June 30, 2016
The Misery of Comparison
The Key to Misery is Comparison
As a father of five kids I’ve lost track of how many times my parenting skills were challenged settling arguments. The inevitable debate looks something like “Hudson got more candy than me!” or “Emily has more (fill in the blank) than me!” My standard response is the “key to misery is comparison.” The discussions have changed now to who gets to use the car, the computer, etc., but the tendency to draw comparisons remains.
After reminding my kids that comparison is the key to misery I drive to work and what happens? I find myself comparing my car to those on the road or my suit to the other guys at work. This drive to compare is not limited to kids: I do it, you do it, we are all naturally drawn to compare. The problem is; it really does make us miserable. Mark Twain famously said, “comparison is the death of joy.” In today’s whirlwind of social media we have comparison on steroids, fueled 24/7/365. With the ease of a smartphone I can compare my breakfast, my weekend, my vacation, or my toenails to everyone else on Instagram without even getting out of bed.
Comparing has two effects. If my comparison makes me look better I have a tendency to get proud or ‘puffed up’. If the comparison falls short, I become envious and discouraged or throw a “pity party” for myself.
[quote] For I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. For they have no pangs until death; their bodies are fat and sleek. – Psalm 73:3-4. [/quote]
King David compared himself to the wicked and felt he was getting a raw deal. He continues in verse 13, “All in vain have I kept my heart clean and washed my hands in innocence.” David is losing his perspective and begins to realize this in verse 16, “But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task…”
Do you ever find yourself weary of comparing? Tired of feeling like you fall short, that those around you have it better, easier? David momentarily fell into that trap, but we read on in verse 18, “…until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end. Truly you set them in slippery places; you make them fall to ruin.”
Breaking the Cycle of Comparison
David spent time with the Lord and it changed everything. Since he wasn’t thinking clearly his emotions were going astray. Getting with God meant getting a right perspective. We read of this transformation later in verse 23.
[quote] Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven by you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. – Psalm 73:23 [/quote]
David broke out of the cycle of comparison and jumped into the reality of his relationship with God. “You hold my right hand… you guide me….you receive me to glory… you are my portion forever.” Having righted himself with truth he was able to believe “There is nothing on earth I desire besides you.” He slams the dagger deep into comparison and slays it.
When I spend time with the Lord and willingly confront my failures, my pride, my arrogance, and the chasm between my sinfulness and God’s perfect and holy nature I stop comparing. I am humbled by a need I cannot meet and in repentance remind myself that Jesus completely and fully met that need.
[quote] But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
– Romans 5:8 [/quote]
Through Christ we have what the Old Testament referred to as a ‘portion’, meaning everything I need. The Gospel provides us with a new identity, a new relationship, a new future, a new hope and an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. With that as our reality, there really is no need to compare.
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