Stop Comparing Yourself With Others

Dear Friends,

Some time back I was preparing  a message I was to give at church.  After spending time in prayer and preparation I was pleased with the content and believed I had something good to share which would bless those who would be listening.

I believe that when we are doing what God has calls us to do there is a sense of joy, satisfaction and fulfilment to be found in knowing we are doing what he has made us for.  Galatians 6:4 says this "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." (NLT)

However, I was concerned at the same time for this joy and satisfaction not to turn to pride in myself.  So I spent time alone with God, sharing my concerns with him.  I am conscious of how easily it could be to become proud in my efforts, mistakenly believing that what I have done is good because of my own abilities, my own efforts.  I know I never want to get to that point.  I want to always remember that any gifting I have is ultimately a gift given freely to me by God and that he is the one who enables me to serve him effectively. "In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well." Romans 12:6a (NLT) It I not because of me at all, I'm just his vessel.  So I asked him to help me to keep humble, to be his servant and not give in to any temptation to take pride in myself.

When the morning came, I admit to feeling somewhat nervous and having some doubts in myself.  Had I prepared the right thing?  Was it going to be encouraging and a help to others?  What a bundle of contradictions we humans can be!  I had to remind myself that I was sharing what I believed God had laid on my heart to say, and it was his responsibility to make it bear fruit.

Just before the morning began I realised that there was someone visiting our church who I had heard preach once before.  I remember thinking what a great speaker he was, how he connected with his audience and was able to communicate clearly his message in a relevant and interesting way, with some great humour included.  I remember thinking when I heard him "I wish I could speak like him, he's so much better than I am at it!"  Now here he was, going to be sitting and listening to me speak.

I felt so inferior as I compared myself to him.  Who did I think I was to stand up and preach in front of everyone?  Others are more gifted than I am.  Others can speak so much better than I can.  And all these negative thoughts came flooding into my mind, taking my joy and peace.

I confess I have a tendency to compare myself with others.  I know I shouldn't do it, yet there are times when I still find myself doing it.  I can be quick to put myself down whilst raising up others in my estimation.

None of us should compare ourselves with another.  God teaches us that the only one we should be comparing ourselves to is Jesus.  He is the standard we follow.  God wants us to be more like Jesus, not more like Tom, Dick or Harry (or Tess, Dee or Sally!)  When we fall into the trap of comparing ourselves with another we either become proud believing we are better than them and look down on them, or we give in to feelings of inferiority and inadequacy, having a negative view of ourselves, and we place them on a pedestal they shouldn't be on. Both attitudes are wrong, so to have a healthy attitude of ourselves and who we are we need to keep our eyes on Jesus, not on others and not on ourselves.

I like the first verse I mentioned in the Amplified version: "But let every person carefully scrutinize and examine and test his own conduct and his own work. He can then have the personal satisfaction and joy of doing something commendable [in itself alone] without [resorting to] boastful comparison with his neighbour."  Galatians 6:4  

God helped me that morning by reminding me that he was the one who had made me the way I was, with all my strengths, weaknesses, abilities, interests, personality, experiences.  And he was the one who had called me and he made me to preach in the style I had.  It wasn't that it was worse or better than any other style but it was the one that was right for me.  To try to preach like anyone else, to try to be like anyone else is wrong and denies the person God had made me to be.  He hasn't made me or you to be a replica or someone else, he has made us unique.  I also like how the Message paraphrases Galatians 6:4-5 "Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life."

God also reminded me that if I am trying to preach in a certain way or give a message to please another or gain their approval or acceptance then I am preaching from a wrong motive and would not be glorifying God.  I am to preach as God has called me to preach and say the things I believe he would have me to say.  That should be my motive and in so doing I will bring glory to God. Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 2:4 "For we speak as messengers approved by God to be entrusted with the Good News. Our purpose is to please God, not people. He alone examines the motives of our hearts." (NLT) His is the only approval I need. I need to remember as I live my life (whether I'm preaching, or in a bible study group, doing my housework or going shopping) that I'm living for an audience of one - GOD!

God enabled me that day to stand up and preach the message he had given me, in the way he wanted me to present it.  I focused on him and my service was to him and for him.  At the end of the morning, the visitor came up to me and thanked me for what I had said as it was something he needed to hear.

I was so encouraged by it, and I knew it was God speaking through him to give me the encouragement I needed to keep doing what I'm doing. 

To Think About:
In what ways do you find that you compare yourself with others?  What do you notice about your attitude?  How can you stop making these unhealthy comparisons?

As you live your life whose approval do you seek?  Why is their approval so important to you? 

What is your motivation as you serve God?



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