“For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise,” (II Corinthians 10:12 KJV).
One of the most disheartening tendencies among women in general, is a propensity to compare ourselves among ourselves. Why do we do this? Are we competing for something? And if we are competing for something – what is it? Surely it can’t be something good.
“Wow, she’s really let herself go,” we may hear said. Or, we constantly size up another woman before we even get a chance to know her. For instance, we size up the other woman’s apparel, trendy or tawdry; or whether or not her make-up is over-done, or under-done. (Is she purposely trying to look like a plain Jane?) Is she fatter than me, or skinnier than me; is she perkier than me, or is she too shy? Is she aging too fast, or is she aging too slowly? Or we may think she should lose the hat, it looks ridiculous. Or, the scarf she’s wearing makes her look like one of the eight maids-a-milking. Or what about those outrageous inch-long aqua fingernails. Really? Or, she wears her piety too much on her sleeve, and is a kill-joy. Or, she’s too good looking for her own good – watch out for that one.
Usually these sorts of assessments are on an unconscious level, but nevertheless they set the tone for either forming a connection with another woman or staying aloof. I think however, we do ourselves and every woman a disservice when we fail to get past these kinds of superficialities. These knee-jerk reactions belie some basic insecurity as women. Men don’t seem as obsessive over outward appearances amongst themselves.
But worse than physical comparisons, is when our insecurities carry over to our spiritual assessment of ourselves as opposed to other Christians. I call this pitfall the “comparison rut”. It is a destructive ploy, used by the devil to keep our eyes off of the Lord and onto people. Granted, there is nothing wrong with looking up to, or wanting to emulate great Christians, but if you’ve ever felt defeated or less of a Christian because your spiritual progress hasn’t catapulted as fast as somebody else’s, or you don’t feel like you’ll ever measure up to another Christian – it’s time to take a serious look at what you are telling yourself and why.
If, on the other hand, you are blessed with an overriding confidence, along with an astounding and dynamic personal testimony, be sure God gets all the glory. When you tell your story, nothing should be said in a way that will encourage comparisons by others, but only told in a way that will humbly point others to Jesus. We are called to be a fingerpost pointing to Jesus, not ourselves.
A solid hope in Christ is built on the solid truth of God’s word. When we, in the simplicity of faith, rest our case in the finished work of Christ on the cross, commendation by others will not become the Holy Grail that grabs preeminence in our minds, or in the minds of others. That is why the Apostle Paul’s words in II Corinthians 10:12 are so relevant, not only for the church in his day, but for all Christians for all time.
Copyright 2015 by Toni M. Babcock, author of the Stone Writer, Christian Fiction for Young Readers and Teens.