Comparison Starts Young

Starting at a very young age, we begin comparing ourselves to others. My daughter started talking about what her friends are wearing and wanted to wear clothing similar to them when she was 4 years old. My son, often talks about his school work by comparing his work to others. But why wouldn’t he?  He is constantly being compared to his classmates by his teachers and the others that work at the school. The doctor compares growth in weight and height at each visit. You can see, that in many different areas we learn to compare ourselves to others.

In an article about teaching our kids about comparison, Abigail Dodds says, “Leading our comparisons in the right direction — away from envy, pride, covetousness, and self-pity, and toward Christlike imitation and the fear of God — will turn us into better parents, mentors, and friends.”

Comparing our Looks

Comparison can become a source of wallowing or boasting quickly especially when it comes to our weight, diet, exercise and/or health. We almost automatically compare our journey with someone else’s. Comparison seems to be the root of many of our struggles with health. Pastor John Piper says, “Comparison is either boasting or wallowing, neither or which are helpful.”  Comparing ourselves will always result in failure somehow. We will either become prideful and think we are a little too awesome, or we will throw ourselves a pity party. To fight comparison, we must first recognize it.  Once we recognize that we are thinking about what we look like compared to someone else, we can start to fight it.

What does God Say?

God talks a lot about boasting in the bible. Psalm 94:4 talks about the evildoers boasting. Proverbs 27:1 warns about not boasting about tomorrow, “for you do not know what a day may bring.” And Romans 2:23 tells us that those who boast in the law dishonor God. Finally, with the warnings about boasting, God gives wonderful instruction about what we should boast in, HIM (1 Corinthians 1:31). Psalm 34:2 says”My soul makes its boast in the Lord; let the humble hear and be glad.” Let us pray for humility in our journey, and let us always remember that we are unique among His creation.

Inner Beauty

What does God say is beautiful? 1 Peter 3:3-4 says, “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” God admires a gentle and quiet spirit. Even has a definition that is not based on outward appearance. Beauty is defined as “an individually pleasing quality, grace, or charm.” Of course, recognizing that inner beauty is far more important, doesn’t mean abandoning healthy habits. On the contrary, it means continuing to make healthy choices because we are loved, and because we were made to serve.

The fruits of the spirit are another great focus. Galatians 5:22-23 says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” When we focus on the work God is doing within us, it is less tempting to focus on our outward appearance. Are you joyful? Peaceful? Self-controlled?

Fighting Comparison in Our Journey

There are a couple of practical things you can do to fight comparison when it comes to what you look like, your health, nutrition etc.

  1. Biblical Self-talk: Memorize key verses to encourage your heart.
  2. Positive Self-talk: “I am working to take care of this body the best I can, and that makes me happy.”
  3. Focus on inner beauty: Remember what God says is beautiful.
  4. Find ways to embrace who you are!  Write down 2-3 things about yourself that you LOVE.  Write both physical attributes and character attributes.

Encouragement for Today

Fighting comparison can be challenging, but the rewards can be amazing! When we are able to let go and stop comparing ourselves to others, we find joy and peace in who God created us to be. “May the Lord give strength to his people! May the LORD bless his people with peace.” Psalm 29:11.

Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. May not copy or download more than 500 consecutive verses of the ESV Bible or more than one half of any book of the ESV Bible.

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