Listen in on a conversation between women and you’ll usually find them doing two things: discussing the latest juicy gossip and comparing themselves to other women. How many times have you heard a woman, “She has the perfect ____, I wish I could look like that?” Or, “She’s just the most ______ woman, why can’t I be like that?”
I confess, I can be the worst at this. I compare myself to everyone; their bodies, their spiritual gifts, their personalities, their accomplishments. Not too long ago I found myself comparing myself with a woman who had been ministering in our new area before us. Everyone spoke of her as a Superwoman for the Lord and I got it in my head that I had to be just like her. After a few days of comparing myself to her, I broke down in tears of frustration; convinced that I would never live up to this other woman I had never met and would become a failure to the Lord. As I voiced these feelings to my husband, it suddenly hit me: Satan had convinced me that I wasn’t good enough and had left me paralyzed from doing the Lord’s work.
Those little comments, those brief thoughts of wishing we possessed something another woman had or thoughts that we’re better than the woman sitting across us on the bus never help us, they never build us up.. They keep us focused on the wrong things and keep us from true contentment and peace in Christ. Comparison has a dark side and we have to be careful before we start walking on that dark side.
1. It Turns The Attention To You
Whether you’re comparing yourself in a negative or positive light, those thoughts are focused on the flesh. For many years, I was obsessed with how I didn’t look like the women who passed me by daily. Satan used comparison to influence me to focus on myself; my body and my dissatisfaction with the way God had made me. I was so focused on myself that I couldn’t focus on things above. When our flesh is our focus, God cannot be in view. When you focus on what others are like, you put the focus on man, on yourself and it’s impossible to focus on God. (Ps. 119:36-37; 2 Cor. 6:14; Col. 3:2)
On the other end, we can often find ourselves comparing ourselves to others and thinking how much better we are than them. Have you ever found yourself watching a person whose life seems to be falling apart, lost in darkness, and living in sin and thought to yourself, “I’m sure glad I’m not like them. I’m glad I’m better.” I know I’ve been guilty. The Pharisees did the same thing (Lk.18:9-14) They had so much pride built up in their hearts based upon self-righteousness. Like the Pharisees, we can forget that without Christ we are just as depraved and lost as those people we were looking down upon. Without Him we are nothing, but with Him we can have His righteous and His joy.
Whatever end of the spectrum you may find yourself, comparison only breeds discouragement, conceit, pride and doubt about God’s goodness. We convince ourselves that somehow we’re the ones capable being righteous, being perfect (physically or spiritually). Satan deceives us into thinking it’s about us; that there’s something in us that is so wonderful, so much better. (Rom.12:3) Or, he convinces us that we can never be anything of worth or could ever be used by the Lord. Either way, we’re caught up in a cycle of selfish thoughts and that is a dark place to dwell. These are not thoughts God desires for us to meditate upon because He knows the damage and hurt they cause to others and us. This is the reason why He commanded us to think about things above, things that are noble and true (Phil. 4:8).
2. It Leads to Rivalry and Competition
As we compare, we can become critical, envious, and sometimes angry with the women our comparisons are aimed. This is when disunity and rivalry enter the picture. You cannot have these feelings towards a person and maintain a God-glorifying relationship. This is why there are so many “Christian Mean Girls” because we’re trying to satisfy our flesh which leads to enmity, strife, and envy among ourselves. Comparison never leads to positive, loving, kind, and humble relationships between each other. If you find yourself desiring fruits of the Spirit you see in your friends, that’s another matter. That is when you know you desire things of the Spirit, not of the flesh. (1 Cor. 14:1) But, be on guard when you find yourself wishing you had the eloquent speech of your friend Jennifer, Amber’s quick wit, or Cindy’s ability to draw the guys’ attention. When you find these fleshly thoughts creeping in, that is the time to thank God for the blessings He gave to them and to you, as well.
3. Your Confidence Comes From You
When we compare ourselves to other women we reveal something about ourselves: where our confidence comes from. We’re revealing dissatisfaction with the way God designed us or we reveal satisfaction with our flesh. I can’t tell you how many times I wished I had one woman’s legs, another’s metabolism, or still another’s sugary sweet disposition. I believed if I had all those things then I would be happy, be perfect, and people would like me more. With every comparison, I was telling God that He hadn’t done a good job in the way He made me; He had messed up. I was convinced I had the answers to my insecurities and I could find confidence from everywhere but in God. Boy, did I have myself fooled! I was searching for contentment, for confidence, for peace with who I was but I wasn’t looking in the only place it could be found: in Jesus Christ. (Prov.14:26; 1 Cor. 1:30; Eph.1:3)
When we compare ourselves to other women, we’re putting our hope in man and in ourselves, but that will only leave us feeling insecure and hurt. (Ps.118:8; Jer.17:5) Our sufficiency comes only from Christ! (2 Cor. 3:4-5) The only way to live a life of contentment and confidence is through abiding in God (Ps. 90:14; 145:16), finding our worth in Him and living a life of humble obedience to His Word. (1 Tim. 6:6; Heb.13:5)
When you become satisfied in Christ first, then you will become satisfied with whom you are in Christ. Finding our strength, our hope, and our righteousness from Him is the only we will become truly content. He is the only who satisfies our hearts. Having the legs of the model in the magazine, being like Miss Super-Happy/ Extroverted/ Sweet/ Perfect, or having the gifts of the woman in your Bible study will not meet the needs of yourheart. God designed you perfectly, with your own unique and wonderful personality, with your own set of skills, and your own beautiful features. He never intended for you to compare yourself to other flawed and sinful humans. He desires only for you to compare yourself to His Word and seek to become like His perfect Son, Jesus Christ.