How Comparing Can be Good

Compare to Christ 2014

Many are choosing “one word” to focus on in the new year and I’ve been prayerfully searching for what God might want mine to be. Oddly enough, I feel Him drawing my focus over and over to the word “compare.” At first glance, compare didn’t seem like a very inspiring choice to me. After all, don’t most of us want to quit comparing?

But then I was reminded that this verb has both a good side and a bad side. I know I often focus too much time and energy to comparing my life to others and I forget that God calls me to the “good side” of comparison.

Consider Paul’s words …

“But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ …” -Phil. 3:7-8 (NIV)

I had to also include the Message’s version (plus vs. 9) – so colorful!

“The very credentials these people are waving around as something special, I’m tearing up and throwing out with the trash—along with everything else I used to take credit for. And why? Because of Christ. Yes, all the things I once thought were so important are gone from my life. Compared to the high privilege of knowing Christ Jesus as my Master, firsthand, everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant—dog dung. I’ve dumped it all in the trash so that I could embrace Christ and be embraced by him. I didn’t want some petty, inferior brand of righteousness that comes from keeping a list of rules when I could get the robust kind that comes from trusting Christ—God’s righteousness.” Philippians 3:7-9 (MSG)

I have the bad habit of comparing my life to others’ lives—both in the good and bad. For example …

  • If “they” (whoever “they” are??) have more, I feel envious.
  • If they have less, I feel guilty.
  • If they aren’t giving me what I feel I need (or am entitled to), I feel insecure, frustrated or even indignant.
  • If it appears I’m doing more “godly stuff” than they are, then I feel superior.
  • If it seems I’m not sinning as much, I feel self-righteous.
  • If it seems I’m sinning much more, I feel shameful and hopeless.

You can see the slippery slope of comparison and its quick downward slide to despair here, can’t you?

So this year, whenever I feel the temptation to negatively compare, I’m committing to shift from an other- or self-centered comparison to …

  • Comparing my life to Christ’s, so I can recognize His purity compared to my sinful heart.
  • Comparing the “godly stuff” I do to the humble act of sacrifice and redemption He did on the cross for me {and you}.
  • Comparing the hurts and losses caused by others in my life to His rich, deep and unconditional love for me {and you}.
  • Comparing my hopeless and challenging circumstances to the power of Christ and His desire and ability to deliver me {and you}.

Some of you know that I’m facing radiation for the next six and a half weeks for my recently diagnosed breast cancer. I’d appreciate your prayers in this journey. I’d also like you to know that I’m going to try to stay connected through comments here and at other’s blogs, but I’m not sure how much energy or time I’ll have to keep up my typical pace.

I will also be continuing in my series on Forgiveness soon, so keep coming back around for more thoughts on that important topic!

 

What is one word you want to focus on this year, and why?

 

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  • Nicki Schroder ツ

    Beth, I am so sorry to hear about your breast cancer diagnosis. I just got back to the blogging world after dealing with thryoid cancer and surgery this past Fall. My heart goes out to you. I think, esp as women, we all struggle with comparison, sounds like a wonderful thing to work on this new year. Though I must note I find the one word thing silly. God’s plans for us are so much larger than one word can convey, and my post today is about that. 🙂 Praying for you sister. Stay healthy and surround yourself with loved ones.

    • Praise God for a successful surgery for you Nicki, I pray complete recovery for you.

    • I didn’t know about your cancer, Nicki! Where are you in the treatment journey? And yes, I resisted the “one word” idea last year, but do see the power in a simple reminder. So I’m going to try it. I do so get bogged down with an ever-growing “to-do” list. I think that may be one of the harder things for me with this diagnosis. There are so many things to do and places to be and people to inform or thank that I’m feeling overwhelmed and “snowed in” in more than one way! (I live in the midwest! ha!) I look forward to reading your post today and am trusting that this cancer journey–with God’s help–is teaching you and me so very much! Thanks for your sweet encouragement, my fellow-cancer-survivor friend! 🙂

  • I am praying that God will work through the doctors to perfect your health!

    • Thanks so much, Ugochi! Pray also for my emotions. That’s where I’m struggling the most of late. 🙂 I’m hopping over to your place shortly!

  • Continue used prayers for you Beth…may His Grace abound to you more and more !!

    • Thanks so much, Ro! I’ve missed you around the blogging block! I hope all is well with you and your big, lovely family. 🙂 Grace is a perfect way to pray for me as well! Hugs to you!

  • bluecottonmemory

    I love this Beth. In college, I used to find out who was making the A – and try to understand what they were doing to achieve it. LOL – it allowed me to see the areas I needed to strengthen – because I only knew as much as my own experience. What I particularly love about your post is the measuring stick – instead of measuring people against me or me against people – I need to measure against God – oh, how that changes the perspective:) Love. Love. Love it!
    Praying for you sweet friend – love how you minister to me in the midst of your challenge!

    • I never was that driven about my grades, Maryleigh, but I am in other areas of my life. I’m always trying to figure out the “why” so I can be better in whatever area too and sometimes there’s not a why. Sometimes it just is and often is unfair or unrelated to anything you and I are doing. I really don’t want to waste a minute of 2014 with this trap. I want to release it all in that lovely comparison with Christ. He brings all things into perspective! Hugs to you, my friend and thanks so much for the prayers for me. They are like drops of rain in the scorched earth around me–so very welcome and needed!

