Why You Should Definitely Compare Yourself To Others

I wish I could meet every person who reads this blog. I’d love to sit with you and have a heart to heart – get to know you, share real struggles and joys, cry and laugh together.

But while I don’t have the privilege of fulfilling this desire, I can confidently say that without ever even having met you, I know something about you!

Beyond a shadow of a doubt:

I know that you have never had a bad day! Click To Tweet

“What!?” You may be thinking… “Just yesterday my car broke down, I dropped the milk jug and it spilled all over my clean kitchen floor, 3 of my children got sick, and to top it all off, I misplaced my calendar and have no idea what was on it for tomorrow, let alone for the next few weeks! How can you say I have never had a bad day?!

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Or you may be genuinely grieving the loss of a precious loved one, and feel as though nothing could be more painful and confusing than where you are right now. I understand. I’ve been there. Several times…

But I’m still sticking to my guns – you have never had a bad day!

You may indeed at times feel like your life sucks! You look across your white picket fence, and your neighbours seem to have it all together. You go to your congregation on Sunday and everyone is smiling, worshipping the Lord wholeheartedly. And you wonder why you’re the only one who is seemingly struggling in life.

Well, you’re doing one thing right and you’re doing one thing wrong…

The right thing you’re doing is comparing yourself to people.

The wrong thing you’re doing is comparing yourself with the wrong people!

You’re contrasting your circumstances to folks who have never had a bad day either…

I’d like you to consider comparing yourself to the following people, and if you can still say by the end of this post, that you are having a bad day, well, I’ll eat my hat! Agreed?

Compare Yourself With Paul

In 2 Corinthians 11, the Apostle Paul was trying to convince the Corinthians that the false apostles who had taken over in his absence were wolves in sheeps’ clothing. He felt forced into laying out the credentials of his sufferings for the Lord, to prove his genuine faith and motives.

How do your bad days measure up to his from 2 Corinthians 11:24-28?:

Five times Paul received 39 lashes

In Deuteronomy 25:1-3, forty lashes were set as the maximum number of whippings that could be legally administered. But since, all too often, the person died on the 40th lash, and to avoid going over the maximum number, the Rabbis made the legal number of lashes in Paul’s day to be 39. Which would pretty much lead the person to near death. Paul endured these beatings five times!

Three times Paul was beaten with rods

These were beatings by the Romans with flexible sticks that were tied together.

Once he was stoned

In Lystra (Acts 14:19-20)

Three times Paul was shipwrecked and spent a night and a day adrift at sea

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There were no “Mayday” callings to the nearest port in those days. No hope of ever being found in the middle of the ocean… At least one of the shipwrecks Paul was involved in was so severe that he spent an entire seemingly endless night and day floating on the wreckage, waiting to be rescued.

Paul faced danger from robbers and rivers

Two of the greatest dangers in the ancient world for travellers were rivers and robbers. Paul’s journey from Perga to Pisidian Antioch (Acts 13:14), for example, required him to travel through the robber infested Taurus mountains and to cross two dangerous flood-prone rivers.

Paul also faced constant danger from the Jewish leaders, the Gentiles, in the city, in the wilderness, at sea, and from false brothers (those who appeared to be believers, but were not).

Paul adds in verses 28-29 that apart from the occasional physical suffering he endured, he struggled with the constant, daily burden of concern for the churches he had planted. This caused him intense emotional pain.

Wow… my claim to be having some hard times are looking pretty weak already. How about you?

Compare Yourself With the Martyrs

Biblical and other Christian saints of the past willingly experienced martyrdom and endured pain and suffering such as you and I have never known, in order to remain faithful to their God.

Hebrews 11:35-39 lays out graphic scenes for us:

Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated—the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground. These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised.

These atrocities have occurred throughout history where we find precious people who gave their lives rather than recant their faith! Here are just a handful;

The Apostle Peter…

Was martyred in Rome around the years 64 to 67. Tradition holds that he was crucified upside down after refusing to be crucified in the same manner as Jesus because he was unworthy to be executed in the same way as the Lord.

Polycarp…

Was probably a disciple of the Apostle John and may have been one of the chief people responsible for compiling the New Testament of the Bible that we have today.

Because of his refusal to burn incense to the Roman Emperor Polycarp was sentenced to burn at the stake around AD 160. Tradition says that the flames did not kill him so he was stabbed to death.

William Tyndale…

Most known for his translation of the Bible into English, Tyndale was choked to death while tied to the stake and then his dead body was burned in 1536.

Jim Elliot…

why-you-should-definitely-compare-yourself-to-others-women-abiding

Along with four of his missionary colleagues, Elliot was killed on January 8, 1956 while trying to establish contact with the Auca Indians in Ecuador.

When Elliot and his friends landed on a river beach on that fateful January day they were slaughtered by the very people they came to reach out to. Their deaths were not in vain. Amazingly, their widows continued to try and make peaceful contact and eventually won the hearts of the tribe.

You may like to watch the inspiring movies made about this event Beyond the Gates of Splendor and End of the Spear on Youtube.

