When I was in sixth grade, I got sent to the principal’s office twice. I remember saying that, compared to some of the other kids who got sent there every-other day, I wasn’t that bad. I thought, since other kids were way worse than me, it didn’t really matter that I had been sent there twice. Compared to others, mine was a pretty minimal offense, right?
Why We Compare
This is often how we think. We compare ourselves to others for a vast number of reasons, but mainly because we want to justify ourselves. Comparing our offenses to those we deem to be worse, makes us feel more comfortable with our wrong actions. It alleviates some of the guilt, at least momentarily.
We want to feel good about ourselves but hate acknowledging that what we’ve done is wrong. It’s a hard thing to admit! Because of this, we will look at others and put them down, thinking, “Look at how bad they are, I’m nothing like that.” But what we should be thinking to ourselves is, “Is what I am doing honoring God?”
In Jerry Bridges book, The Blessing of Humility, he writes, “Compared to such heinous grievances, [like murder and adultery] we think our more mundane sins can be adequately grieved at a more mundane level. But be it ever so small in our own eyes, when we sin, we also break God’s law. And Scripture says, ‘Whoever keeps the whole law but fails at one point has become accountable for all of it’ (James 2:10). God’s law is seamless, one complete whole. So, when we break any of it, we break the whole law.”
That means that the point is not whether our sin was a “big” or a “little” breaking of God’s law. The point is that when we sin, we have broken God’s law period.The point is not whether our sin was a “big” or a “little” breaking of God’s law. The point is that when we sin, we have broken God’s law period. Click To Tweet
The Dangers of Comparing
Oftentimes we fail to realize the dangers that comparison can bring. When we compare, we are viewing sin as a line that must not be crossed. We get as close to it as possible, but since we aren’t doing what they are doing on the other side of the line, we believe our tiptoeing next to it is just fine. This can be very harmful, and even dangerous to ourselves and others.
We shouldn’t compare ourselves to other sinners because—and this is guaranteed—they sin. A lot. Even believers sin daily. My dad once told me, “If this day was the only day that counted for our salvation, we would all be in Hell.” And he’s right. We all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).
Even the very best example of human behavior isn’t a sufficient standard because, as Jerry Bridges also states, “We do not see the immense chasm between the infinite holiness of God and our own righteousness on our very best days.” A sobering thought indeed.
Since we all sin, even on our best days, what we need is a better standard. Thankfully, we have one.
What We Should Compare To
Instead of looking at other sinners and comparing ourselves to them, we need to look to Christ as our point of reference. We should view ourselves in the light of God’s standard – which He has given to us in His Word. We should look at our actions and think, how does this line up with what God requires of me? We should live each day as if we were in the presence of the Almighty and Perfect God, because, in fact, we are.We should live each day as if we were in the presence of the Almighty and Perfect God, because, in fact, we are. Click To Tweet
If we are honest with ourselves then we will see the large areas of sin in our lives. The thought of being so sinful in the presence of a Holy and Perfect God is quite humbling. It should bring us to a point of awe that God is willing to let us live, let alone send His Son to die for us so that we may have eternal life.
Viewing ourselves in the light of God’s standard instead of the standard of others can put us in a vulnerable position but it is necessary if we want to grow in our relationship with God. We can never grow if we don’t acknowledge where we really are.We can never grow if we don’t acknowledge where we really are. Click To Tweet.
However, if we stop comparing ourselves to others and let ourselves be seen in the light of God’s Word, then we can move forward in our walk with Him and continue “being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” (2 Cor 3:18 ESV)