  • SimplySaidMom

    Excellent topic for this new year! Our pastor recently spoke on the topic of “it’s not fair” and I felt a deep connection to it, as though God was using it specifically for me. Comparison to another, claiming it’s not fair, is a sin trap that Satan uses to pit us one against another. I say we stand strong, united, bound together, and shut Satan out of our relationships thus allowing us all to compliment and love one another as opposed to strife and discontenment in our hearts.

    • Yes, it really boils down to our concept of “fairness,” doesn’t it, Shannon? We all feel like life should be fair even though we remind our children that it’s not. I’m sure you’re right about how Satan uses that desire within us to trap us in our own sin and even in our own sense of “rightness.” He loves to skew the good with a pinch of the bad. Thanks for stopping by and commenting, my friend! You’ve encouraged me!

  • Lisa

    This spoke to me; or more accurately, stomped all over my toes (in the nicest way possible). Thank you for your ministry. Praying for you.

    • So glad to know I’m not the only one who struggles in this way–not that I’m trying compare myself to you or anything! ha! Thanks so much for letting me know it ministered, Lisa!

  • Andrea

    Love this post!

    • Thanks, Andrea! You brightened my day by coming by, girlfriend!

  • rboerner

    I enjoyed this post. I am a big one to compare and whether I do it to make myself feel better or worse, it never seems to work. But then when I think “compare myself to Christ”? – I feel kinda speechless. His unending love for me is amazing. His power is stronger than anything I can imagine. When trying to narrow my thoughts down to one word – well you know how difficult that is for me anyway – but 2 words that come to mind in thinking about this new year are continuous PRAYER and complete DEPENDENCE on the God of this universe! Glad to have you back! Looking forward to hangin with you on Tuesdays for the next 15 weeks! 🙂

    • Yes, those are words that I feel like are tucked inside what I want to focus on this year too, Becky. Like Nicki below said, it’s almost impossible to limit it to one word. However, I’ve really appreciated this prayerful and introspective process–letting God bring to the surface that one thing I need to remember this year. It’s like choosing what words you want to cut out of a long post! ha! After all, they ALL seem important! But then you look deeper and reach farther down and learn what’s “most” important. I think those are the kinds of gems that often get overlooked because we don’t ponder and sift through and let God reveal these issues in our lives. Thanks for coming by and encouraging me here, Becky! Can’t wait to talk in person!

  • Mary

    I love this idea of “one word” and have been exploring it since the beginning of 2013. My word is “delight” for 2014 and I hope to blog more about this soon. Here is the perfect verse to highlight “delight” –
    Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4
    Blessings to you today, dear Beth!

    • That’s a great one, Mary! I saw a video on FB a while back where someone caught footage of a deer playing (I think it was) in a stream. It was so cute how excited it was and how it leaped and jumped around. The word “delight” kept running through my mind. I want to have that kind of joy in the Lord too, Mary. Great thoughts and thanks so much for stopping by and encouraging me!

  • Great word! It threw me for a loop at first. 😉 But as women, we are SO DRAWN to the wrong kind of comparison! I know that I’m guilty of it, ESPECIALLY with social media and actually numerical ways of comparing how much more well-“liked” you are than someone else!

    Thanks for sharing! I think I’m leaning towards “be” as my word. 🙂

    • Yes, it kind of threw me for a loop too, Alice, when God kept bringing it to mind. And yes, women are so drawn to that kind of comparison. I think we are such people pleasers–wanting to be approved and accepted by others and letting that define our worth. Yikes! So not healthy, but if you’re like me, it’s like trying to get spider webs off your face and hands! I like your word a lot. I’m trying to “be” still and know God more too. I pray you’re able to just “be” this year, my friend!

  • Well, I wasn’t going to do the one word thing this year, but then God sent this video my way and completely changed my mind!

    http://creeksideministries.blogspot.com/2014/01/the-year-of-beautiful.html
    Beautiful.

    Welcome, welcome back, my friend! We’ve missed ya! ;-}

    • Oh, I love that song and video, Linda! It’s so compelling and reminds me of how God is always at work to redeem the mess and make beauty from ashes. And believe me, I’m covered in ashes these days! Thanks for stopping by and I pray that you, my beautiful friend, find God’s beauty everywhere you look this year!

  • Christa Sterken

    What a fantastic way to look at “compare”, I really like it!

    • Thanks so much, Christa! It was purely a message from God and I hope it helps others as much as it’s helping me!

  • You know, I’m not sure I’ve ever heard this side of comparing. But how beneficial it is! Thanks, Beth. You’ve still got it, even though your life must be so hectic right now with all you’re going through. Praying for your energy and for total healing!

    Oh, my One Word is compassion. It scares me to think where it might lead but here goes anyway… (I’m such a chicken.)

    • Thanks, Lisa. I feel as if I’m being deluged with little insights all over the place–especially when I lay on those “tables of treatment.” Looking up to the ceiling really gets me thinking about prayer and imagining God’s nearness. I’m kind of wondering why “you” of all people chose “compassion.” You seem like a VERY compassionate person already, but then I totally get your concern about being challenged in that this year! I just read in Isaiah this morning about God taking us through unfamiliar places. I’m just so glad he guides us “blind ones” all along the way! BTW, you are NO chicken, my friend! You are bold and loving and lovely!

  • JosephPote

    Yes and Amen!
    I love your list of positive comparisons, Beth!

  • Thanks for a great post…good reminders. I missed your blogs. 🙂 I will be praying for you and your radiation these next six weeks! Thanks for being such an encouragement to us on the blogosphere! 🙂