“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. When we grumble once, it causes us to grumble again. The cycle repeats until we are living in discontentment.” ~ I Timothy 6:6-8
I have always feared the comparison game. Comparison in a marriage, the family, the workplace, and the church can crumble even the strongest foundations. Comparison leads to discontentment. Discontentment leads to self-pride and a superiority complex. Soon pride leads to a sense of entitlement. The sense of entitlement leads to fighting and joy eventually dies. Let me give you an example in my marriage.
I will compare my husband Chris to my best friend’s husband. My best friend’s husband is the hardest worker I have ever met. A natural perfectionist, he thrives on a job well done and cannot quit anything until it hits the highest level of perfection. He works long hours bringing home over time pay. Once home, he straightens the house, runs the vacuum cleaner, dusts, washes dishes, etc. He never leaves his clothes on the floor, his dishes in the sink or lose change on the nightstand. If he sees my best friend’s car is dirty, he takes care of it and washes it for her. He doesn’t expect fan fare for his service. He just does what he sees needs to be done. My husband on the other hand hates over time. He wants to punch out as soon as 5:30pm comes. In a perfect world, he wouldn’t work his full 40 hours but would work 30. When he gets home from work, he’s tired so he collapses on the couch and talks to me while I’m cooking dinner. After dinner, he relaxes until bed time. No dishes. No laundry. No housekeeping. On Tuesdays after he takes the trash out, he tells me about it. Just in case I missed that he took it out. He needs a little affirmation that he has done this chore well.
When I compare my husband to my friend’s husband, I feel discontentment. I really wish he helped out around the house more. It would be nice if he washed a dish once in a while. Ten years of marriage and he has never once done the first load of laundry. Soon I start to inflate. I do everything — all the cooking, cleaning, laundry. I work full time too, yet somehow I manage to pay the bills, cook the meals, and clean the house. I bring way more to this marriage than my husband does. He needs to step up and do more. I deserve that! Pride has entered the scene with his tailcoat of self entitlement. Stewing over the things my husband doesn’t do causes my blood to boil. All joy is gone and all that remains is anger, resentment and pride. You can imagine my temperament if I’m in this kind of mood. My fuse is short. My answers cryptic. I’m ready to spar at the drop of a hat.
I am no longer thanking God for the husband and marriage he has given me. Instead I want something else. Something greener. And the very first step in this cataclysmic landslide? Comparison!
Looking to the Bible for a few answers, I found the apostle Paul. Paul suffered great abuse, but in Philippians 4:11 he tells us the condition of his heart. “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” How could he be so content? By following the advice he gave just a few verses sooner.
“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” ~ Philippians 4:8
When has comparison led to heartache for you? Be sure to check back in tomorrow when I give the flip side to this story — how to win at playing the comparison game.