In the second letter to the Corinthians Paul writes in the context of His calling from God:
“For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.” (2 Cor 10:12)
My wife Nicki and I have two great friends who are massively gifted in hospitality. They are quick to invite people to their house, or out for a meal, or to arrange a well planned get together for a group of friends. They lovingly connect with people wherever they go. Not only do they do all this very effectively, but they also appear to do it effortlessly. It’s a great blessing to see.
A few years back their gift for hospitality would have caused me to feel condemned. Why? Because I often compared myself with those around me, and I do not have the same level of gifting in hospitality as they do.
If someone was more gifted in an area than me I would struggle with inadequacy; feel like I had failed, and then resolve to try harder. I would eventually fail again and the whole cycle would repeat itself. Comparing myself with others actually stopped me learning from others. Instead it put me in competition with them.
This is not the way to live and enjoy life. Paul tells us that those who compare themselves with others are unwise. Eventually, I realised that it was okay for me to be myself. Only then could I learn to live according to my gifting and personality. This is still an ongoing process for me, but in those areas I have learned to be myself, I have found peace instead of strife.
Here are five reasons why you shouldn’t compare yourself with others:
- You will find yourself thinking more highly of yourself than you ought to when you observe someone who is not as gifted as you are in a certain area.
- You’ll feel condemned in every area where you’re you are not as gifted as the one you’re observing.
- You’ll strive to be like someone else, rather than learning to live your own life to the full.
- You can miss the uniqueness and authenticity of your personal calling because you think that you should look and act like someone else does in their calling.
- It can actually stop you learning from people who are ahead of you on the journey.
Comparing yourself with others is a recipe for jealousy, self-doubt, frustration, burnout, and pride.
The sooner we realise our unique gifting, and value, the sooner we can begin to live in the ease of our own identity.
“Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
Recognising our identity begins the moment we come to Jesus. We learn to rest when we realise that we don’t need to earn entry into His presence. We are there because of His grace. From that place of abiding we learn from Him. As we learn, we begin to recognise and take on our own work. Jesus tells us that, the yoke which was put on the shoulders of the oxen in order to attach the cart for work, and the burden which was placed in the cart, are easy and light through Him. Our new identity and our unique journey of faith prepare us for the work He has for us.
If you feel overly burdened maybe you have inadvertently been comparing yourself with others. If this is you, then Jesus urges you to come to Him and find rest once more.
To compare is to judge and measure your value by someone else. In the Kingdom, we are no longer supposed to compare as if we were in competition, but celebrate, support, and encourage. From this place of humility, we are instead able to learn from one another. Jesus says “learn of me.” Paul says “Imitate me as I imitate Christ.” So, celebrate those who are excelling; support and encourage those who are struggling. Learn from those who are ahead of you on the journey. Help those who are going through those things you have conquered. We are, after all, one body in Christ.
I pray today that you’ll begin to see and be confident in who you were made to be, learn from others who are ahead of you on the journey, and fully enjoy and live out out God’s tailor-made adventure for you.
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