Thank God, I’m Not Like You
I hate to admit this but I have fallen prey to the sin of comparison too many times to count. It’s a dangerous sin and one that befalls many in the body of Christ. The sin of comparison is when we compare ourselves to others. As Jesus-followers we are not in competition with each other. We are to compliment each other and honor one another above our own selves. However, we tend to fall prey to this menacing sin because we tend to still rely on ourselves rather than the finished work of Christ. Let’s look at a story that Jesus told and see this sin in action.
9 Then Jesus told this story to some who had great confidence in their own righteousness and scorned everyone else: 10 “Two men went to the Temple to pray. One was a Pharisee, and the other was a despised tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer: ‘I thank you, God, that I am not a sinner like everyone else. For I don’t cheat, I don’t sin, and I don’t commit adultery. I’m certainly not like that tax collector! 12 I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income.’ 13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, ‘O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.’ 14 I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Luke 18:9-14, NLT)
In this parable, notice the words of the Pharisee. He stated, “I thank you, God, that I am not a sinner like everyone else.” COMPARISON! He compared himself with others. He began to list his moral achievements: he didn’t cheat, sin or commit adultery. Then he goes so far as to single out the tax-collector in the room with him and puts himself above the tax-collector. “I’m certainly not like that tax-collector!” Wow! What a statement to make. But before I get too harsh on the Pharisee, I must admit that I’ve done the same thing before. Too many times, I am afraid to admit. I have looked down my nose at others because of things they have done, words they have used, the way they looked or acted, or for what they believed. I may not have come out and spoken the words, “God, I thank you that I am not like that one…..” but I might as well have because it was in my heart.
This is the sin of comparison. I, like the Pharisee, compared myself to someone else. The problem with that is I, like the Pharisee, put myself above that person. Sure, I may not have committed the same sins as them, but I have sinned (many times over). I have been too quick to judge others based upon my limited knowledge of things. This makes me guilty of the sin of self-righteousness. For that is one aspect of the sin of comparison. When we compare ourselves to others and we come out on the top end of the stick then we are guilty of self-righteousness. I can tell you that God is not pleased with the sin of self-righteousness because it is the same as pride.
James 4:6 tells us that God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. God stands against the proud. This is why the Pharisee did not get justified. He was proud. The tax-collector received mercy because he was humble and simply asked for it.
The danger of comparison is that we tend to think of ourselves more highly than we ought to think (Romans 12:3). We must realize that we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. No matter how long you have been saved, you still make mistakes and mess up. We all do. None of us are better than anyone else. The Pharisee felt that he was so righteous because of his moral standards. Yet, he didn’t recognize the pride within his heart. If we have committed one sin, then that puts us in the same boat with others who have committed at least one sin. And, haven’t we all committed at least one sin?
Our purpose as Christians isn’t to compare ourselves to others, especially when we compare our righteousness with the righteousness of others. As a Jesus-follower, our righteousness comes from Him and what He did. It doesn’t come from our moral standards or how good we live our lives. When we start to compare how “good we are” to how “good others are” then we have committed the sin of comparison and are guilty of pride.
Comparing ourselves with others is not a good thing. The only person I should compare myself to is me. Am I becoming a better person this week than I was last week? Am I becoming a better me than I was before?
Lord, help your children to get out of the sin of comparison.
Are you comparing yourself to others? If so, why?