Comparison is the Thief of Unity (Caroline Smiley)
Diversity in the unity. Unity in the diversity. This is one of the most essential truths about the Trinity, and given that we were created in the image of God, it’s also an essential truth of the church. We are different: some were given to be apostles, some teachers and some evangelists. Yet, we are unified. In Christ, we grow and join together to be a holy temple, a dwelling place of the Lord. The very way He sculpted the earth reflects the beautiful complexity and variation of His creativity.
The Lord has a good design for our differences. Diversity helps us grow and mature. Our various strengths and weaknesses rub against each other in community, moving us toward the cross as iron sharpens iron. We also fill out the body of Christ, for truly on our own we cannot be all and do all. The world, though, doesn’t always see it that way. When sin entered the picture, our communion with God and with each other was fractured, and enmity was sown in its place.
How Comparison Kills
The seed of enmity flowered into competition of the deadliest kind. Instead of appreciating the unique way each person was designed, we pit everyone against each other to see how we all stack up. Who’s the smartest? Who’s the best? Our obsession with this competition infects every part of our lives and compels us to compare ourselves to everyone around us.
We’re not content with what the Lord has given us; rather, we want to have it all and have it right now. In a nasty twist of depravity, we’ve brought that attitude into the church. We compare our path of sanctification to that of everyone around us, defining our failures and successes by how we measure among others.
Comparison kills joy, steals gratitude and destroys relationships. It is a conniving enemy that sneaks into everything and brings out in us a blubbering pool of insecurity (when we feel we’ve been found wanting), the stench of self-righteousness (when we feel we’ve come out on top) and sometimes just plain jealousy. It incites us to question and grumble: “Why her and not me?” It urges us to pat ourselves on the back in pride and echo the Pharisee in Luke 18: “Thank God I’m not like him.”It even has an uncanny ability to turn jealousy into judgment: “No one can really be that pretty; she must have had plastic surgery.” Comparison provokes us to sneer at other people’s gifts in order to puff ourselves up.
What Jesus Thinks About Comparison
Peter once felt the same way. Jesus told Peter in John 21 that he was going to die by crucifixion—that was how Peter was going to glorify God in his death (v. 19). Perhaps staggering under the weight of this news, Peter pointed at John and asked, “What about him?” and Jesus lovingly replied, “What is that to you?”
What is that to you? What is it to you if the Lord has a different path for her? What is it to you if that means hisjob pays better, she’s smarter, their kids are better behaved, her ministry is bigger or he leads worship so well? What is it to you if their marriage is easier, their finances aren’t as tight, she didn’t have to struggle through miscarriages and infertility or his child doesn’t have cancer? Isn’t our lot, like Peter’s, to follow Christ on the unique path He has set out for us?
Stop Playing the Game
Put aside the “bless her heart but…” and the “if only I was…” and remember that He loves you. He is for you.You are greatly loved. He intricately wove together all the details of you and your life, and He uniquely wired you for the good works that He prepared in advance for you. He did not withhold any good gift from you, but laid down His Son willingly. He promises to bring each of us to completion at the return of Christ. He’s moving in and among us, reconciling all of our enmity in His own flesh so that He may join us together in all of our unique ways into a unified dwelling place of His glory. Believer, allow His grace to set your eyes fast on Christ. By raising our gaze to Him, we will have enough grace for ourselves and for others to stop this cutthroat game of comparison and to run with endurance the race marked out for us.
Strive for unity among believers and appreciate God’s diversity in creating each of us unique. Resist the thief and destroyer that is comparison, for all of us enjoy equally His extravagant and undeserved love and favor.