Mary Sameh George…

Traveled to Cairo, Egypt, to help a poor family with their basic needs. On March 28, 2014, this Christian service brought the ultimate sacrifice. “Once they saw that she was a Christian [because of the cross hanging on her rear-view mirror], they jumped on top of the car, to the point that the vehicle was no longer visible,” an eyewitness said, “The roof of the car collapsed. When they realized that she was starting to die, they pulled her out of the car and started pounding on her. They kept beating her, kicking her, stabbing her with any object or weapon they could find.”
Why You Should Definitely Compare Yourself To Others Click To Tweet
My friend, I write these things not to scare, depress, or disturb you. I bring them up from the pages of history to help you. You see, whatever you and I have gone through, or are going through, when we compare our circumstances and experiences with those who have suffered horribly and died extreme painful and cruel deaths, our perspective changes.

Sure it’s troubling when you discover that one of your children may have a learning difficulty, or you find yourself in a temporary financial crisis, or you struggle watching a loved one fade away. And, believe me, I’m not making light of these hardships and trials. They are real, and they are not easy, but they have all been graciously handpicked for you by your Father in Heaven to sanctify and grow your faith and your witness.

But, I for one, want to place them in the right proportion, and encourage you not to compare yourself with the happy-go-lucky people around you, which will only lead you to question why God has placed you in your current position.

I would like to challenge you to think about those who have gone before you, and for the sake of the Truth, for the love of the Gospel, and for the glory of God, underwent more brutal and torturous calamities than you and I will ever, ever, ever know.

Really, when we stop and think about their troubles, don’t ours seem, as the Bible puts it, “light and momentary afflictions?” (2 Corinthians 4:17)…

And that is why you should definitely compare yourself to others. Just make it the right ‘others.’

Have you ever had a bad day, in comparison to these?

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Tehila is an Israeli, God-loving, husband-serving, child-nurturing mom of five sweet little ones whom she homeschools. She resides in beautiful New Zealand from where she blogs at Women Abiding – Encouraging women to abide in God and His Word.
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About womenabiding

Tehila is an Israeli, God-loving, husband-serving, child-nurturing mom of five sweet little ones whom she homeschools. She resides in beautiful New Zealand from where she blogs at Women Abiding – Encouraging women to abide in God and His Word.
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41 Responses to Why You Should Definitely Compare Yourself To Others

  1. Tehila, I catch myself falling into the comparison game sometimes, and it’s interesting to me that I never am tempted to compare “downward,” asking God, “How come I have this great house with a woodstove when so many people live cold in the winter?” or “How come my legs carry me so faithfully everywhere I want to go when so many are handicapped or in constant pain?”

    We’ve got it all backwards, don’t we?

  2. KellyRBaker says:

    Comparing yourselves to the right others definitely puts things in perspective. Thanks!

  3. Melinda says:

    Truth in written word. Grateful to you, dear Tehila. And grateful for the reminder of perspective.

  4. Kendall says:

    Sometimes, we really are “wrongly” selective in who/how we compare ourselves to others. There are definite lessons to be learned in all aspects of life, comparison is one of them. At the same time though, I’d venture to say that comparing oneself to others in terms of finding the ‘ante up’ can be damaging to a person’s psyche. I do believe that comparing myself to someone else in terms of finding ways that I want to improve is another thing entirely. So many of us, especially women and mothers, have such a difficult time with “comparing our insides to other people’s outsides”… 🙂

    • womenabiding says:

      True, Kendall… I see your point. I guess I didn’t think of the fact that potentially we could be comparing ourselves to anyone less fortunate than ourselves, in order to “feel better” about our own lives… This was not my intention. My thoughts were that all of us, in the Western world especially, in modern times, have it so much easier than people of old, and than those who are persecuted brutally for our faith. Appreciate your input! xoxo

  5. Sarah Koontz says:

    Love this post, catchy title and compelling read. You’ve got me thinking this morning, friend.

  6. Powerful words and such a great reminder, Tehila. Thank you!

  7. That is a unique way to look at an old problem of comparing. A lovely reminder of who we should be comparing ourselves to.

    Kathleen
    Bloggers Pit Stop

  8. Sue says:

    Very insightful post! I found myself comparing right before I read this! Sigh. Thanks for the examples, this is worth sharing! Visiting you from Monday musings:)

  9. Oh, Tehila. Thank you for writing this. It’s so easy for us to moan for our seeming hardships (I have days where I’m brought to tears because of my desert life without a light switch and hot showers and many other ‘normal’ things), yet we haven’t suffered unto blood, have we?
    Thank you again. I appreciated every word.

