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The Comparison Trap
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Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else. For we are each responsible for our own conduct. – Galatians 6:4-5 (NLT)
While we may not like to admit it, most of us have fallen into the comparison trap at some time or another. Even the friendliest of circumstances can create a risk of “one-upmanship” if we are not careful; to possess something that is at least as good as…
The list is endless. From prized recipes to stock portfolios, we want, we want, we want what everyone else has. Sadly, once we fall into the comparison trap, we often end up forfeiting our own blessings and peace of mind.
I’m not saying to want is wrong. But what we do with our wants may be a different story entirely. In dealing with our wants, we need to carefully examine the desire behind the want.
Do we want because it – whatever “it” is – will improve our lives? Certainly exercise equipment can be of great benefit. My daughter owns a treadmill and uses it religiously. She also has three energetic young sons and time demands, so taking a leisurely walk in the park or going to a gym is not an option for her.
On the other hand, I can enjoy walking in the park or on nature trails with a camera in tow. But I’m also an empty-nester with an hour for lunch during my work week The fact I work near a park area helps, too. It would be senseless for me to buy a treadmill, not to mention the damage done to my bank account for doing so.
Do we want because someone else has? Someone you know buys a new car. Bells and whistles galore. Great gas mileage as well. And they have the audacity to park their new sleek-and-sporty next to your ten-year old (still paid for) “vintage” model. Suddenly, your vehicle looks a little shabby, a little dull of finish, a little outdated in body style…
Can’t you just picture yourself with a new set of wheels? Why, you’d be the talk of the office or the cul-de-sac with a sweet new ride like that - even though your “faithful dependable” is still faithfully dependable. And let’s not overlook the fact that monthly car payment is currently not within your already tight budget.
Do we want because we possess the power to take away from someone else? We see this possibility played out every day in war-torn areas of the world. We see it in stately corporate boardrooms. We see it in pre-school classrooms. Someone wants what someone else has. Forget the fact we already have something similar or even identical, that’s of equal or greater value. We want what they have just because they have it, and we’ll do whatever it takes to make our “acquisition” successful.
The power trip. The thrill of the game. We didn’t really want “it”; we just didn’t want the other person to have it either.
But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. – 1 Timothy 6:6-8 (NIV)
May we all learn to be content with what we have and do whatever it takes to avoid falling into the comparison trap. In the meantime, I have a storage room full of “stuff” in need of emptying. Today seems like a good day to get started…
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