But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor.
~ Galatians 6:4
Theodore Roosevelt said that “Comparison is the thief of joy,” a statement that I see play its self out time and time again in our lives. I believe that comparison also tends to lead to forgetfulness. Forgetfulness of where we have come from, the progress we have made, and the special gifts and talents that we have.
I see this played out again and again at my gym almost weekly where, someone will be discouraged with score for the workout (I do Crossfit so each workout is judged by a time or number of reps our rounds, etc.). Someone will be upset because they got beat or that they are still unable to hit a certain movement like someone else can (without thinking maybe that other person has been at it longer, or that they put in extra hours of work to be able to efficiently hit that movement). When this arises, the first question I always want to ask is, “Six months ago or a year ago how would you of done in this workout?” Typically the answer is, “Oh I wouldn’t have got anywhere near the score I got today.” Ah, the reassurance of remembrance.
Comparison not only steals our joy, it causes us to forget. This is clearly seen in the gym, perhaps in the work place or even in home life. But it also plays itself out in our churches. Much like the discouraged man in the gym, we look around at the “holiness and sanctification” of others and we forget.
Comparison to others causes us to forget:
- The Work God has done in us.
- All that the Lord has rescued us from.
- The Uniqueness that God created us with.
- The special talents that the Lord has graciously given us.
- That we may not be what we long to be, but we are no longer what we once were.
- That He who began a work in us will complete it (Philippians 1:6).
When the temptation to compare ourselves with other brothers and sisters arises, let us not forget but fight to remember. Remember who He is, and all that He has been doing and is currently doing in our lives. May we seek to be faithful and obedient in all that He ask of us with our eyes on Him and not others, for His Glory and our joy.