Relationship Weeds Day 2: Comparison
For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. (Galatians 1:10, ESV)
It started as a pleasure drive around the affluent neighborhood a town over from ours. Driving up and down through the gated community, each home seemed more spectacular than the one before it. Luxury cars took up residence in the circular driveways, which were bordered by impeccable landscaping design. There were columns and archways, fountains and marbled walkways, spotless pools and the greenest grass. And listen to this one: private helicopters rested on their pads down by the lake. Driving away, it would have been easy to feel inferior, dissatisfied with our own home and wondering how we could reach this level of opulent living.
This type of thinking can carry over into our relationships as well. We measure our spouse up against the spouse of our friends and relatives. We see the physical, spiritual or emotional attributes of theirs, and notice the shortcomings of our own. It’s a dangerous and damaging game we play and, as believers, it stifles our thankfulness toward the blessings we have been given by the hand of our gracious God. Today’s exercise is for each one of us to focus—really focus—on the strengths of our own husband or wife. And when you do, I would like to challenge you to surprise them by sharing your list with them.
So often, we focus on what we wish we could change in our spouse. We see others who seem kinder, smarter, better-looking, or godlier. Our comparison robs us of seeing the good in the one God blessed us with. Comparison robs us of contentment and makes us feel we need or want more than what we have. Comparison and contentment are closely linked in that comparison leads us away from contentment and into sinful thoughts and actions; with contentment, we remain satisfied with what we have.
When you compare and feel you fall short, you covet. You want what you don’t have and you fail to appreciate your blessings. I find I do this often with myself—wishing for a better body, a prettier face or a better handle on my thoughts and emotions. But it’s all connected, this hunger to have more, be more, and know more.
I think of Paul, writing from a prison cell about contentment. Comparison wasn’t his thing; his passion for serving Christ was his life’s motivation. He understood that contentment couldn’t come from people or things or stuff. All of that will never satisfy us the way Jesus can.
Today, let’s take stock of our thoughts regarding our spouse. Are we truly seeing the blessing they are to us, or are we measuring them against someone else? May I encourage each of you to thank God for the blessing of your own spouse today, and then to make every effort to convey that thankfulness to them. Let them know what you love about them. Refuse to compare. Instead, embrace what God has given you, and focus on what is good!
You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s. (Exodus 20:17, ESV)