I glance up for a second (which undoubtedly becomes much longer) as I become captivated by those around me. I notice the joy and honesty that radiates through the women having a conversation at the table next to me. I notice the perfectly put together woman with her hair freshly cut and her blouse without a wrinkle in sight. I notice another woman who seems to have just gotten out of a workout class; she wears her workout ‘fit, highlighting her thin and slim figure. I notice the student who studies and types away on what appears to be a research paper. I notice the couple that laughs and flirts with a love that fills the air. I notice the mama with her children behaving, and each child looks like they were just in the Gap® or Old Navy® photoshoot. I notice it all and begin to get sucked into the game of comparison. I begin to compare myself to her, wishing that I had what she has.
We all do it: We all struggle with comparison and can be quick to dwell in what we don’t have, what we lack, or in our insecurities. Yet, the people with whom we compare ourselves are imperfect human beings who are sinful by nature.
I pray that when we walk through the struggle of comparison we would overcome it and realize more about who Jesus is.
When we struggle with comparison, here are four ways we can respond:
1. Take your gaze away from people and towards Jesus.
“Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.”1 Corinthians 11:1
I’m sure you have heard it said that “comparison is the thief of joy,” but perhaps the root of the issue is with whom we are comparing ourselves. If the foundation of our life is built on anything other than Jesus, it will not uphold even the windiest days or the worst storms.1 If we build our lives on a foundation that is rooted deeply in the Lord, then the joy of the Lord will be our strength. If our foundation is built on Jesus, who is everything, then regardless of the valleys or mountains we walk through, there will always be joy. However, if our foundation is built on the opinions of everyone around us, our joy will be robbed of us.
The only comparison that is worthy of comparing ourselves to is how we live like Jesus. This verse in 1 Corinthians is a reminder that we are called to be like Jesus. Paul does not tell us to copy his ways because thinks he himself is great; Paul tells us to imitate him because he is striving to be an imitator of Christ. Jesus is the ultimate example, and while we may not be able to walk on water,3 to feed 5,000 people with two loaves of bread and five fish,4 to heal a man of leprosy,5 to calm the storm,6 change water into wine,7 cure a woman who was bleeding for 12 years,8 open the eyes of the blind,9 or rise from the dead,10 we do have the ability to be imitators of Jesus.
To be imitators of his—
When we find ourselves struggling with comparison, may we take our gaze away from the world and towards the Word. When we find ourselves struggling with comparison, may we take our gaze away from the imperfect people around us and towards our perfect Creator.
2. Trade your insecurities for truth.
“We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.”2 Corinthians 10:5
We all have a choice to make: will we dwell in the lies we are believing or will we seek the truth in Scripture?
If you are comparing yourself to someone else because you believe that…
“I am not beautiful.”
- “You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you” (Song of Solomon 4:7).
“I don’t have a purpose.”
- “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11).
“I am a failure.”
- “I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).
“I am unwanted because my problems are too big.”
- “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7 NIV).
“If I mess up, no one will be able to forgive me.”
- “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive” (Colossians 3:12-13).
If we believe that Scripture is breathed out by God and that God never lies, then we must believe that if this is what the Lord believes of us, it is the truth (2 Timothy 3:16; Titus 1:2).
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”Matthew 7:7
Prayer is powerful and transformative. This verse in Matthew is a promise: when we seek the Lord, he will answer us. Take time to pray: pray for any insecurities, pray for your heart, pray about how you can celebrate those around you, and pray about areas in which you can imitate Jesus.
Prayer doesn’t need to be lengthy or fancy; it doesn’t need to be sophisticated or formal—prayer is a conversation with the Lord and an opportunity to know the Lord better. Don’t ever underestimate the power of prayer because when you knock on the door, it will be opened.
4. Choose to celebrate.
Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”1 Thessalonians 5:11
One of the best ways to kick comparison to the curb is to celebrate the people to whom you are comparing yourself. First Thessalonians 5:11 reminds us that we are called and created to encourage and build one another up, no matter who that person is.
We all have a choice: to be stuck in the struggle of comparison or to get up and celebrate those people. Celebrate the friendships that person has, celebrate the beauty of the woman next to you, celebrate the way that woman nourishes and takes care of her health, celebrate the knowledge that person has, celebrate the love that couple shares, celebrate the blessing that mother has. Celebrate it all, and count it all joy because God knit her together to be exactly who she is and exactly who you are.11 He didn’t forget a stitch or miss a row—every stitch was intentional and you were created for a purpose.
When we struggle with comparison, I pray that we don’t ignore it but respond in a way that reflects the life of Jesus—that we would choose to focus on Jesus, to replace the lies with truth, to pray, and to choose celebration.
- Scripture passages to read for further study:
- 2 Corinthians 10:12
- James 3:16
- Galatians 1:10
- Psalm 37:5
- Seek out a community of like-minded believers that will encourage you, listen to you, and remind you of who God is. When we focus less on us and more on the Lord, it helps us to see ourselves through his lens.
- Set boundaries for what or who you are comparing yourself to. If you find yourself constantly comparing while scrolling through social media consider taking a break or cutting back from time on social media. If you find yourself comparing yourself to people on TV, take a break or cut back on time spent watching TV. If you find yourself comparing yourself to other people, consider why you are comparing yourself to them and reflect on how you can celebrate them or set boundaries in loving them.
1 Matthew 7:24-27
2 Nehemiah 8:10
3 Matthew 14:22-33
4 Matthew 14:13-21
5 Matthew 8:1-4
6 Matthew 8:23-27
7 John 2:1-11
8 Luke 8:43-48
9 John 9
10 Matthew 28:6
11 Psalm 139:14
Photo credit: Emily Brustoski
Sofi Johnson will be a college student in the fall at Samford University studying business with a concentration in social entrepreneurship and also studying mass communications. Sofi is the founder of Centered Compass, a ministry that seeks to help young women confidently place God at the center of their life. She loves the Lord, spontaneous adventures, being outdoors, eating ice cream, and spending time with loved ones.