Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Comparison Trap

In Monday's post, Melissa accurately described the stress of "keeping up with the Joneses." Based on the reader response, many of us could relate to the notion that we would be better Christian women if we did [fill in subject] or copied [fill in name]. Given the overabundance of information at our fingertips, it's no wonder that the pressure to do it all, do it well, and photograph it tastefully seems to have grown with the size of our bandwidth. The number of global Joneses has far exceeded the neighbors down the street.

But this comparison trap is a rather artful device that may ensnare us in a different way. On the one hand, we compare ourselves to others and feel inadequate because we don't measure up. But on the flip side, we may compare ourselves to others and look askance at those who don't measure up to us. 

For example, I started going gray when I crossed the half-century mark. I've chosen not to color my hair mainly because I don't want to spend the money or the time. But I've fallen into the comparison trap as soon as I attach a sense of moral superiority to my decision, as though a woman's vanity can be judged by whether or not she has kissed Miss Clairol™ goodbye.

This snare seems to spring into action over issues that are not as clear-cut in Scripture, areas of practice and preference rather than principle. So what should fall under the heading of Christian liberty often becomes a measuring stick with which we assess others. I remember when toting one's television to the curb was a sure sign of piety a few decades ago, and woe to those who did not follow suit. Sound familiar?

Now don't get me wrong. I firmly believe that our choices about time, money, leisure, and everything that affects us should be a direct result of Who we belong to. But sometimes we forget that we are in various stages of sanctification. Our struggles with sin aren't identical. You may be strong where I am weak and vice versa. The Holy Spirit may be focusing His lens on an area in your life that is different from mine. The means may be different and the day-to-day outworking as well. But this is His work. Not mine. Not yours. It's His prerogative to prune and produce fruit as He pleases for which none of us can take the credit.

So when I fall into the comparison trap...
When I'm tempted to pat myself on the back and think others should do as I have done...
When I think I was wise enough to make a right decision or take even the tiniest step in the Christian walk on my own...

May I repent of my pride and remember these words:
For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 1:26-31 (ESV)

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for writing from this angle, Persis. I was thinking about this very thing earlier today when I was reading Romans 2. It's a good reminder of the fact that, while I'm busy judging others for their sins, God is pretty well occupied judging me for mine. Makes me grateful beyond words that my sentence has been paid in full by the blood of Christ!