    • womenabiding says:

      Gleniece, my sweet friend! You almost brought *me* to tears with your beautiful and sincere comment. So much appreciate your vulnerable heart and the sacrifices you make for the Lord! You are an example, inspiration, and heroine in my eyes!!! May He continue to sustain you and focus your heart and perspective upon Himself, and those who have had it worse… With my love today and always xoxoxo

  10. Jann Olson says:

    Really is food for thought! Thanks for sharing it with SYC.
    hugs,
    Jann

  11. Tehila,

    Wow! You caught my attention this morning! Interestingly just last week I was having a conversation with a dear friend who really struggles to pray for herself or invite others into her trials to pray with her. She always compares herself to those who have it worse. It truly does keep her heart filled with gratitude and I see its fruit in her life. But she goes so far into this way of thinking that she alienates herself and keeps God at a distance. Our conversation centered around God’s desire for us to be in prayer with Him and in community and prayer for each other. I told her no one would be praying if we only prayed if we had the worst problem of anyone because there is always someone who will have a deeper trial! Isn’t it interesting how we humans always miss things … either we compare to the person with someone better landing ourselves stuck in defeat, or we compare ourselves to the person who has it worse and fail to be honest with God about our hurts! It’s somewhere in the middle, right? Comparing for our gratitude to stay built up, but acknowledging our hurts and going before Christ to heal those places and stay in relationship with Him!
    Great post, friend! It sure made me think deeply!!! And thank you for being a part of the #MomentsofHope community!
    Blessings and smiles,
    Lori

    • womenabiding says:

      Lori! Your insights are absolutely, thrillingly profound! Thank you so much for sharing them here! They are meaty and necessary to read… You are a GEM! Hugs and love and gratitude xoxo

  12. bethany says:

    LOVE this perspective, Tehila! Thanks for turning the usual comparison concept on its head. So insightful and challenging to me today!

  13. What a great post, Tehila! I frequently encourage people to read “Foxe’s Book of Martyrs” at least once. It’s not easy to read when we realize just what others, like the ones you’ve mentioned, have suffered, but it helps to put things in perspective for us.

    Thanks for linking this with Mondays @ Soul Survival. Blessings, my friend!

    • womenabiding says:

      Thank you for that, Donna! I have such a wonderful testimony about how the Lord provided that book for me just after I wrote this post. I had never heard of it before, but am so much looking forward to delving into it, even though I’m sure it’s not an easy thing to read. It’s healthy for the soul, though, I’m sure! God bless you, precious sister xoxo

  14. Mary Geisen says:

    Thank you for bringing a different perspective to the comparison game. It is easy to do for sure! Comparing to the right people! I will be pondering this for awhile! Blessings!

  15. Lisa notes says:

    You got me. 🙂 I had to come read after I saw your title. I just watched a video this morning on compassion. It asked you to think of something “hard” you’re going through, then see how you feel after watching the video, which was about starving children, etc. It did make my own problems seem much more manageable. Thanks for sharing this perspective with us too!

    • womenabiding says:

      It seems as though the Lord is leading you to this perspective from all directions, Lisa 🙂 I love that perspective of thinking of your hardships and then watching what *real* hardships look like… You’re such a blessing to me, my friend!!! xoxox

  16. Such truth here. We compare ourselves to the wrong people constantly, and it leads to pity. Comparing ourselves to the right people leads to humility and action. Thanks for reminding me! 🙂

  17. Linda Todd says:

    A different perspective and one needed by all. It is easy to look around at those who seem to be doing well, and compare. As you have said, of course that is not what we need to do. We need to be grateful for all of the “things,” we have that other humans are desperate for. Food, clothing, a Bible to read, or a song book to hum a hymn. Our thoughts should flow to little children who are being abused, are hungry, and being aborted. I for one am trying to learn how to be more grateful, and let Jesus know that I am thankful for His sacrifice, His love, His understand and His Grace.

    Thank you for sharing these “truthful,” words.

  18. Wendy says:

    Thank you for sharing this post with us at Hip Homeschool Moms! I never thought about this the way you presented it!

  19. I’m here from Messy Marriages ‘From Messes To messages’.

    I tend to compare myself to people I’ve met, or at least encountered while standing in the mass grave that held their remains. In that calculus, terminal cancer isn’t so hard to deal with.

    But vomiting blood, passing out from pain, and the decline into incontinence are neither light nor momentary, and I do not believe it was handpicked for me. It’s a succession of really horrible days and nights, and God is with me, to get me through with enough strength to withstand another 24 hours.

    He created a world in which free will became necessary to choose the Light, and part of that free will is ‘natural’, the catastrophes and calamities that seem random. If He picked and chose, He’d be obviating the very purpose of the exercise, a process that grooms us to be suitable citizens of eternity.

    http://blessed-are-the-pure-of-heart.blogspot.com/2016/10/your-dying-spouse-221-separation-anxiety.html

  20. Heather says:

    Such a great way to look at comparing ourselves. I love it. Definitely needed this today. Thank you.

  21. Casey Capra says:

    This was super encouraging. Thank you for writing this, it was what I needed to hear!

  22. I knew Paul had experienced some of those hardships, but not all of them. It is sobering to think about our own comforts and discomforts in comparison.

    • womenabiding says:

      Absolutely, Rachel! It really is good to compare ourselves to the right people, those who have gone through so much more than we ever will! What a blessing to have had you stop by here… xoxo

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