Summary: Don’t compare ourselves with others? Why would the Bible say that?
MELVIN M. NEWLAND, MINISTER
CENTRAL CHRISTIAN, BROWNSVILLE, TX
ILL. I have a friend who says that he can remember going to church with his parents when he was a little boy. Now that isn’t unusual, except that his family didn’t really go to church all that often. So he has some rather vivid memories of the few times they did go, such as Christmas & Easter.
Looking back, he believes that his parents probably had a rather guilty conscience about it all. Because of that their after church conversation usually went something like this: "Did you see Mrs. So-&-so? I bet the only reason she went to church today was to show off her new fur coat." Or, "Did you see Sam? I’m sure he was there because he’s trying to drum up customers for his new business."
You see, they were criticizing others in order to make themselves look better in comparison. But the Bible tells us not to do that.
Galatians 6:3-5 says, "If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else. . ."
PROP. Don’t compare ourselves with others? Why would the Bible say that?
I. COMPARING OURSELVES TO OTHERS OFTEN LEADS TO ENVY & COVETOUSNESS
A. Well, one reason is that comparing ourselves to others often leads to dissatisfaction, envy & covetousness.
The 10th Commandment says, "You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor" [Exodus 20:17]. God’s Law says we are not to covet.
ILL. In the very beginning of sin there was covetousness. Satan was an archangel of God & should have been satisfied. But he started comparing himself with God, & became obsessed with getting more of God’s glory & power. Finally he was kicked out of heaven, & became the prince of the darkness of this world. Now he is trying to draw all of us into his evil kingdom.
Satan slithered through the grass of Eden to Eve & said, "If you’ll eat that fruit you’ll be as wise as God." Eve had never compared herself with anyone else before. But the moment she started comparing she became dissatisfied with what God had made her to be, & wanted something more.
ILL. Lot wanted more. So he settled in Sodom. Joseph’s brothers wanted more attention, so they sold him into slavery. And as you go through the O.T. & the N.T. you’ll find that pattern is always there. When you compare, you often become dissatisfied & obsessed with wanting more.
ILL. It still happens today. A salesman makes $125,000 a year. But that is not enough. So when it is time to fill out his expense voucher & hand it in at the end of the week, he adds a little here & a little there. Pretty soon he is putting an extra $100 or so a week into his pocket that he really didn’t spend. But he wants more.
ILL. A few years ago our state began a lottery, & since then it has been in the news almost every day. People are spending millions of dollars on the Texas Lottery. TV & newspapers have featured the big winners - brand new millionaires just because they bought the winning ticket. So more & more people are buying lottery tickets, & new features are being added regularly.
But somehow, the promised financial windfall for our schools has not materialized, & calls to Gamblers Anonymous have increased more than 100-fold. And more & more poor people are spending their money for lottery tickets.
ILL. An editorial cartoon in a morning newspaper recently showed a mom & dad seated at the table with their two children. The table was set, but there was no food on the platter, only a pile of scratched-out lottery tickets. And mom was saying, "For dinner this evening we’re having lottery tickets because dad spent all the grocery money buying lottery tickets."
B. Now why do people do things like that? Because they’re dissatisfied with what God has provided, & they’re obsessed with wanting more. The Bible calls that "covetousness."
II. COMPARING OURSELVES TO OTHERS CAN LEAD TO FALSE ASSUMPTIONS
A. Now the second thing that comparing ourselves to others does is this, it leads us to the false assumption that: "I could really be happy if. . ." & you fill in the blanks.
"I could really be happy if I had that new house." "I could really be happy if I had a new boat." "I could really be happy if my husband wasn’t such a slob." "I could really be happy if I had more money."