READ: PSALM 139:13-16; PROVERBS 14:30; JOHN 10:7-11
“If only I could be like Carter,” I wished for the millionth time. “Just naturally confident.” Trudging through the crowds on my way home, I thought about all the popular college students. Unlike me. Everyone in front of me seemed to stride with purpose, while a heaviness dragged me down.
Without warning, thunder rumbled. Lightening flashed as if ripping the darkening sky in two. Long needles of rain bounced on the ground, but I wasn’t soaked. I was dry. I turned to call out, wondering how I could still be dry in a downpour, but I was alone.
Something’s terribly wrong. I shuddered. Where’ve they all gone?
“Hello,” I cried out, my throat burning. Silence.
The storm stopped. The scenery had changed. Vivid colors from trees and blossoming flowers. A mixture of their perfumes surrounded me. I wanted to stay here in this peaceful beauty forever, but my body was propelled toward a sign: Comparison Road.
Looking back, everything was dazzling. But as I moved onward, out of control, the road started to crack. Flowers were bleached of vibrancy. Trees were bare. Further on, other trees had withered, and some drooping shoots looked as if they had given up and refused even to grow. The grass changed to earth and dust. Sadness swirled inside of me at the decaying environment. At the end of Comparison Road was a large gate, ajar.
“Go through,” a Fatherly voice instructed. As I stepped through the gate, I felt immediate relief. Then the same voice said, “Comparison Road is a dangerous place. Many people try to travel it, but everything of beauty and growth withers there. When you are tempted to take its path, remember that I created you. You are my beloved child. I love you. I made the greatest sacrifice for you. So, when you are tempted toward comparison, come to me. Chasing after someone else’s dream or lifestyle is a waste of precious time. But when you choose my way, listening to what I say about you and following where I lead, you will find a life of true fulfilment.”
His powerful love welled up inside of me. Falling down to my knees, I praised God and repented of my comparison, surrendering myself anew to the One who made me and called me. Words tumbled out until I was back home. This time, peace filled my heart. • Cindy Lee
I will give thanks to you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Psalm 139:14a (WEB)
• In what ways are you tempted to compare yourself to other people?
• Why do you think comparison causes decay? How have you seen the damaging effects of comparison, either in the world around you or in your own life?
• We live in a broken world where comparison is all around us. Whether it be social media popularity, academic accomplishments, athletic abilities, material possessions, or what we do in our free time…we’re constantly given ways to measure ourselves against other people. Where can we go when we’re surrounded by all this comparison? We can come to Jesus. As we find our identity in Him, we find freedom from comparison. If we belong to Jesus, we are children of God, we are fully forgiven, and we are called to a life of freedom and purpose in following the One who died on the cross and rose from the grave for us. Consider taking a moment to come to Jesus now. You can tell Him about what you’re thinking and feeling, bring your hurts to Him, confess any sins that come to mind, ask for His help, and rest in His unwavering love for you.
• Our loving God created us as diverse individuals, each of us beautifully designed to make a difference in the world. So, when we find things to admire about other people, we don’t have to try to figure out if we are better or worse than they are. This leads to death and decay, not life and peace (James 3:13-18). Instead, we can thank God for creating these people, and we can also thank Him for creating us. Consider taking a moment to thank God for a few of the people you might be tempted to compare yourself to. (1 Corinthians 12:12-27)