ODJ: the comparison game

June 9, 2015 

READ: 1 Corinthians 4:1-21 

What do you have that God hasn’t given you? And if everything you have is from God, why boast as though it were not a gift? (v.7).

The Germans have a word for it: schadenfreude. It means to take joy in another’s misery. We can sometimes feel schadenfreude when someone else slips up. A politician we don’t admire stumbles over his words. A famous person who has great wealth suddenly goes bankrupt. Part of us feels sad, but we might also secretly enjoy the turn of events.

We can often be perfectly content with our talents until we encounter someone who has a little bit more. Then we catch the ‘–er’ virus, fixating on the ways the other is better, richer, prettier, smarter—even holier. It’s so easy to compare, even to evaluate, who is more spiritual.

The Corinthians thought they were more spiritual than others because they could speak in the language of angels (1 Corinthians 13:1). They looked down on Paul, whose “plain” speech was too timid and ordinary (2:1-4). But he reminded them that he was every bit as spiritual as they were (14:3-7), and that rather than judge among themselves, each person should focus on being faithful with the gifts God had given them (4:2,6).

This is more easily said than done. It’s only possible because of Jesus. Paul wrote, “In Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body. So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority” (Colossians 2:9-10).

You are complete in Jesus! Your value is fixed. You can’t do anything to make it larger. Who you are is who you are in Jesus. Full stop. You can rejoice with those who outshine you, for their excellence doesn’t affect you one bit.

Find your significance—your identity—in Jesus. You’ll lose if you look for it anywhere else. There’s no winner in the comparison game.

—Mike Wittmer

365-day-plan: Matthew 1:1-25

Read 1 Samuel 18:1-16 to learn how comparison can destroy us. 
Do you sometimes feel jealous of others? Consider giving a compliment, writing a note or doing something that shows your appreciation for them and their gifts. Why does God want you to be content in who you are?