to him, and sold his birthright to Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew, and he ate and drank, then got up and left.

So Esau despised his birthright.” TLV


 

Cain and Abel

Genesis 4:2-8 tells us about the two sons of Adam and Eve:

Again, she gave birth to his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of flocks, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.

So it came about in the course of time that Cain brought an offering to the Lord of the fruit of the ground. Abel, on his part also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions.

And the Lord had regard for Abel and for his offering; but for Cain and for his offering He had no regard. So Cain became very angry and his countenance fell.

Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.”

Cain told Abel his brother. And it came about when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him.” NASB

Cain killed his brother out of a jealousy that came from 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 he had!! Oy Joseph!

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).

Genesis 37:3-11

“Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his other sons because he was the son of his old age. So he had made him a long-sleeved tunic. When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him and could not speak to him in shalom.

Then Joseph dreamed a dream and told his brothers—and they hated him even more.

He said to them, “Please listen to this dream I dreamed. There we were binding sheaves in the middle of the field. All of a sudden, my sheaf arose and stood upright. And behold, your sheaves gathered around and bowed down to my sheaf.”

“Will you truly be a king over us?” his brothers said to him. “Will you really rule over us?” So they hated him even more because of his dreams and because of his words.

But then he dreamed another dream and told it to his brothers, saying, “I have just dreamed another dream. Suddenly, there was the sun and the moon and the eleven stars bowing down to me!” He told it to his father as well as his brothers.

Then his father rebuked him and said to him, “What’s this dream you dreamed? Will we really come—your mother and I with your brothers—to bow down to the ground to you?” So his brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the speech in mind.” TLV

an infographic of 4 dangers of comparison including 1. Creating Complacency 2. Creating Discontent 3. Killing Confidence and 4. Creates Contempt - Comparison Trap

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 (and what you hear as well!). 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.

He has a very specific purpose for you in whatever situation you are in! You are not meant to have a life, a ministry, a marriage, a family, a business or anything else that is a carbon copy (remember those??) of someone else’s!

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 Messiah Yeshua!

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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NASB – “Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. Copyright by The Lockman Foundation

Tree of Life (TLV) – Scripture taken from the Holy Scriptures, Tree of Life Version*. Copyright © 2014,2016 by the Tree of Life Bible Society.  Used by permission of the Tree of Life Bible Society.

 

44 Comments

  1. These are all such good points. When we see picture-perfect posts, we can rejoice with others that they were able to capture such a moment instead of resenting them, knowing that we all have feet of clay. The Bible says we all face trials of various kinds, and that can help us understand that such moments are just moments, and they have trials and issues even if we can’t see hem.

  2. When Teddy R. said “comparison is the thief of joy,” he spoke well.
    Even so, God was able to use the evil that came into Joseph’s life for good.
    And I appreciate this helpful trail back to gratitude and acceptance of God’s gifts.

  3. ouch! Convicted again. This is a struggle for me. From seeing more successful bloggers or thinner women or those that seem to have it all together. Going to hit my knees and grab my Bible. Thank you, sister!

    1. Thank you so much Sue!! I struggle with the body image thing myself as well as falling into looking at the blogging thing….the enemy loves to distract us with comparison in so many areas, doesn’t he?

  4. The reminder to stop comparing yourself to others is so timely! Thank you!

    Knowing that we are only getting a snapshot, just a peek at their world should go a long way. Understanding that whether you see it or not, everyone is dealing with something. Yeah, their blog numbers are awesome, but what about their marriage? Or the marriage is great, but—

    Take that grain of salt to make sure that you are not comparing your beginning to someone else’s middle!

    1. Yes the enemy likes to make us focus on one aspect without realizing it is only one part of the overall picture. The grass is greener syndrome is very real and we have to realize what we see isn’t all there is. Thank you Aryn!!

  5. Teddy Roosevelt said it best, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Social media is annoying to me. The reasons I refuse to participate in much of it are what you mentioned in this post. It’s a breeding ground for comparison, insecurity, jealousy, envy, covetousness, haughtiness, etc. I want nothing to do with those behaviors. I often wonder how are people really enjoying life if they’re stopping every 5 minutes to take a picture of where they are and what they’re doing.

    1. Very true! We worry so much about getting that perfect image that we dont take the time to really be IN the moments!! Thank you Yvonne!!

  6. Amen, Diane! There is so much truth here. I keep trying to remember that God hasn’t equipped me for someone else’s story … He has been and will be with me and equip me for mine. Great post!

  7. Unfortunately, social media does make comparisons much more likely. As you point out, the way we present ourselves on social media is edited, not necessarily a good representation of real life. Accepting our god-given identity, then trying to be the best “me” I can be is a much better way.

  8. Hi Diane, hope you are feeling well. I love Pinterest and seeing all the pretty designs, I don’t cook a lot but I try a few recipes. I always hear women talk about giving up on perfection, we are supposed to perfect like He wants us to be. And I do know a blogger who posts a lot, she obviously put a lot of work into it, but since she has a white couch, the children are well behaved or not allowed in there, I suppose. I do agree, about staging and I don’t watch staged reality shows either. Comparison truly is a thief and we have all heard how we fall short, but then after Romans 3:23, is 24, grace.

  9. Powerful post, Diane. Comparing ourselves to others comes naturally to us humans. And oh, doesn’t the enemy just love it! A few years ago, I listened to a podcast by Andy Stanley called the The Comparison Trap. I’ll never forget one he conveyed that has always stuck with me. God never compares any of His children to the others. We are all created in His image, yet unique and wonderful by design. So instead of looking to the right or to the left, practice looking up to God, our Creator.

    1. Wow thank you for sharing that Karen!! I will have to see if I can find that message! I’d love to hear it! Thank you so much!!

  10. Comparison is the thief of joy and is one of satan’s best tools to keep us from living fully in Christ. We must always remember that our story is ours to share. Each one of us has a testimony that someone else needs and what someone else has, well, God has a plan for why they have it. By focusing more on our own personal story, our own gifts, and seeing how we can turn them into something that can bring more glory to God – this is how we get past the comparison game.

  11. Wow your timing on this couldn’t have been any more perfect. God knew this is a message that I really needed to hear today!

  12. Diane, this is so full of God’s wisdom. We know these things for the most part but sometimes it seems so hard not to live our lives based on what is not even real. All your points are true, but lack of contentment seems to be a big one. Blessings! BTW, I signed up for the SEO course last week. It has been very helpful and I haven’t even finished it yet.

    1. Amen and thank you so much Donna! And I am so glad you are finding the SEO course helpful!! It is really an amazing course!!

  13. You’re right that we don’t need to compare ourselves to others because it’s comparing ourselves to a myth. I’m thankful that God doesn’t size us up according to our deeds or weight or pictures on Facebook. 🙂 We are his beloved just as we are!

  14. Thank you for this reminder! Lately, I’ve been thinking I need to take more pictures. You know, post-worthy pictures. Maybe try to take some of my own. But then doing that is so much work. I don’t have the patience to fix up my fake life. 😉 Seriously, though, great post. And I’ll definitely be keeping your tips in mind!

  15. This used to be my reality – comparison. God has helped me to see that my life is what He intended for me and that social media is, just as you say, staged or snapshots in time. Thank you for the poignant reminder!

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