The Comparison Trap

The Comparison Trap

In John 21 we find a beautiful story about Jesus restoring Peter after his three denials over the time of the crucifixion.  What Peter must have been thinking as he swam to shore… I really messed up.  What dumb mistakes.  How can I ever make it up to Jesus.

Of course Jesus doesn’t need Peter to make it up to him, the whole purpose of the Cross was to pay a price we could not pay.

With the reverberations of the three denials in his head Jesus asks him three times, do you love me. The Greek words employed by Peter and Jesus say a lot more about where they are coming from than just “love”.  Roughly the “love” Jesus and Peter are talking about in the Greek is Agape and Phileo.  While I am not a scholar I would translate it roughly like this:

Peter do you love me with the full love of God, more than all others?  

            Jesus I love you like a brother.

Peter do you love me with the full love of God?  

            Jesus I love you like a brother.

Peter do you love me like a brother?  

            Jesus I love you like a brother.

Peter’s mouth wrote a lot of checks his body could not cash over his three years with Jesus.  The most glaring for this context is when he said recorded Matthew 26 and Mark 14 that he would never fall away, even if everyone else did.

In the early morning hours as Jesus was interrogated, beaten and imprisoned the world came calling for that statement and Peter’s account was sadly empty.  Is this what he was thinking as he swam to shore, as he answered Jesus’ questions with a newly found humility.  Maybe he was done making bold claims? Well he was done making bold claims about himself but when the Holy Spirit descended he gave some of the boldest and courageous testimony the world has ever known to the greatness of his Savior.


While we are on the subject of comparison, let’s look at what Paul has to say on the subject as well:

2 Corinthians 10:12-18

12 We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise. 13 We, however, will not boast beyond proper limits, but will confine our boasting to the sphere of service God himself has assigned to us, a sphere that also includes you. 14 We are not going too far in our boasting, as would be the case if we had not come to you, for we did get as far as you with the gospel of Christ. 15 Neither do we go beyond our limits by boasting of work done by others. Our hope is that, as your faith continues to grow, our sphere of activity among you will greatly expand, 16 so that we can preach the gospel in the regions beyond you. For we do not want to boast about work already done in someone else’s territory. 17 But, “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.” 18 For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.


Here are some practical take-aways for us to employ in our Christian walk:


1. Stop comparing yourself to others.  Do you when driving down the road have the strange compulsion when you see a car to follow them to wherever they are going? Do you walk through a neighborhood and walk into other people’s homes at dinner time? No that would be crazy right? (OK I admit to doing the dinner thing through my mid-20’s)

Why do we feel the need to compare ourselves to others who are going down a different road, to a different destination.  If you were to follow them all you would succeed in doing, at best, would be to miss what you were supposed to be doing.  At worst you might get into some deep trouble!


2. Test your actions and desires in light of your walk with Jesus, your walk!  There was a time when I was consumed with scoreboards and grade books, wrapped my whole existence up in what they said about where I was in comparison to all of the others.  Now I understand God is more concerned with personal best… how can I follow God in such a way that I give God my best and in return can receive the best God has for me?

3. Be Grateful for what you have.  You will always have less than some and will always have more than some when it comes to every commodity the world has ever know.  Being thankful for whatever you have, for the daily bread is God’s way of helping us remove our eyes from the plates and storehouses of others.

4. Pleasing Jesus is all that matters.  If I serve Christ the wrong people are going to hate me and the right people are going to love me.  If I serve myself or I serve others I will please the wrong people and alienate the people God has sent to journey with me.

You will climb an avalanche but the Bible will help you ascend a rock that withstands the ages.




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