The Thief of Comparison

It’s not news to anyone that we spend inordinate amounts of time online these days…which can lead to dissatisfaction with our own lives in comparison to the false perceptions of someone’s reality (however carefully chosen).  There are times I am set free when I see a post or photo of a friend without make up or with a messy kitchen or regaling her woes.  There are other times I am beaten down because I believe I will never “measure up” or my life isn’t as great as theirs.  (my job, my family, my house, my vacations, my younameit, I’m not enoughing it. )

It’s also quite likely that I myself have made people feel that very same way by what I post online.  (Please forgive me?)

The bottom line: I know I spend too much time comparing my life to others and it robs me of joy.  And comparison doesn’t stop there, it also snatches my motivation and increases my fear of doing what God’s called me to do.  (Because what they’re doing matters so much more, right?)

The thief of comparison is alive and well, folks.

One of my favorite of Jesus’ teachings is found in  Matthew 25, the Parable of the Talents. In this story a Master is going on a trip and he entrusts varying amounts of gold to his servants to watch over while he is away. He later returns to see how they cared for his treasure and is met with varying results.

I do believe this passage was written primarily about cold hard cash – aka gold coins.  But we’re missing a strong connection that can be made if we leave it at that.  When we think of “talents” more metaphorically speaking, we can include in this treasure our own talents, abilities, and God-given gifts.  (our real treasure, in my opinion.)

(anyone think there’s lots of parentheses going on here today, sheesh, Sarah!)

Oh do I LOVE teaching about the talents and this passage of scripture.  It totally convicts me people, and I hope it gently nudges (or pushes you) the same way – toward God’s best, not comparison or fear.

This passage teaches us 2 principles for good treasure management:  (think cash if you must, but please also include talents/abilities)

Principle #1: Don’t focus on the DIFFERENCE

Everyone is given different talents. For example, there are many great Women’s Speakers who have 5 talents, and in comparison, maybe I have 1 or 2. But if I compare myself to them, I will never properly multiply my own talents, because I will be looking at what they have, not what I have.

Shovels

But, we cannot always look at different talents (i.e. 5, 2,1 in the parable) as only quantities. They are merely different, as letters in the alphabet are different. A is different than B or C. Not better, just different.

We get so caught up comparing differences to others that it prevents us from using what we do have! 

Servant Three was given 5 talents, and Servant Two was given 2. But Servant Two doesn’t focus on the reasons he only got 2, nor does he argue with the Master about why he got a different amount of gold. Instead he works with what he is given and multiplies it!

Principle #2: It takes WORK to multiply our talents

Servant One and Servant Two doubled their talents. The Master is overjoyed at the results! The NKJV Bible version says, “Then he who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and made another five talents.”

His talents didn’t magically multiply…he worked hard to double his treasure. He may have been blessed by “more” talents than Servant One or Two, but he still had to get out there and use them to grow them.

On the other hand, Servant One buried his talent in the ground. Perhaps he was jealous of the other servants because they got more gold than him. But in the end, his jealousy, fear, anger – whatever caused him to get out the shovel – left him in deep trouble with the Master upon his return. He did not WORK with what was given. And he paid the price.

We are all given different gifts. But the amount given doesn’t change the Master’s expectations.

What counts is what we do with what we’re given.

The thief of comparison wants you to bury your talents.  But the God of joy wants you to multiply.

Who you gonna listen to?

Sarah Beckman inspires people from the stage and on the page. She is the bestselling author of Alongside: A Practical Guide for Loving your Neighbor in their Time of Trial, which is filled with practical tools to love people well in the rough patches of life. Sarah speaks to audiences across the country on topics such as loving your neighbor, sharing your faith, safeguarding your marriage and digging up your talents.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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4 thoughts on “The Thief of Comparison

  1. Dear Sarah,
    My husband and I were discussing something similar just the other day. We are in prayer about how to multiply our money and our talents and what we have been blessed with to see it put in good use. To see it multiply. Bless others too. My problem is comparison, and I have been taught that comparison, Will and has robbed my Joy. It’s practicing and practicing and practicing to not compare. Sometimes I feel like it’s a thorn in my side. My question for you is, how do we know what our talents are, our gifts? What if I am chasing something I am not ment to, or no good at??? How do we identify this gift/talent and run with it, work on it to see it multiply?

    • Rochelle, Thank you for your honest response! This can be such a challenge huh? first of all, I love that you are consciously working toward not comparing, and not letting that steal your joy in life (we all have to work on this, but knowing it’s an issue is the first step!) As for how to know what your talents or gifts are… there are many different assessments you can do online (spiritual gifts inventory type things) and I really believe also what we love to do we should do for the Lord. In other words, it’s ok to LOVE what you do for God’s kingdom. For example, I love to talk to people : ) (surprise) and so I do greeting and info desk at church. If you love kids, or teens, or adults, or music, or organizing, or decorating (remodel missionary houses or serve someone with cancer in need by or knitting (prayer shawls?) or prayer… there are so many ways to serve using what we already love to do! We should never feel like we always have to do what’s not in our wheelhouse – God wants this to be a joyful journey. We have to let go of guilt and do what’s ours to do. Everyone wins that way.
      I also believe that God doesn’t want to withhold his best for you. And he isn’t trying to hide his will. If you feel doubt – what is the source of that doubt and seek truth! God is truth and he isn’t playing hide and seek with his will! So move forward in faith and seek confirmation!
      I give a whole talk on “digging up your talents” and I’d love to chat if you still have questions. Email me at sarah@sarahbeckman.org.
      Blessings as you move forward in faith.

  2. Great message Sarah! I think more people (myself included) need this reminder. Our differences are what make us unique and when we apply hard work to our unique talents, the Lord multiplies the results!

    Thanks for sharing. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!