• Matthew Thornton

The Comparison Trap

Becoming part of the body. What to do when you feel like YOU are not living up to what you think you should be.

From the earliest time in human history, society has been determined that everything should be measurable and quantifiable. That way, we are able to determine somethings worth.


The obvious example is money. Money was created so that goods and services could be compared in value to ensure a fair trade. However, due to man’s evil, money has now become an identifier of wealth, power and importance. Many live a life consumed with this pursuit of ‘wealth’, placing it as their number one priority. However, this isn’t about greed, it’s about an age-old foe: the comparison trap.


You see, the desire to compare and measured value extends to more than just money. Many, myself included, have also tried to derive a sense of worth by comparing themselves to others. Many find value in being the best sprinter in their age group, the best writer in their English class, the smartest kid in their family – the list goes on. Just think about our education system. We attempt to measure a person’s intelligence by determining their ability to memorize and regurgitate information and then we put a number on it – as if such an abstract and complex quality could be reduced to a mere percentage.


The Comparison Trap


I’ve personally struggled for many years with this exact thing. I’ve spent my whole life comparing my academic achievements to my fellow peers. When I was number one, I deemed myself smart and successful. However, when I couldn’t replicate my achievements the following year, I was suddenly left doubting whether I was intelligent at all.


You see, there is nothing wrong with aspiring to be like a certain person. Having a role model can be a good sense of motivation and drive. But when that person becomes the standard to which we constantly measure ourselves to, it is destructive as it leads to an incredibly volatile self-worth – we’re only as good as our recent achievements and we’re only good in relation to that other person.


Imagine deciding whether the hand was more valuable than the nose by testing each one’s ability to smell? Stupid, right?

In addition, if the driving force in our life is to be better than those around us, arrogance is a very natural product of this. When one takes pride in superiority, humility struggles to be present. Such drive also leads to selfishness as you become consumed in glorifying self instead of glorifying The Creator (1 Cor 10:12). We earnestly pray that God will give us strength and motivation to achieve our goals and then we are surprised when everything falls apart as God wasn’t willing to support our selfish ambition.


Not only is act of comparison destructive, but it is also futile as we were never meant to be comparable in the first place! Paul famously said in his letter to the church in Corinth: Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12).


The Body of Christ


We are all incredibly unique and have different and distinct gifts and traits (Rom 12:6) and we all contribute to the “body of Christ”. It is simply impossible to compare each ‘part’. Imagine deciding whether the hand was more valuable than the nose by testing each one’s ability to smell? Stupid, right?


Also, the most important, Godly and desirable traits of an individual – love, joy, peace, patient, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Gal. 5: 22-23) – are simply unquantifiable. How would one go about measuring one’s ability to love or to be kind or to patient?


As such, I think that our goal shouldn’t be to compare who is best, but rather to determine how our strengths can be joined collaboratively with the strengths of others to glorify God. We can achieve so much more as ‘body’ than we can by ourselves (Eph. 4:16).


Once I understood this, peace followed as I was no longer plagued by that evil voice that constantly tells me that I wasn’t good enough.


So, stop comparing yourself to others, you’re simply wasting your time. Let it sink in that God has gifted you uniquely like no other person who has ever graced this earth. I mean, let’s remember, you were made in his image! (Gen. 1:27) Pray and ask God to reveal what gifts he has bestowed on and then find a way to glorify God through that.


I realised that there is a lot more joy and satisfaction to be found in partnering with your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ for His glory than there is in the lonely struggle to be number one. Be YOU because who YOU are was worth dying for!


Matthew is currently studying at the University of Auckland . He'd love to hear from you -contact him at matthewcthornton13@gmail.com .


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