By What Are We to Compare Ourselves and Others?

justice-scalesWe men tend to be what is called “left brained.” And I am told that women tend to be “right brained.” Men tend to think logically and comparatively and they love rules and order while women think in terms of relationships and making them work with love and mercy. A man sets his perimeter around his home and looks outward where a woman focuses inside the perimeter and wants peace and love to prevail there. Of course there are always exceptions to the rule. Somebody pointed out that a man will say, “I think thus and so…” But a woman will say, “I feel thus and so…” One is calculated and the other is emotional. Is God one or the other or both? In Genesis we read that He created man in His own image, male and female made He them. So on the one hand we see the God of Truth and on the other He is the God of mercy. He is both!

Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me: for my soul trusts in you: yea, in the shadow of your wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities have passed. I will cry unto God most high; unto God who performs all things for me. He shall send from heaven, and save me from the reproach of him that would swallow me up. Selah. God shall send forth his mercy and his truth. (Psalms 57:1-3 KJ2000 – emphasis added)

Surely his salvation is near those that fear him; that glory may dwell in our land. Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other. (Psalms 85:9-10 KJ2000 – emphasis added)

But with men and women it seems to be one or the other. All mercy or all truth. One old sage told me that the mercy and truth of God only meet in Christ, so when we are one or the other in our thinking, we lack Christ’s life in us. Remember that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life and no man can come to the Father but by Him.

Here we have been making comparisons of men to women. What I want to point out is the folly of making comparisons in our relationships. I remember how shocked I was when my dear wife, Dorothy, reacted to a “compliment” from me in our first year of marriage. I simply said, “You sure look pretty… for a change.” She informed me that I gave her a nice compliment and then I took it away in the same sentence by qualifying it. My mother did that all the time. Her love was always conditional. “Michael, do (this or that) so we can be proud of you.” I have learned the hard way over the years (fifty with the same woman) that no woman likes her man to compare her to herself or to other women. Men, to be safe, just don’t do it because they will hear it wrong no matter how you butter it up.

Paul had something to say about making comparisons among ourselves, as well,

We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise. (2 Corinthians 10:12 NIV)

In Hebrews it is clear that there is only one measuring stick that we are to compare ourselves to–God’s own Son.

Therefore seeing we also are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which does so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest you be wearied and faint in your minds. You have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin. (Hebrews 12:1-4 KJVCNT – emphasis added)

When we think we are really doing quite well by comparing ourselves to another human or even to the way we used to be, what have we accomplished? The Bible says that Jesus is the First Born of many brethren, and when He appears we shall be like Him for we shall see Him as He is. We are to be looking to Jesus who is the Author and the Finisher of our faith, not our fellow man. Yet in our pride, we choose a lower standard so we look good in our own eyes and the eyes of others.

Another failing in us is the tendency to make another person our idol. Oswald Chambers wrote,

Refusing to be disillusioned is the cause of much of the suffering of human life. And this is how that suffering happens— if we love someone, but do not love God, we demand total perfection and righteousness from that person, and when we do not get it we become cruel and vindictive; yet we are demanding of a human being something which he or she cannot possibly give. There is only one Being who can completely satisfy to the absolute depth of the hurting human heart, and that is the Lord Jesus Christ.

(http://utmost.org/the-teaching-of-disillusionment/)

Does the love of God in us compare ourselves with others or their conduct with ours? I was thinking about what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 13.

Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends… (1 Corinthians 13:4-8 RSVA)

So, to put it in the negative form for contrast — a lack of God’s love (actually a lack of Christ) in us makes us impatient, cruel, jealous, boastful, arrogant and rude when we are with others. We insist on getting our way and are irritable and resentful. We can’t wait until those we don’t like get theirs and rejoice when bad things happen to them. We find things that don’t go our way unbearable, we are filled with doubts and have little endurance in us. Our love for others fails as soon as they cross us.

In the verses above, we do not see a lot comparing going on in the love of God, but in the negative, more human form of it, we see lots of comparisons that have no grace or love toward others. That is the nature of the old man, Adam, that is in us. But with God there is hope because God is love.

But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love with which he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, has made us alive together with Christ, (by grace you are saved;) And has raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God has before ordained that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:4-10 KJ2000)

In and of ourselves we are wretched and without hope, but in Christ we have great faith, hope and love. It is all a gift from Him. This transformation is totally by the working of God in us. When we have our eyes fixed on Jesus as the Author and the Finisher of our faith, we will not be looking at the failings of others or even at our own. Instead, we will be looking at “…whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Philippians 4:8 RSVA)

Great advice! (I want to thank Susanne Schuberth for her valuable input on this subject)

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15 comments on “By What Are We to Compare Ourselves and Others?

  1. You’re very welcome as to my input, dear Michael. I was glad to see that you could use part of Oswald Chambers’ devotional for your entry too.

