It seems to me that life is often seen as a competition. I remember being in elementary school and having a conversation with one of my classmates. We were talking about our dads. We talked about all the great qualities that our dads had, and how my dad was better than her dad. Each time we would come back with something better than the previous statement. Since we were 1st graders, we had creative imaginations, so much so that at one point she went on to say that her dad had a sword, to which I responded, “well, my dad has a sword to the clouds.”
There are two things in this story that I would like to make mention of. First, my dad doesn’t have a sword, although that would be pretty cool. Secondly, as we described our fathers in our comparison battle, each statement became more and more increasingly outrageous.
The truth is that comparison blurs. Mark Twain stated, “Comparison is the death of joy.” Think about it. When we begin to compare ourselves to others, in whatever aspect it may be, we can easily lose our joy. As a 1st grader, I never thought that comparison would be something that I would carry over into my adult life. Now I realize that comparison can truly impact people’s lives in a very significant way. Comparison can lead down a dangerous path, which is why I want to warn you against the trap of comparison.
Let’s look at the life of King Saul. Saul was the first king of Israel. When he was first selected to be king, he ran away and hid because he felt so unqualified, yet God had selected him (1 Sam. 10:20-24).
Let us fast forward a few years into his kingship. King Saul and the people of Israel found themselves in a dilemma against the Philistines. The Bible describes that for 40 days and 40 nights, a champion from the Philistine army named Goliath would come and taunt the Israelites. The Bible describes the Israelites as being too scared to face Goliath, but then one day a young man by the name of David came along. Being filled with the Holy Spirit, he asked to be put in front of the giant to fight him and show everyone that God was on their side. David faced Goliath and was able to defeat him. The Israelites were happy because the giant had been defeated. David was happy because he would not have to pay taxes for the rest of his life.
But there was one particular person who wasn’t too excited about David’s victory over Goliath…the King. King Saul was filled with anger, which is quite striking. Since he was the King one would think that he would be happy that his people were no longer at risk of being enslaved to the enemy.
As the army entered the city, the Israelites went bonkers celebrating their victory. The women received the army singing, “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands.” This again angered Saul. Although Saul had just come back from battle, it was at that moment that an internal battle began, the battle of comparison. Saul burned with anger as he thought to himself, “They have credited David with tens of thousands, but me with only thousands. What more can he get but the kingdom?” The Bible teaches us that from that moment on, what God had called Saul to do became blurred because his focus shifted on to David. The word teaches us that from that day forward King Saul kept a close eye on David, so much so that he attempted to kill David.
King Saul’s joy had been robbed when he began to compare himself to David, and the same thing can occur in us if we are not careful. It can be so easy to compare our lives with others and feel discontent with where we are in our lives. Perhaps you see people advancing in different areas of their lives: in their ministry, in their career, etc. Perhaps your friends are getting married and you’re still single, leaving you with the question, “What about me?” When will it be my turn? Again comparison blurs and the longer you continue in it, the longer it will blur the specific plan and calling that God has designed for you.
I leave you with this: when you see yourself stuck and frustrated with where you are in life and are on the verge of comparing yourself to the ministry or life of others, I encourage you to remember two things. First, remember that God has a special purpose and plan for you. Second, 2 Hebrews 12:1b-2, “And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” A blurred perspective can easily be brought into focus when we zoom in on the one that should have been our focus in the first place…Jesus Christ.