Healthy competition can lead us to work harder and achieve more than we ever thought possible. However, competition’s ugly cousin, comparison, promises to help us achieve more but often leaves us in despair. It debilitates and discourages, leaving us feeling insignificant and purposeless. It reminds us there is always someone else who is more successful, better looking, or more likable. Comparison shackles us with ankle weights yet tells us to run faster.
Comparison has been around forever but it seems more powerful in a digital age. In the past, our comparisons were limited to people we knew “in real life.” Now, we can compare ourselves to just about anyone in the world. The temptation for comparison follows us wherever we go. Anytime we get a free moment we pull out our phone and, within seconds, open social media to see all the achievements of those doing better than us at everything (it seems). We know we shouldn’t compare, yet we can’t help feeling as if all our efforts up to this point in our life seem meaningless.
In Exodus 31, the Lord is instructing Moses about the building of the tent of meeting, the ark of testimony, and the mercy seat. He tells Moses that he called Bezalel and “filled him with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver, and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, to work in every craft” (vv 3-5). The Lord gifted Bezalel for a specific task and provided him the abilities he needed to accomplish it.
God had not only gifted Bezalel but provided ample opportunity to hone in his craft. It’s likely Bezalel labored for years and never knew the specific task he would one day be called to. Perhaps he, at times, wondered about his purpose in life as he meticulously carved away in his shop. Maybe he finished a piece of work and felt it lacking and wondered if he’d ever be as good as the other craftsmen in town. I don’t know if he struggled with comparison, but Scripture makes it clear the Lord had specifically prepared him for this moment.
Be Faithful With What You’ve Been Given
Perhaps you have been laboring for years and find yourself wondering what it’s all for. Maybe you see the life of others, at least how they are presented on social media, and feel like you don’t measure up. Be encouraged that the Lord created and fashioned you with a specific purpose in mind. He equipped you with just the right gifts you would need to accomplish the works he has prepared beforehand for you to do (Ephesians 2:10). Faithfulness is not doing as much as our neighbor, it’s doing what God has called us to do.
The next time you find yourself trapped in comparison, remind yourself that God has uniquely called and equipped you. Remind yourself that God may use other people in different ways…some may have more influence and bigger audiences but the true measure of success is being faithful to our calling each and every day. Ask God to guide you by his Spirit today to live a life of content, faithful obedience to him.
“Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, and before your were born I consecrated you…” (Jeremiah 1:5).