    That was a great and helpful article, both for men and women, I believe. 😉 I particularly liked that insightful passage at the end of your post. You wrote,

    “In and of ourselves we are wretched and without hope, but in Christ we have great faith, hope and love. It is all a gift from Him. This transformation is totally by the working of God in us. When we have our eyes fixed on Jesus as the Author and the Finisher of our faith, we will not be looking at the failings of others or even at our own. Instead, we will be looking at “…whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Philippians 4:8 RSVA)

    Indeed, ALL good things are a gift from Him and all of it happens by His grace. Actually, I was just wondering whether looking at Jesus meant comparing ourselves to Him, which should always leave us humbled, or whether it simply meant beholding the One who loves us unconditionally and thus by receiving His love even forgetting any comparison at last…?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Michael says:

      Susanne, you wrote, “I was just wondering whether looking at Jesus meant comparing ourselves to Him, which should always leave us humbled, or whether it simply meant beholding the One who loves us unconditionally and thus by receiving His love even forgetting any comparison at last…?” You bring up a good point. I immediately thought of Mary sitting at Jesus feet, totally enamored with Him. I don’t think she was comparing herself with Martha in the kitchen at that time, but rather fully absorbed in His love. It was Martha that was making the comparison of herself working so hare and Mary doing nothing! Yet, Jesus told her that Mary had chosen the better place. May Father so fill us with Christ’s love that we no longer need to compare ourselves with anything! Thanks for your wonderful insight, dear sister. ⭐

      Liked by 2 people

      • Ha! That was a great example, Michael – Mary and Martha, of course! 🙂 Indeed, I could not think of any Scripture that would have backed my statement above. However, I assumed you could provide it – and you did! Thank you so much, my brother!!!

        Maybe, one could also think of Mary representing the spiritual nature and Martha the still carnal part that is always struggling against the other one? Just my two cents… 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Michael says:

    Again a good point. The flesh wars against the spirit in us and the spirit against the flesh and where there is comparisons going on, the flesh is not far away. Again our salvation is to fix our eyes on Jesus alone.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. That was just so well said. Nicely done. 😉

    Liked by 2 people

  4. So did Dot lump you for that compliment? 😉 I get in trouble with my wife for a remark I didn’t even make! Years ago I was playing guitar for the musical Godspell and a woman said to her “you must be very proud of your son”. 😳 She started coloring her hair after that.

    Another of those comparison things I’ve been part of more than a few times, is when getting together with others who have come out of the IC. How often does fellowship with another comer-outer kick off with a comparison of battle scars from the IC wars? Or tales of getting the better of a hireling in a confrontation?

    I try to remember Jesus words “if I be lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men to myself”. Lift up Jesus and we are naturally drawn together in unity by Him. Lift up anything else and contentiousness seems to follow.

    And the funny thing? It’s far less strenuous to lift up Jesus than anything else, for the former is light and easy, the latter brings resistance. You’d think I’d learn – we’d learn.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Michael says:

      No, Jack, no lumps on my head that time, but she did warn me that I have to sleep sometime. :-p

      I agree that we can not have unity around anything but Christ and His love. Our common wounds in the I.C. system will only be repeated wherever we go if we do not forgive the perpetrators and move on after our high callings in Christ. Hindsight is great but you can’t walk by it without running into the same old walls. Unity around common doctrine won’t bind us together, either. “Knowledge will be done away with.” Around Pentecostal gifts? They will cease. Only our faith, hope and love IN Christ will bind us together and remain. Only Christ can be our foundation and our strength. That was a great quote from Him in light of this very thing, “If I be lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men to myself.” As we are drawn to Him we will have unity.

      Thanks for your insightful comment, brother.

      Like

  5. Ken Dawson says:

    I love that last paragraph and as you said–GREAT ADVICE.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Pat Orr says:

    Thank you for the blog. I remember discovering 2 Corinthians 10:12 years ago. I realized what excellent advice it is. When I compare myself to others, I have one of the following responses: either I become very depressed because I don’t measure up, or I become prideful ( that goes before a fall) became I conclude that I am better than the other person. Another dead end is to compare myself with myself.

    Truly life is in the Lord Jesus, not the old Adam.

    Love in Him,
    Pat Orr

    Liked by 2 people

    • Michael says:

      Well, said Pat! The only sane thing for us to do is to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and not ourselves or others in reference to ourselves. He is our only hope. Do you want to know how to do something or where you belong? Jesus is the Way. Do you want to know what to do or believe? Jesus is the Truth. Do you want to know how to live? Jesus is the Life.

      God bless you,
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Your posts are always filled with wisdom, Michael. I so loved the comparison of the God of Mercy with the God of Truth — both aspects of God’s nature, but seldom our own.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Michael says:

      Thank you Anna. I look forward to your comments. They are always edifying. Yes, both Mercy and Truth in their pure form are not natural to any of us. They are only found in Christ.
      God bless you, Michael

      Liked by 1 person

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