“For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise (II Corinthians 10:12, NKJV).”
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At the time of this writing, Facebook is the largest social networking site in the world today. In 2014, Facebook’s total assets reached over $40 billion. As of August 2015, this giant social networking site boasts of 1.18 billion active users worldwide. This accounts for about 16% of the world population, equivalent to 1 out of 7 people. On average, a single American spends about 243 hours or 10 full days each year using this platform.
Facebook can Potentially Lead to Severe Depression
There are a lot of benefits we can derive from Facebook. One, it can be used to connect with families and friends. It can be used to reconnect with old friends and create new ones. It can also be used to preach the Gospel.
As beneficial as this website may be, recent studies show the negative effects of Facebook. Different studies made by the researchers from Nanyang Technology University, Bradley University, University of Missouri Columbia, and University of Houston suggest that Facebook can potentially lead to serious depression. One of the reasons that this happens is when Facebook users engage in an activity known as “social comparison”. Social comparison transpires when people constantly check Facebook and they compare their lives to the lives of their Facebook friends.
Some of the most common examples of “social comparison” are when a person looks at a friend’s life and see how happy that friend is in his or her new relationship. Facebook has even been used to stalk other people’s activities in the aim to know how they are doing compared to the individual’s life. Others see how prosperous and attractive other people are and start to feel envious. They see how people have their own new gadgets, go to various places, eat different food, succeed in their careers, and so on and so forth.
Is this familiar to you? Is there a time in your life when you go to Facebook and felt envious, proud, jealous, or sad? All these negative feelings can happen because of “social comparison”. Of course, it is very obvious that comparing yourself can happen anywhere and anytime. As a matter of fact, you don’t need Facebook to compare yourself to others.
Why should We not Compare Ourselves?
Do you have the tendency of comparing yourself with other people? If this is the case, then you need to remember our today’s lesson: NEVER COMPARE YOURSELF TO OTHERS.
Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Comparison is the thief of joy”. Comparing yourself to other people is a battle you can never win. Whether you find yourself better or worse than others, either way, the focus is always on yourself, which is selfishness.
The Apostle Paul has this to say about comparing among ourselves:
“For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise (II Corinthians 10:12).”
When you see you are better than others, you feel proud and puffed up. You take pleasure at the downfall or failures of others. It makes you happy looking at the misfortune of others instead of feeling compassion and love. Gaining self-confidence by putting down other people is a dangerous road to take.
On the other hand, when you see you are worse than others, you feel envious and even suffer from depression, low self-esteem, and bitterness. This world is geared towards the way of getting, rather than the way of giving. This gives us the feeling of “entitlement”. When we don’t get what we want, while others seem to have it all, we become resentful.
Of course, comparing yourself to others can be a way to evaluate your condition in life. It can be a source of motivation, but at what cost? It can easily ensnare us to base our worth according to what others have and had already accomplished.
Fighting the Unwinnable Fight
Comparing yourself to others is a losing battle. It is even always unfair. There will never come a time when you will become the best in everything. When you thought you finally reached the top, someone suddenly comes and take your place.
We are all unique. There is no single person in this world, both in the present or in times past, who is exactly like you. We all have different talents, gifts, calling, purpose, advantages, disadvantages, strengths, and weaknesses. Most of the time, you will not gain anything from doing a comparison, but rather you can either become too proud or bitter. It breeds competition rather than cooperation. The truth is, you can never properly compare yourself to others.
King David recognizes how unique each person is. He believes that every being in this world are different and therefore, can contribute something for his or her fellow. He wrote:
“For You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother’s womb.
I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well.
My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed… (Psalm 139:13-16).”
Whoever and wherever you are, you have been given a gift by God. How can you be so sure about that? You can be sure because you are created by God. You are His children and He is our Father. He won’t just let you go on in this life without anything to offer to everyone around you.
Let’s face it: it is totally difficult not to compare ourselves with others. As a matter of fact, it is part of our human nature to be dissatisfied and look for the better things in life. Realizing this must lead us to seek for God’s help and wisdom. Humanly speaking, it is impossible, but with God, we have the confidence that we can become better in this area of our struggle.
Compare Yourself to the Word of God
So if comparing ourselves with other people is unwise, what must we do then? Let us find the answer from Paul himself from the same chapter. Let’s go to II Corinthians 10:17-18.
“But ‘he who glories, let him glory in the Lord.’ For not he who commends himself is approved, but whom the Lord commends.”
Paul clearly states here that it is better to glory in the Lord rather than compare ourselves to others. He simply is saying that our worth is found in the eyes of God. God will not judge us according to what others have accomplished or failed to do. If you need to compare, compare yourself to the very word of God. This is not a battle of you against themselves, but it is a battle of outdoing yourself – striving to be a better person than the person you are yesterday.
As Christians, our success is not based on how much money we have in the bank. It is not based on the model of car we drive. It is not based on how beautiful our wives or handsome your husbands are. It is not based on how technologically advanced your phone is. It is not based on your career, educational attainment, and status in life. But rather, it is based on how God sees you as His child.
Instead of comparing yourself to others, commit your time, effort, and resources to improving yourself. Be thankful, content, and joyful with what you have. Life is too short and beautiful to spend it in pride and envy. So stop comparing, but start striving to become the best you can be!
Be inspired to live up the standards that God has set for us to live by. Read the Bible and study it every day. Learn how to live this life according to the Word of God. Because in the final analysis, when you stand before the Great White Throne of God, what other people had accomplished doesn’t really matter. What matters most is how much of your life has been dedicated to following God’s will for you. So stop comparing and start living God’s way of life.