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The Trap of Comparison: Run Your Own Race

Life Lesson 21: Comparing myself to others is like telling my true self, “You’re not good enough” or denying myself the amazing opportunity to be the person God created me to be.

Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else.”

Galatians 6:4

Do you ever compare yourself with another person? Every one of us, at some point will fall prey to the comparison trap when we seek to be someone other than the person God designed us to be. When we start comparing ourselves with others, we set ourselves up for failure to finish the race which the Lord has set before us.

We see it all the time, in just about every facet of life where a person attempts to compare his or herself to another. Take for instance, someone who, because of feelings of inadequacy, may decide to alter their physical appearance. A person may even attempt to compete with another out of jealousy or because of discontent about their own life.

As women, we are often bombarded with advertisements and images of what size we should be, what we should wear, and how we should look. Unfortunately, many of us buy into that mindset and get caught up into the trap of comparison. Let us avoid that snare. Be yourself. Be authentic! Run your own race. Pay attention to your own life. And just in case you think there is no real harm in comparing yourself with another, think again. It is one of the deadliest tools the devil uses to trap God’s people.

Examine your life to see if Satan has you twisted up in his schemes. If you find yourself locked in the comparison trap, ask the Lord to free you from the enemy’s grip. Remember, a heavenly view of ourselves is a healthy view that encourages us to constantly seek the Lord’s opinion and His will for our lives. When we look to the Lord, He gives us wisdom to avoid the enemy’s traps (2 Timothy 2:26).

Do not allow the enemy to destroy your divine destiny by distorting your view of who you were meant to be. Indeed, we should take positive steps to improve our lives, but not at the price of comparison. If you are struggling with insecurity about your life and you are tempted to compare yourself to others, turn to the One who created you, and like the psalmist in Psalm 143:8-9, say to the Lord:

Let me hear of your unfailing love each morning, for I am trusting you. Show me where to walk, for I give myself to you. Rescue me from my enemies, LordI run to you to hide me.

When we focus our attention on the Lord, He guides our steps and protects us from the plans of the enemy. On the contrary, if we are not careful, we can inadvertently take our eyes off the Lord, and carelessly invite the enemy into our lives to have free reign. When we leave an open door for the enemy to just walk into our lives, he can lure and  entangle us into a web of lies and deception, causing us to become dissatisfied with our lives. This dissatisfaction can then tempt us to compare ourselves to others.

Comparing ourselves to others can ultimately steal our joy and cause us to take extreme measures just to be like someone we admire or think may be more beautiful, talented or gifted. Falling into the comparison trap can also lead to anger, pride, envy, and jealousy (Proverbs 14:30; 27:4). In James 3:16 we are told:

Wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind.

To desire what someone else has or to covet what another person has that we don’t, can result in pain and destruction in our lives. Because we are uniquely designed by God, our individual destiny is therefore unique to us. If I become jealous and focus my attention on the path you are on, I  will lose sight of the Lord’s perfect plan for my life.

Scripture tells us that we are “fearfully and wonderfully” made (Psalm 139:14). Since we are perfectly created  by God, why then do we seek to be like someone else? Why are we sometimes so dissatisfied with our own existence? The Bible tells us how the enemy uses the trap of comparison to get us off track. When we veer off the path that God paved for us onto another person’s lane, then, we set ourselves up for the struggle of running their race–a race that was never intended for us. Scripture challenges us to think about what causes our discontent ( James 4:1-2 ):

What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you? You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it.

When we ask the Lord for what we don’t have, we must be sure we are asking with the right motives. Is my request out of selfish ambition or is it to advance God’s kingdom? We must fix our eyes on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2), only He alone can help us to stay clear of the comparison trap. Let us bring our desires before the Lord and trust Him to establish and direct our steps according to His perfect will. I find it very encouraging and empowering to walk the course God has set before me. There is nothing more freeing than staying true to who God designed us to be.

Remember, when we have a passionate longing for what someone else has or their accomplishments, we take our eyes off God’s direction and purpose for our lives. In Exodus 20:17  we are told:

You must not covet your neighbor’s house. You must not covet your neighbor’s wife, male or female servant, ox or donkey, or anything else that belongs to your neighbor.

If the Lord intended for us all to have the same house, the same car, the same career, the same physical appearance, and achieve the same things in life, then He would have used the same blueprint to design our lives. Don’t be jealous of what someone else has or overwork yourself trying to keep up with the Joneses. Instead, be happy for them and celebrate their successes.

Why do we sometimes feel so inadequate about our own abilities and accomplishments? It stems from covetousness, a yearning for the material things of this world, and a failure to trust God to take care of our needs. In Scripture, we see where our motivation to succeed sometimes spring from one person’s envy of another (Ecclesiates 4:4). Instead of striving to get what someone else has, let us seek to be the best version of ourselves according to the Lord’s design for our individual lives. Let us focus on what the Lord has given us and work to make the best of it.

When I am tempted to compare my life to others, I turn to the Lord for help to remind me of who I am in Him. In Romans 12:6 we are told that:

In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you.

I am also encouraged to pray Psalm 139:23-24 which reads:

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.

If you are tempted to compare yourself with another, let me encourage you to search your heart to see if there is any envy or jealousy lurking, and take intentional steps to purify your heart before God. Ask Him to help you to live in contentment. Trust that the Lord is good and that He will “withhold no good thing from those who do what is right” (Psalm 84:11). Pray and ask the Lord to cleanse you from this destructive behavior, so you can walk in the fullness of His grace, and avoid the trap of comparison.

“Comparison is the most poisonous element in the human heart because it destroys ingenuity and it robs peace and joy.”

― Euginia Herlihy

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