The Defect of Comparing Myself
Matthew 18:1-3 …The disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” …He said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
A few years ago, in jest, I told some coworkers that the key to feeling good about yourself was to approximate yourself next to someone who made you feel good. So, if you were feeling short, find someone shorter to stand next to. If you were feeling heavy, stand next to someone bigger. If you were feeling unattractive… You get the idea.
Shortly thereafter, while sitting at my desk, I felt the obnoxiously close presence of two people behind me. I turned to ask what they were doing. With a smirk, they informed me that I was making them feel better in almost every way. I had that coming.
This is the situation Jesus found himself in with the disciples. Of all the discouraging moments the disciples manufactured for Jesus, this one had to be near the top. It was not enough that they were arguing about who was who in the kingdom, they tried to drag Jesus in to settle it. Ignoring all his words on humility, love and dying to self, they asked Jesus to participate in their ridiculous contest.
Jesus responded by informing them that they were engaging in behavior that was not even worthy of the kingdom of heaven. As they were arguing about who was going to be first, Jesus told them that in their pride, they were not even in the running.
I need this reminder. Though not my greatest struggle, I do find myself comparing my performance and existence to that of those around me. Am I smart enough? Am I successful or popular enough? How do I measure up? This need to be as good as, is destructive, as it takes eyes off God and puts them on me. There is an even worse manifestation of this defect of comparison though.
When I compare, and find that I do not measure up in some way, I often will attempt to compensate with denigration. If I feel that someone is better than me in some regard, I will massage my ego by criticizing his or her defects. In my pride and focus on me, I become bitter and hateful. Well, he may be taller, more attractive and more successful, but at least I’m not bald…
In my need to feel good about me, I compare. When I do not measure up, I criticize. Jesus pointed out how this behavior is destructive and not worthy of the kingdom of God. Comparison and pride will keep me focused on me. If I want the kingdom in me, I need to daily leave behind self to follow God. I do not make myself great by focusing on God. I am just relieved of the burden of wanting to be great.