Nobody Wins the Comparison Game
When you try to find your identity by comparing yourself to others, you lose every time.
It used to drive me crazy: I played the comparison game, and I lost every time.
As a young travel journalist just a couple of years out of college, I didn’t make much money (although I certainly enjoyed my job exploring the world). From time to time, though, I would meet someone else my age who did. A fresh dental school graduate who had opened his own practice. An up-and-coming lawyer. An old friend who landed a great job working for the governor.
Just thinking about all their success — and all the money they were making — made my skin crawl.
How I Became a Loser
Almost everyone I met told me they envied my job as a travel writer. But secretly, I envied what they had. They had big jobs in well-respected fields. Their careers promised big salaries. Throughout their lives, they would enjoy expensive houses, fancy cars and luxurious vacations.
I had trouble with anyone in the room getting more attention than me.
I told myself these guys had “sold out,” pursuing big-money majors in college instead of being true to themselves. But in reality, I was just jealous. Plain and simple.
It wasn’t the material things that made me jealous, but the fact that these people were going to be obviously wealthy. Society would look at them and call them successful. And I had trouble with anyone in the room getting more attention than me.
This corner of my heart developed a nasty little cancer. I began to identify myself by my salary, seeing myself as nothing more than a number. I could view the whole world in terms of their numbers. People who made less than I did were also worth less than me. Those who earned more mattered more. And they made me mad. To me, they were sell-outs, no-goods and full of greed. They didn’t deserve the things they had.
Envy blinded me so much that I lost sight of my own identity. Money was telling me what I was worth, and dictating how I thought of the people around me. It controlled my thoughts and emotions. It had made me a slave.
I learned the hard way that when you play the comparison game, nobody wins. It might be a nice boost for the ego to look around at all the people that have less than you do, but for every one that has less, you’ll find two that have more.
Breaking Free from the Comparison Game
When we begin finding our identities in our comparisons to others, we lose sight of the identities God meant for us to have. And we inevitably see ourselves as less than someone else.
It took the word of God to break me free from this slavery. Studying what the Bible says about money reminded me that I am more than just a number and greater than the sum of the things I have.
God says I am bought by the blood of Christ (Eph. 2:13). He calls me temple of the Holy Spirit (I Cor. 6:19-20). I am God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works (Eph. 2:10). God has a plan and a purpose for me (Jer. 29:11). He sees eternal value in me, and He went to great lengths to claim me for himself.
I’ll never win when I play the comparison game. But I can win the race that God has set out for me to run.
As Christians, our identity comes from Christ. We are so much more than our salaries — we each have a unique calling and destiny in Him.
Some of us will accumulate a lot of wealth along the way; others will store up massive treasures in Heaven. But what matters is that when we come to the end of our lives, God can look at us and say “Well done”
I’ll never win when I play the comparison game. But I can win the race that God has set out for me to run. And the reward for that will be greater than the biggest of paychecks.