Americans buy a lot of stuff they don’t need, racking up debt they can’t afford, to impress people they don’t even like, and then Instagram it to people they don’t even know. #pathetic #are_you_friggin_kidding_me
Comparison is the enemy of life’s most precious commodity: CONTENTMENT. Left unchecked, words like envy, boast, greed, pride and jealousy will build such significant pressure in our lives that we’re one spark away from a discontentment brush fire.
So how do we overthrow their power? How do we reject what seems so natural for us to indulge? How do we conquer combustible comparison?
1. ADMIT YOUR EYES TELL LIES
Matthew 6:23 (MSG) says: “If you live squinty-eyed in greed and distrust, your body is a dank cellar.”
Comparison puts us in a dark place. And no one sees well in the dark. Truth is, we never see the whole picture of another person’s situation, but we don’t like admitting that to ourselves. I call this “cherry-picking.”
- “I want the paycheck, but not the travel schedule.”
- “I want the prestigious job, but not the commute.”
- “I want the freedoms they enjoy, but not the marriage they have.”
Husbands and wives do this to each other all the time:
- [Wife]: “Wish I had the luxury of getting away from the kids like you do.”
- [Husband]: “Wish I could stay home and not work.”
- [Wife]: “Must be nice to have some adult conversation for a change.”
- [Husband}: “Wish I had all that time to just be with the kids.”
All over the world, human beings are cherry-picking situations. While life is made up of good and bad, strength and weakness, upsides and downs, we allow our eyes to tell us the lie that you can somehow have the cherries of another person’s life without the pits.
2. RUN AWAY FROM RISKY SITUATIONS
If your weakness is envy in a relationship (like your marriage), run from the things that tend to trip you up. For most of us, that means being careful what you allow yourself to tell yourself. Listening to those lies from your eyes will burn you every time.
What is risky for you? If it’s materialism, limit your time at the mall—watch it at Walmart. If you struggle with your own vanity, choose modesty. If you put undue value in your bank account, give to someone in need. We have to starve the comparison enemy in our life in order to feed contentment. If we don’t, contentment will never grow.
It’s a crazy principle, but it’s a key to discovering true contentment. Jesus said it Himself in Mark 10:43: “Whoever wants to be great must become a servant. Whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave. That is what the Son of Man has done: He came to serve, not to be served – and then to give away his life in exchange for many who are held hostage.”
Take the back so someone else can have the front. Give so someone else can receive. Go without so someone else can gain. Your life will be better when you help other people win.
4. SAY THANKS FOR WHAT YOU’VE BEEN GIVEN
Nothing breaks the back of combustible comparison quite like stopping to appreciate all that you already have. This isn’t just a Thanksgiving exercise. This is a life-long decision. Giving thanks for what we’ve already received helps us value not only the past, but the present. Beating back the brush fire of comparison will lower the combustible pressure in your life and allow true contentment to rise.