Comparison Starts Young
Starting at a very young age, we begin comparing ourselves to others. My four year old often talks about what her friends are wearing and wants to wear clothing similar to them. My 8 year old 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. We hear all the time, your son is in the 80th percentile. The doctor even tells us this when we have our children weighed and measured for their yearly physicals. We learn at a very early age 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.” https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/comparison-is-not-the-thief-of-joy
Comparing our Looks
But often comparison can turn sour very quickly, especially when it comes to what we look like. It happens the moment when you decide you are going to compare your journey to someone else’s. “I’ll never look like that, I may as well give up.” 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.”
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 dictionary.com 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 do great things.
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, your weight, etc.
- Biblical Self-talk: Memorize key verses to encourage your heart.
- Positive Self-talk: “I am working to be the healthiest I can be, and that makes me happy.”
- Focus on inner beauty: Remember what God says is beautiful.
- 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.
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