Talk 4, 29 January 2007 (no material, article found w05 2/15 pp.28-31 Do You Measure Yourself Against Others?)
As soon as I saw the theme for this talk I couldn’t help myself. I instantly started thinking about how others can do more than me, have families, spiritual responsibilities and can have jobs and aren’t limited in their ministry and how my life is rubbish in comparison. So, there’s the first reason why Christians avoid competitive comparisons. It can be really depressing.
The Bible gives us an example of another set of negative emotions that come from competitive comparisons. Let’s turn to 1 Samuel 18. Whose example will we find there? Verses 6-9: “6 And it came about that at their coming in, when David returned from striking the Phi•lis´tines down, the women began coming out from all the cities of Israel with song and dances to meet Saul the king, with tambourines, with rejoicing and with lutes. 7 And the women that were celebrating kept responding and saying: “Saul has struck down his thousands, And David his tens of thousands.”8 And Saul began to be very angry, and this saying was bad from his viewpoint, so that he said: “They have given David tens of thousands, but to me they have given the thousands, and there is yet only the kingship to give him!” 9 And Saul was continually looking suspiciously at David from that day forward.
Yes, this is the example of King Saul who didn’t like it when David’s body count was bigger than his. He became envious, resentful, suspicious, and displeased with David. With what result? Verses 10,11 “10 And it came about the next day that God’s bad spirit became operative upon Saul, so that he behaved like a prophet within the house, while David was playing music with his hand, as in former days; and the spear was in Saul’s hand. 11 And Saul proceeded to hurl the spear and say: “I will pin David even to the wall!” but David turned aside from before him, twice.”
Saul’s competitive comparison led him to attempted murder, and he fell out of Jehovah’s favour.
Those who competitively compare themselves cannot be content until they feel they are better than others and, even then, relationships with such ones can be tense and their attitude can easily make others feel inferior. Love identifies true Christians, not competitive achievements.
Remember the theme? Why Christians Avoid Competitive Comparisons. I think we’ve answered that but does this mean that there is such a thing as a non-competitive comparison, a positive comparison?
Ephesians 5:1 ”Therefore, become imitators of God, as beloved children”
Compare ourselves to God? Surely that would be the most depressing comparison. No. Comparisons are most often made between people who resemble one another: same sex, similar age and social level, someone we know. When we compare ourselves to Jehovah it isn’t a competitive comparison because we don’t naturally consider him our potential equal.
Therefore, we can see his perfect qualities of love, warmth, empathy, and humility and we can strive to imitate them. We can measure ourselves against his qualities, purposes and ways of doing things. The same also applies to the perfect example shown by Jesus Christ.
Now, this comparison can enrich our lives, providing positive and unerring guidance, and can help us to attain the stature of mature Christians. If we concentrate on doing our best to imitate their perfect example, this will surely help us to avoid competitive comparisons.