by Shauna Gallagher
God has been taking me on a journey to stop my comparison to others and to become more contented – particularly in the area of finances, but not only that. He has been teaching me to just be joyful in Him, no matter what else is going on in my life.
Comparing ourselves to others is such a damaging act, yet it is a dominant feature of our modern culture. Advertising campaigns, social media, and our own discontented hearts lead us to want more, to be more. It is in these times that we lose our joy and we grow in discontentment of ourselves and our lives.
As if losing our joy isn’t bad enough, comparing ourselves to others also leads us to sin. I want to look at two of those sins – envy and pride:
Envy - painful or resentful awareness of an advantage enjoyed by another joined with a desire to possess the same advantage (merriam-webster.com)
Pride – the feeling that you are better or more important than others (dictionary.cambridge.org).
Comparing yourself can go two ways – either you want what the other person has (eg material possessions, marital status, talents, career etc); or you can think you are better than someone else because of the things that you have; or feel content in yourself for what you have.
In other words, you envy someone, or you are filled with pride. So, comparison isn’t just losing your joy, it’s causing sin to come into your life too.
I can’t begin to tell you, even with the short distance I have travelled on this journey so far, how good it feels to have even a hint of contentment. The futility in so much of what I was looking at as a goal, now confuses me as to why I was wasting my energy on it. The more I recognise how good contentment is, the more it makes me want to strive for it.
The title of this blog mentions an equation. This equation (below) simplifies what is actually a very real struggle for us. Hopefully, though, it is something you can ponder, recognising that our joy only comes from the Lord, not from anything we have here in this life:
COMPARISON = ENVY + PRIDE – JOY
In closing, I want to leave you with the words of Paul in Philippians 4:11-12. My prayer is that each of us can learn to be contented just as Paul wrote:
“Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little.”
Shauna is a Mental Health Nurse, author and speaker. She is very passionate about improving mental health through a Christian world view. Combining her career with her faith has helped Shauna to draw closer to God through seeing how intricately and beautifully He has designed our bodies. Shauna and her husband, John, have four adult children and four gorgeous grandchildren. They minister at a church on the Sunshine Coast and are passionate about sharing God's love with their local community.
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