From the earliest time in human history, society has been determined that everything should be measurable and quantifiable. That way, we are able to determine something’s worth.
The obvious example is money. Money was created so that goods and services could be compared in value to ensure a fair trade. However, due to man’s evil, money has now become an identifier of wealth, power and importance. Many live a life consumed with this pursuit of ‘wealth’, placing it as their number one priority. However, this isn’t about greed, it’s about an age-old foe: the comparison trap.
You see, the desire to compare and measured value extends to more than just money. Many, myself included, have also tried to derive a sense of worth by comparing themselves to others.
Many find value in being the best sprinter in their age group, the best writer in their English class, the smartest kid in their family – the list goes on.
The Comparison Trap
The act of comparison has plagued me for as long as I can remember. I’ve spent my whole life comparing my academic achievements to my fellow peers. When I was number one, I deemed myself smart and successful. However, when I couldn’t replicate my achievements the following year, I was suddenly left doubting whether I was intelligent at all.
There is nothing wrong with aspiring to be like a certain person. Having a role model can be a good sense of motivation and drive. But when that person becomes the standard to which we constantly measure ourselves to, it is destructive.
Our self-worth becomes volatile: we’re only as good as our recent achievements and we’re only good if we’re better.
In addition, if this is the driving force of our life, to be better than those around us, well then arrogance and pride are very natural products of it.
Now pride is, by far, the most devastating consequence of the comparison trap. Because, as articulated by C.S. Lewis: “As long as you are proud you cannot know God. A proud man is always look down on thing and people: and, of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you” (Mere Christianity).
We become consumed in glorifying self instead of glorifying The Creator. Offering earnest prayers that God will give us strength and motivation to achieve our goals, we are then surprised when everything falls apart as God wasn’t willing to support our selfish ambition.
Thankfully, there is a way out.
Over the past two or so years, I’ve made tremendous progress in this area of my life. There is so much freedom in embracing who God made you to be. Reminding myself of His truth helps me overcome this worldly desire to constantly measure myself up against others.
The Body of Christ
Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ (1 Corinthians chapter 12, verse 12).
A member of my local church recently shared an analogy of a snowflake. I don’t think I would be alone in saying that snowflakes are breathtakingly beautiful.
Uniquely shaped by the atmospheric pressure and temperature that surrounds it, no two snowflakes are the same. Each one, a delicate and distinct image of beauty.
We are all a little like those snowflakes. Shaped by the individual and unique societal pressures and context that surround, we are each a delicate and distinct image of God’s beauty and goodness; all contributing to this “body of Christ”.
Our uniqueness makes it simply impossible to compare each ‘part’. Imagine deciding whether the hand was more valuable than the nose by testing each one’s ability to smell?
Or, similarly, in the words of Dr. Seuss: “If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it was stupid”.
Furthermore, the most important, Godly and desirable traits on an individual: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians chapter 5, verse 22 to 23). They cannot be measured, so how could you even go about comparing them? You tell me how you about go about measuring one’s ability to love or to be kind or to be patient.
Evidently, there is a glaring flaw in the world’s way of deriving value through comparison.
It is these truths that have given me peace. Finding security and embracing who God has created me to be helps me combat that desire to measure up. There is so much more joy and satisfaction in partnering up with my fellow brothers and sisters for His glory, than there is in the lonely struggle to be better and best.
“I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm number 139 verse 14).
Ain’t that the truth.
Matthew Thornton is studying at the University of Auckland, Matthew finds that writing is one of the prime ways he connects with and grows closer to God. He loves seeing the way in which God has wired everyone uniquely and finds immense fulfilment in seeing others discover who God is to them. He would love to hear from readers: firstname.lastname@example.org.