What do these scenarios have in common?
Two sisters live within driving distance of one another, but they never get together because every visit degenerates into an accounting of who has more and better stuff.
Three men make fun of a mutual friend and laugh about how much smarter they are than him.
After years of buying things that they did not need just to look successful, a family is swimming in debt and have no idea how to get out.
A pretty girl stares into a mirror and thinks, “If only I looked different.”
A church leader thinks that he has all the answers. No one can do anything unless he approves of it.
In Luke 9:46, the disciples argue about which one of them is the greatest. Jesus tells them to stop. Oddly enough, Luke 22:24 says that they have a second argument about the exact same subject.
What ties those stories together? To one degree or another, each situation is being fuelled by inappropriate comparison and competition.
Those stories are not made up. I can put names to each of them. Sadly, you likely can too. In fact, if you were honest, you may put your own name beside a few of them.
Why would we act this way? The simple answer is that we have been trained to believe that life is like a pie: if you get more, then I get less. Therefore, my life is only good when it is better in comparison to yours. In our most rational moments, we know that is not true, but, somehow, it feels true.
Jesus offers a different approach. Instead of bragging about yourself, why not take a position of humility (Luke 14:7-11). Instead of being demanding, you could “Let your gentleness be evident to all” (Philippians 4:5). Instead of highlighting your goodness, you could acknowledge that every spiritual blessing you have comes from God’s grace: “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
Comparison and competition will never lead to happiness. In fact, those attitudes will kill every bit of joy within you.
On the other hand, when you are thankful for the gifts you have been given and share them, you end up blessing yourself and others.
What could be better than that?