My heart felt heavy and busy, filled with thoughts of inferiority, insignificance, worthlessness.
Nothing significant had happened to cause my heart to be filled with such feelings. Nothing, that is, except that I had once again allowed my heart to buy into the deceptive allure of playing The Comparison Game: I saw pictures of a friend’s newly-remodeled home: it looks so nice and stylish, why do I have to be so lame and sterile with how I decorate my home?
I saw another friend’s new blog: why do I even bother writing here when it’s “just another post” in the myriad of posts in the internet world? I saw another person’s creative gifts ideas for Christmas: my ideas for some gifts are sooo from 2017. I saw people around me with close friendships: why does it feel like my friendships are slipping through my fingers?
I wanted to wallow in my little pity-party, because of course, it felt good to be the center of attention for once.
But I knew such an attitude was not pleasing to the Lord; I knew I needed a heart adjustment.
But again, my flesh didn’t want to adjust the focus of my heart.
So I prayed that He would give me the desire and the strength to refocus the thoughts of my heart.
God, in His mercy, directed my heart towards two passages that showed me two areas where my heart needed redirecting:
1. My Vertical Attitude: Christ is to be my source of joy
“Because your steadfast love is better than life,
my lips will praise you.”
Psalm 63:3 (ESV)
“Better than life”: That includes all those areas where I feel so inferior, so lacking in my abilities, so, so everything….
His love is better than life.
He is the One who produces praise that overflows from a heart satisfied in Him alone.
When I allow the attitudes of my heart and mind to turn self-ward, I take my eyes off of the One who is “Better than life [and everything in it]” and essentially say “God, Your love isn’t enough. I want something else. And that something else is going to give me the joy that I want.”
I don’t think the struggle to be completely satisfied in God as our ultimate source of joy will ever end until we are in His presence, face to face, beholding His glory. But on that day, oh what glory it will be to finally behold Him, the One who is better than life itself.
2. My Horizontal Attitude: My actions towards others are to be motivated by love and humility
“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”
Philippians 2:3 (ESV)
When I compare what “I have” with what “they have”, it all boils down to “How does this affect me?”
Playing The Comparison Game really does become all about me: do I appear smarter? Am I more creative? Am I more talented or capable? Is my house more organized, clean, fashionable? The list goes on…
If I conclude that the answer is yes, I smugly pat myself on the back for winning this particular round of The Comparison Game.
If however, I conclude that the answer is no, I allow myself to feel worthless, insignificant, useless. I ask myself over and over again, “Why can’t I be better?”
However, Philippians 2:3 gives a black and white rule for how we are to view ourselves relative to those around us: we are to put ourselves lower than them and make them more important than ourselves.
This means that, in light of the grand scheme of this life and eternity, being more talented, creative, fashionable, knowledgeable, skilled than the next person is irrelevant to how we interact with each other.
What is relevant to our relationships with each other is that we regard each other as more significant than ourselves.
What is relevant to our relationships is how we make the other person to be more important and how we make ourselves to be less important.
What is relevant is that we approach each other out of love and humility.
In fact, in light of this reality, we shouldn’t even be playing The Comparison Game–it shouldn’t even be in the game closet to occasionally pull out and practice our skills at playing it.
We cannot close this discussion on love and humility without remembering that the verses following Philippians 2:3 gives us the ultimate example of love and humility: Christ.
Paul reminds us that Christ, “though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:6-8, ESV)
Yes, Christ left His divine glory and was clothed as a servant, for our sake. Not only that, but He willingly went to the cross, and while He hung on that cursed cross, He took upon Himself the wrath of God Almighty. Out of love for you and me, He made Himself as low as He could get.
If Christ, out of humility and love for us, set aside His glory and gave His life for us, is it too much for us to set aside our pride, jealousy, and envy in order to follow His example by showing love towards those around us?
If we remember that our source of joy comes from the Lord, then we can, indeed, “forget” about our reputation. In turn, we can then focus on counting those around us as more significant than ourselves and loving them with Christ’s love.
And if we’re honest, there is much more joy to be found in focusing on the other person than on ourselves, is there not?