Nobody Wins the Comparison Game

Via Flickr, by user Jason Hargrove. Used under Creative Commons License.

It used to drive me crazy: As a young journalist just a couple of years out of school, I didn’t make much money (although I certainly enjoyed my job traveling 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 school 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.

Almost everyone I met told me that they envied my job as a travel writer. But secretly, I envied what they had. They had big jobs in well-respected fields, that would pay them big dollars over time. Throughout their lives, they would enjoy expensive houses, fancy cars and luxurious vacations. I told myself that it was because these guys had “sold out,” pursuing big-money majors in college instead of being true to themselves (like I thought I had been). But really, I was jealous, plain and simple.

It wasn’t so much the material stuff that made me jealous — it was the fact that these people were going to be obviously wealthy. Society would look at them and say, “Wow, he’s been really successful. Look how much money he has! He’s great.” And I had trouble with the idea of  someone besides me being the most celebrated person in the room.

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 — those who made less than I did, and those who made more. The former, I could pridefully laugh off as “losers.” The latter made me mad. They were sell-outs, no-goods, greedy wretches who didn’t deserve the things that 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. When we begin finding our identities in our comparisons to others, we lose sight of who we really are, and inevitably see ourselves as less.

It took the word of God to break me out of this slavery. He reminded me that I am more than just a number, and more than the sum of the things I have. I am bought by the blood of Christ (Eph. 2:13). I’m the 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 an eternal value in me, and He went to great lengths to claim me for himself.

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, the Master can look at us and say “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

That’s a reward that’s greater than the biggest of paychecks.



  1. […] it’s easy to look at the heroes of the modern age and compare ourselves to them. But nobody wins the comparison game. And if we become fixated on what they have, it’s easy to lose sight of what we have, or even […]

  2. […] to see our lives through the lens of that false identity, we develop distorted vision. We play the comparison game, failing to see the value in people who do not measure up to us financially. Or we see ourselves as […]

  3. […] state of poverty. Sometimes, that slavery creeps in via false ideas and wrong attitudes: We compare ourselves to others; we become discontent; we let money tell us who we are; we trust in our finances more […]

  4. […] attitude takes us to a pretty bleak place. At best, we get caught up in comparing ourselves to others. At worst, we can develop a full-blown poverty […]

  5. […] we look at our financial lives, it’s easy for us to play the comparison game. We like to see where we stack up in relation to the people around us. We get a confidence boost […]

  6. […] and pernicious ways, money takes hold of our hearts, making us captives to greed, debt, poverty, insecurity and other bondage. If we’re not careful, we can wake up one day to find that money has taken […]

  7. […] always do us a lot of favors. Too many Americans get caught in poverty, overspending, debt, envy and other poisonous practices because that’s what they saw their parents doing. In fact, many […]

  8. […] talked in theory about a lot of the ways that money can make you a slave: greed, stinginess, envy, debt and the like. But it’s also instructive to study the lives of people who exhibit the […]

  9. […] and material possessions are tricky — if we’re not careful, things like greed, debt, envy and discontentment can make slaves of us. In this series, we’ve seen how some of those […]

  10. […] about the ways that money can make slaves of us. Some of them are obvious. like greed, selfishness, envy and poverty. Others are more subtle, like false identity and  sinful motivations. But perhaps the […]

  11. […] financial attitudes that can bind us up in slavery. A thankful heart isn’t stingy, greedy or envious. Thankfulness is the antidote to discontentment, and  frees us from false identity, false […]

  12. […] matter how much you’ve been blessed — you’ll constantly be tempted to compare yourself to others. And when you do that, your heart becomes blind, and you miss out on the riches of Christ in your […]

  13. […] are all sorts of ways that money can make slaves of us — debt, selfishness, greed, envy, etc. — and that slavery can stand in the way of us living the lives that God has called us […]

  14. […] talked before about the dangers of comparison, and how constantly comparing yourself to others can make you a slave to money. Nobody wins the  comparison game. Today’s lesson is […]

  15. […] financial challenges come in different ways. For me, the struggles come in the form of the Comparison Game — I have a tendency to use money as a scorekeeper in life. If I’m doing well […]

  16. […] your heart. If we’re not careful, money can make us envious of others, cause us to constantly compare ourselves to people around us, and even make us discontent with the things that God has blessed us with. But our identities are […]

  17. […] Pride can show up in our financial lives in a variety of ways. One is the subtle, quiet kind of pride that comes from comparing yourself to others and deciding that you’re more successful than they are. It can be kind of fun (in a really twisted way) to look around and see how much “better” you’re doing than your peers. But this is a two-edged sword. Get in the habit of comparing yourself to others, and you’ll inevitably encounter someone who is more financially successful than you are. When that happens, it can be a devastating blow to the pride that you’ve been building up. In the end, nobody wins the comparison game. […]

  18. […] in our hearts is to compare ourselves to other people and find our significance in our net worth. Nobody wins the comparison game, but it seems like everyone wants to play. If you derive your identity from comparing your wealth […]

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