Part 1 – STOP Comparing Yourself to Others
This blog series is going to make some people uncomfortable. And that’s okay.
Let me start by saying: I’m not perfect. I personally have dealt with jealousy. I’ve really had to pray to God to help me stop comparing myself to other people in the past. It was something I struggled with, especially in middle school and high school.
Growing up, I was a part of the UPCI (United Pentecostal Church International) Christian denomination. And because of the standards, it was tough. I was always the only one in school wearing skirts below my knees and sleeves below my elbows. I couldn’t wear jewelry despite having my ears pierced, and couldn’t wear makeup either. I couldn’t wear certain things, I couldn’t watch certain things, and I couldn’t go certain places. I didn’t have many friends because of the sheltered life that I was living.
I was too different, and didn’t have many real friends. I couldn’t do, have, or wear things that “normal” people my age did.
Even at my church, I frequently felt left out because I was one of the only minority teens there. I felt far less than pretty compared to the girls at the church. My singing voice wasn’t (and probably still isn’t) as strong as the other girls. I didn’t have any real talent like most of them did. All of the girls in my youth group were piano and guitar players, and had beautiful singing voices. The girls also had long, beautiful hair unlike my short, coarse hair. Being one of 2 black girls in my youth group really broke me down. I promise I asked God at least a hundred times, “why couldn’t you make me white? Why do I have to be black and ugly? Why can’t I have pretty long hair? Why do I have to be so different from everyone else?”
Why couldn’t I do and have everything that everyone else did? While it may seem very trivial, it wasn’t for me.
I found myself comparing myself to every girl I encountered, at school and even at church youth gatherings. I was so unhappy with myself in every possible way. Depression sunk in very quickly. I prayed that God would take my life. Being a Christian, I knew I couldn’t even think about committing suicide. But that didn’t stop me from begging God to just take me. I was miserable.
(more on this in a later post)
Way, way later I learned that I was so unhappy because I couldn’t stop comparing myself to everyone around me. This jealousy was rooted within me so badly. I literally made my own self miserable.
I eventually had to give it up to God. I prayed daily that God would uproot these feelings of jealousy. I meditated daily on being grateful for all that I had. My eyes began to open and the spirit of jealousy was lifted off of me by His grace.
In a lot of ways, it’s easy to fall into the trap of comparing yourself to others. Often we find ourselves comparing our social statuses, relationships, and physical wealth. In the society we live in, we are made to believe various different “lies” portrayed, mainly by the media. We are supposed to look a certain way, dress a certain way, talk a certain way, own x y and z, and do x y and z in order to be seen as “good enough.” These are the standards that society has created, and it’s not hard to believe these lies, even as Christian women and men.
We’ve all been there before. I’ve been there before. If you’ve never compared yourself to anyone, then you must be a perfect individual, and we all know that perfection doesn’t exist.
The important thing is that we don’t stay there, because this can lead to jealousy and worse, envy. The spirit of jealousy is not something to be toyed with.
Why/How Does Jealousy Form?
More often than not, comparing yourself stems from feeling inadequate or inferior to those around you. It’s also a form of insecurity.
Like the devil, comparison is a liar. The enemy whispers in our ears telling us that we are not enough. He tells us that we deserve the things that other people have, and that they don’t. He makes us feel insecure, especially when we are at our weakest. He finds us when we are vulnerable and it can cause us to feel less-than.
Allowing these feelings to fester can end up developing into a spirit of jealousy. Being jealous can also stem from being self-righteous, entertaining the idea that you deserve something more than someone else does.
When we compare, we weigh the differences between what someone else has and what we have. We begin to ask the questions “Why do they have that, but I don’t?” “Why did God bless them with that, but didn’t bless us?”And as silly as it sounds, “Why did God make her so pretty but made me so ___?”
These are jealous questions, and jealousy is very dangerous. We are liable to do things that we would never think of doing, when we are jealous.
2 (Deadly) Examples of Jealousy in the Bible
1. Cain and Abel – Death
One of the most well-known instances of jealousy in the Bible was the story of Cain and Abel. Both, sons of Adam and Eve, were to give sacrifices unto God. Cain decided to give God some of his fruits, while Abel gave some of the fat from the firstborns of his flock. God was pleased with Abel’s sacrifice.
It was strongly implied in the scripture that Abel had given a greater, more valuable sacrifice to God than Cain had.
Cain became very jealous of Abel because God was so pleased with him. His jealousy led to the very first murder recorded in the Bible – He killed his brother Abel. Cain had the opportunity to be chosen and accepted by God had he simply gave a better offering.
Instead of putting more effort into his offering, Cain decided to kill his brother because of his jealousy toward him.
Often times we become jealous of other people for what they have, when the same blessings that they have can be achieved when we focus on bettering ourselves for God.
This situation is comparable to being jealous of a friend who is achieving great grades in school. Instead of spending more time completing good school work and studying, you choose to harp on jealousy of that person. The precious time and energy spent on being jealous could’ve been spent on being productive and bettering yourself.
2. David and King Saul
Saul was the very anointed and very favored King of Israel, who was appointed by God Himself. God’s spirit was in him. Yet Saul still became jealous of David.
“David had killed Goliath, the battle was over, and the Israelite army set out for home. As the army went along, women came out of each Israelite town to welcome King Saul. They were singing happy songs and dancing to the music of tambourines and harps. They sang:
Saul has killed
a thousand enemies;
David has killed
ten thousand enemies!
This song made Saul very angry, and he thought, ‘They are saying that David has killed ten times more enemies than I ever did. Next they will want to make him king.’ Saul never again trusted David.” – 1 Samuel 18:6-9
Saul was so consumed with how everyone else portrayed David, that he forgot who God made him and called him to be. He allowed jealousy to fester in his heart. David spent years of his life before becoming king, running from Saul, who was trying to kill him. Saul exiled him as he ran for his life.
In both instances, the beginning feelings of jealousy could’ve been dealt with had they reached out to God. He equips us with what’s needed to overcome anything that we are struggling with. If you find yourself dealing with jealous feelings, please give it to God. Don’t let those feelings build up.
Saul and Cain hurt David and Abel not because of what they did, but because they were chosen by God. God has created each of us in His image, with different talents, and different purposes. We should never be jealous of what God has chosen someone else for. We are each special in the Kingdom of God.
Comparison is a Liar
“Do your own work well, and then you will have something to be proud of. But don’t compare yourself with others.” Galatians 6:4 (CEV)
Comparison can rob us of the life we deserve. We spend so much time getting caught up in what he has, or what she has. We begin to think that what we have is not enough. We think that what we’ve done is not enough. It steals your joy by distracting you from the person you are, making you feel less than what you are.
It’s important that we try to remind ourselves (every day if we have to) of the things that we are blessed with. We should always strive to have hearts of thanksgiving for what God has done for us. It’s a slap in the face when we are jealous because it shows that we are unappreciative of what He’s done for us.
So, instead of comparing ourselves and being jealous of what other people have, let’s be happy and joyful for what we DO have. Remember, as he said in Job 1:21, “We bring nothing at birth;
we take nothing with us at death. The Lord alone gives and takes. Praise the name of the Lord!”
The dangers of jealous is a blog post coming up next.