“Comparison is the death of joy.” ~ Mark Twain
The middle school girl was proud of her new outfit until she got to school. The college applicant was pleased with his test scores until he talked to friends. The retiree was content with his nest egg until neighbors began traveling. What makes someone ride high in one moment only to crash and burn in the next? Comparisons.
Pride and despair are different sides of the same coin. Those who make comparisons look for happiness in having more beauty, more intelligence and more wealth than the next person. Inevitably they eventually encounter an unflattering comparison and their confidence vanishes.
We can all struggle with making these deadly comparisons. Sadly, those in Mormonism can be especially susceptible to this. Words like “improvement” and “progress” are emphasized. The focus is on doing better, a word that is comparative by its very nature. The only way to gauge how you’re doing is with comparisons.
In social media, people compare their behind-the-scenes view with the highlight reel of others. Many Mormons have shared how they experience this phenomenon in Mormonism. Everyone else seems to have it all together, while you silently struggle. Fathers desperately seek success. Moms try to raise perfect children. Kids don’t want to fall short of expectations. Trying to keep up with the “Joneses” leads to feelings of inferiority.
When you find your identity in comparisons, it’s hard not to imagine God would do the same. Why did that person receive praise and I didn’t? Am I somehow less than they are? Why don’t those good things happen to me? Does God love me less than them? When your spiritual standing depends on comparisons, it’s devastating.
Yet, it doesn’t stop there.
The deadliest comparison in Mormonism is to Jesus.
He is commonly referred to as their Exemplar, or example. You are taught to become more like him. Since Jesus was perfect, you leave feeling defeated every time. Instead of looking to Jesus and finding relief, this comparison creates a crushing burden.
The religious leaders in Jesus’ day were caught up in comparisons. They felt superior to others and excluded tax collectors and sinners. Yet, it was these outcasts of society that often crowded around Jesus. Why?
They would have been the first to leave if Jesus’ focus was on comparisons. Clearly, he wasn’t. He approached each individual through grace.
Grace levels the playing field.
It begins when we recognize that we are hopelessly lost without Christ. We all, like sheep, went astray.
Yet, his love pursued us. He left the 99 in order to reach you. He would do anything to save you. He has done everything to save you. Now, safe in his arms, you know that you are infinitely loved and valued.
This new identity of grace also changes the way you now look at others. You can’t look down your nose at someone on the outside because we were once there. In fact, grace moves you to reach those who may be different from us in every way, because we now see them as equally loved through Jesus.
Finding your identity through comparisons creates manmade divisions and leads to either pride or despair. Finding your identity through grace in Jesus binds us together and brings true joy. Many still need to hear this message of grace. So, don’t compare…share!