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The Lie of Comparison

Hebrews 13:5  Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

In the winter months, Queensland is bursting at the borders with grey nomads. Retirees have locked up their larger homes in favor of a smaller one. They are seeking sunny, warm weather and the delights that accompany traveling in a caravan. Namely, living with less, the freedom from responsibilities, the joys of meeting new people and the adventure of discovering new places. So with their shells snugly packed and attached, they set out in anticipation of all things new.

I know it well. And I long for it again.

However, longing unchecked, can be a dangerous thing. A restless yearning for more may appear innocent enough, but it must never be ignored. Experience has taught me that a longing unchecked can grow from the tiny seed of discontentment to the insidious fruit of jealousy and covetousness. And that is a place where none of God’s people ought to be.

What is the source of this longing? It starts with the lie of comparison. It begins to bring us undone when we tell ourselves that it’s better to be somewhere else, doing something else, with someone else. We are no longer content with what we have (Hebrews 13:5). We grow agitated, desiring more that the blessed situation God has favored us with. The tempting voice becomes louder until it can hardly be ignored. “Wouldn’t it be amazing to be doing that? Wouldn’t life be easier? Wouldn’t that be the solution to your problems right now?” And if our eyes are not firmly fixed on Jesus, if we have a divided heart that is easily deceived, then we will soon be distracted by the full force of the lies of comparison.

That inviting picture of freedom which we have so artfully created in our minds, becomes clearer and God’s provision becomes less appealing. We have moved away from the best God has given – what is good and right at this time in our lives – and now covet what appears better, more exciting freeing, fun etc.

Exodus 20:17 Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.

In fact, we are to not covet our neighbor’s anything, including their position, possessions, situation or lifestyle. Covet is to wrongfully desire what belongs to another. But why is it so wrong? To covet is to rebel against God. Covetousness says, “God has forgotten me. He hasn’t met my needs, and I can do better choosing and providing for myself.” Covetousness indicates that we are choosing to be the god of our lives as we reject God’s love and goodness to us. And that is sin.

However, the antithesis of this is to surrender to and trust God. Romans 13:14 commands us to love the Lord, with our entire being and not think about how to gratify (or satisfy) the desires of the sinful nature. Like Paul, we must discipline our thinking and restrain our emotions so that we will learn how to be content whatever our circumstances. Paul learnt the ‘secret’ of being content in any and every situation and that was to rely on God’s promises and Christ’s power to help him.

Philippians 4:12-13 I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

And we too must learn to rely on God’s promises and Christ’s indwelling power to overcome the lies of comparison and instead enjoy the pleasure of contentment. Does that mean all longings are sinful? By no means. But longings that take root in our heart and become a pernicious spirit of discontentment and grow into covetousness, definitely are.

This winter I can drive past the throng of caravans on the roads without feeling restless and a longing to be elsewhere. I am content with the station in life God has placed me in and I give no opportunity for the lying voice of comparison to take root in my heart. God has only goodness planned for me. A plan that far outweighs anything I could scheme and purpose for myself. His timing is perfect. Who knows? Perhaps in the days to come He may provide opportunity for me to caravan again through this great south land, but in the meantime, in His strength, I can be content. Whatever He orchestrates is very good.

Where do you find yourself in this story? Are you sliding into a place of comparison, spiraling downwards into discontentment, jealousy and covetousness? Perhaps the foundation of your life is not Christ, but the enticing, shifting sands offered by our western culture. Or are your feet firmly planted on the Rock of Christ, and you are unmoved by the lies of comparison? Your life is founded in Christ and as you trust His choices for your life and no temptation will move you away from Him.

“Father, keep me from the loves of this world, but grow in me a desire to love You in sincerity and truth. Help me to be strong and resist the strong temptations that I encounter. I surrender myself to You and desire to live in contentment and peace with all that You have graciously given to me. Amen.”

About Jennifer Woodley

Jennifer is an Australian freelance writer who lives in a small rural town in sunny Queensland. She is passionate about encouraging others on their journey with Christ through writing and mentoring. Jennifer is a school chaplain, wife, mother of three adult sons and loving grandma of one adorable grandson. More of her writing can be found at www.inhisname6.com and www.faithwriters.com.

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  1. The verse that comes to mind is Psalm 16:11. “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy. At your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

  2. Jennifer,

    Thank you for your important reminders and words supplementing God’s truths.
    Another fine article, I truly enjoyed it.

    God Bless you~

  3. This sin you spoke about can grow into bigger destructive ways as well.
    My thought goes to spending on things to satisfy our desires and the keeping up with the people around us to the point of going into bigger debt.
    It causes suffering to family members when wants are put before needs.
    Did you ever go to a store and hear a child screaming across the whole place because they couldn’t have what they want? Perhaps this is what we are like when we don’t appreciate what the Lord has given us.
    I have known of marriages ruined by the mismanagement of a spouse who is discontented and does foolish things to attempt to compete with others.

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