Comparison. It seems hard-wired into the human DNA. We compare brands, compare prices, compare flavors. More dangerously though, we also compare people.
One of the plants in my hibiscus garden produces widely varied flowers. One day, I looked out and saw three blooms on the plant – each distinctly different.
One bloom was the perfect specimen for this variety. The petals were perfectly shaped, the yellow and pink colors perfectly balanced. Another bloom was radiant. Full of deep, vibrant pinks, oranges, and reds, it had very little yellow around the edges and petals that curled outward in an unusual fashion. The third bloom was significantly smaller than the rest. Delicate and rare in its small size, it wasn’t fully opened and could easily be overshadowed by its larger companions.
Each flower was unique and beautiful in its own way. But what if the flowers had human characteristics? What if they were given to comparison?
The radiant flower might feel proud at its bold colors – or inferior at its lack of perfect shape. The perfect flower might feel superior, forgetting that it had nothing to do with how it grew and bloomed. The small flower might feel insignificant or weak, given its lack of size.
Comparison can be such a dangerous road! We look at others to see how we’re measuring up and either feel proud because we’re “doing well” or inferior because we’re “lacking.” The parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector that Jesus told in Luke 18:9-14 illustrates this idea. The Pharisee saw the tax collector and immediately started praising himself, making him arrogant in his own accomplishments. By contrast, the tax collector recognized who he was and how desperately he needed God.
When we compare ourselves to others, we generally land into one of those camps. We’ll either compare ourselves to someone who – by worldly standards – is not doing as well, and will find ourselves puffed up with pride and arrogance or we’ll compare ourselves to someone who seems to have it all together and feel that we’re insufficient.
When Peter tried to compare himself to John in John 21:21-22, Jesus told Peter not to concern himself with John but to just follow Jesus. We’d be so wise to take that counsel to heart! Galatians 6:4-5 tells us: “Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else. For we are each responsible for our own conduct.”
So as you go through your day, resist the urge to compare yourself to anyone else. The ultimate standard is Jesus – to compare to anyone or anything less is a waste of time and detrimental to your well-being and growth. Be like the hibiscus, unconcerned with how you measure up with those around you but stretching toward the Son, for your life comes from Him.