4 ways to escape “the comparison trap”

If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else. (Galatians 6:3-4)

Today is my 37th birthday. I don’t know about you, but for me, birthdays are the perfect trigger for falling into the comparison trap. Because birthdays offer us a “scorecard” of sorts—especially in a world that is obsessed with success at an early age. 

If we’ve made more money than our peers or parents have by a certain age, we can feel proud and arrogant. Conversely, if we have failed to sell a company, reach the C-Suite, or achieve some other goal before someone else, we can feel jealous and bitter like we’re “falling behind” and “life is passing us by.”

How can you wage war against these feelings? How do I plan to escape the comparison trap today? By confessing and repenting of my pride. Because as Paul makes clear in Galatians 6:3-4, pride is the root of all comparison.

Save Paul, nobody has articulated this better than C.S. Lewis who said in Mere Christianity: “We say that people are proud of being rich, or clever, or good-looking, but they are not. They are proud of being richer, or cleverer, or better-looking than others. If everyone else became equally rich, or clever, or good-looking there would be nothing to be proud about. It is the comparison that makes you proud: the pleasure of being above the rest. Once the element of competition has gone, pride has gone.”

It’s easy to see how pride is the root of comparison that leads us to feel superior to others, but it is also the root of us feeling inferior to others. If I feel jealous that someone has accomplished more than I have by a certain age, that is ultimately rooted in a feeling that I deserve the good gifts God has given them, but not me. And that is pride.
So, if you find yourself falling into the comparison trap today, start your escape here: Confess your pride to the Lord in prayer and ask for his power to “take pride in yourself alone, without comparing yourself to someone else."


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