Overcoming the Plague of Comparison
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We live in a world riddled with the plague of comparison. Our minds, often subconsciously, run a mile a minute processing and analyzing our own current status with those of our peers.
When thinking about comparison, it can be easy to recognize this in the realm of our social media interactions, as we rate our lives in accordance with all our friends. At this point though, we all know that social media only allows us to compare our own reality to other people’s highlight reels – and this simply isn’t realistic.
THEODORE ROOSEVELT ONCE SAID: "COMPARISON IS THE THIEF OF JOY."
Let’s, however, bring this into the world of sports. What do you do when it is realistic? How can we begin to grapple with and fight comparison when we are measuring our teammate’s actual reality to our own reality?
Theodore Roosevelt once said: “Comparison is the thief of joy.”
Marcus Aurelius continued, saying: “How much time he gains who does not look to see what his neighbor says or does or thinks, but only at what he does himself, to make it just and holy.”
Comparison is a big deal, and not something to be taken lightly in the life of a Christian. In fact, there can only be two outcomes from it:
- We feel superior (resulting in pride)
- We feel inferior (resulting in envy)
In speaking on comparison, Scripture has this to say: “But they are only comparing themselves with each other, using themselves as the standard of measurement. How ignorant!” (2 Corinthians 10:12, New Living Translation).
The Bible continues regarding distractions that arise as a result of comparison, saying, “And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12-1,2, New International Version). Stay in your lane & run your race, not worried about other distractions on either side.
GOD HAS GIVEN YOU A PURPOSE
2 Timothy 2:4 drives the point home: “No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer.”
The Bible is clear. God has given you a purpose. Do not get distracted.
I like to think of it as a horse with blinders on. Horse blinders cover the rear vision of the horse, forcing it to look only in a forward direction and keeping it on track. Two key reasons exist for why horses wear these:
Firstly, blinders shield the horses’ vision. Distractions present a distinct danger to horses, which are easily spooked by unexpected things. The blinders, then, help relax the animal and keep them safe from distractions that will wear at them and harm their overall performance.
Similarly, horses also wear blinders to help them run faster. With blinders on, the horse suddenly has a reduced ability to see anything around it – its gaze is fixed straight ahead on the goal. This helps the animal to run faster & work most effectively.
ASK YOURSELF THESE QUESTIONS
As Christian athletes, we too, like horses, struggle to not constantly look to our right and left. Satan uses our temptation to compare ourselves with others to distract us, weigh on us, and ultimately slow us down and hinder our effectiveness at glorifying God and making His name known.
We need to erect blinders in our eyes and in our hearts to keep our gaze fixed on Jesus. These blinders are crucial not only to our focus in our Christian walk, but also to our effectiveness.
How then can we begin to put into place these blinders in our own lives? Ask yourself these questions:
- Who or what is going to define my worth?
- What brings meaning to my life?
- Where does my identity lie?
In wrestling with and answering these questions, we begin to get at the root of our temptation to compare, using others as our standard of measurement instead of seeing ourselves as worthy and valued sons and daughters of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:12). Realizing this, then, we can tackle head-on the heart problem, which will in time carry through into our thoughts and actions toward others.
The devastating truth is this: We cannot faithfully and fully follow Jesus if we’re always comparing ourselves to someone else. You can’t win anyone else’s race, but you can win your race. You have a purpose. God is calling you to something greater. Will you run with Him?
Alissa Geist is a senior strategic communication major at Cedarville University. She has played soccer nearly all her life and desires to use this passion to build into others & lead them to Christ.