Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Not all comparisons are bad. The response to comparison could be good or bad. Bad response to comparison is envy, hatred, and even killing. People who fail to see others with the lens of love or the lens of God can easily fall prey to envy and division in relationships when they compare themselves with others.
I worked in a corporate office many years ago. Hard work led to my first promotion to manager. Our team needs more people. Of many applicants, my boss hired a young schoolteacher. Soon, she seemed to become a favorite of my boss.
I started to compare myself with this new coworker.
1. She did not have as much education as most of us, we had Ph.D., but she only has a bachelor’s degree.
2. It is so unfair that my boss favors her. I have been there longer and worked so hard.
Now, I was assigned to teach her everything that I knew. I had insecurity in me: what if she learns everything from me and gets promoted? Why do I need to be the one to invest in her promotion? I resented her for help to further her career.
Reluctantly, I had to train her to fulfill my assignment. Inside, I was angry at this ‘unfairness.’ She has become my enemy in my eyes. I wanted to avoid her at all costs.
At that time, I was a young Christian. I knew that these kinds of thoughts were not good or not pleasing to God. But I did not know how to get rid of it. One day, I came across the Bible verse, “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,” Matthew 5:44.
I decided to be obedient and prayed to bless my coworker every day. In the beginning, the angry thoughts persisted whenever she appeared in front of me. A few months later, she brought her daughter to the office for ‘bringing you kids working day.’ She came and introduced her daughter to me. We happily chat. Suddenly, I realized that intense envy and anger were no longer there. I can look at her in the eye and carry on a pleasant conversation. My coworker was never my enemy. However, she became my enemy through the lens of comparison and envy.
Look back on my experience, and I had few comparisons: compare qualifications or efforts (Ph.D. vs. a bachelor’s degree), my boss’ favor on me vs. on my coworker, more is expected of me than that of her.
We see this kind of comparison between siblings within the family. If there is perceived favoritism from the parents, there is comparison, envy, and even hatred.
We see this kind of comparison in the church: educated vs. non-educated, favored vs. non favored, anointed vs. not so anointed, gifted vs. not so gifted, prophetic vs. not so prophetic, the list goes on and on. Maybe you could be envying the eye if you are highly favored, prophetic, gifted, anointed, and apostolic.
I am reminded of the story of Cain and Abel. Cain’s response to the comparison of offering and God’s favor lead him to kill brother Abel. The Bible did not explain why God accepted Abel’s offering, not Cain’s. God called Abel a prophet (Luke 11:50-51) and a man of faith (Hebrew 11:4), which meant Abel believed in God and God’s promise and had a relationship with God and could hear God’s voice. On the contrary, Cain abandoned himself for the sake of gain (Jude 1:11), which meant that he worked himself to death for money or living – God referred to it as evil deeds. Wow, a lot of people are doing that. I have to ask myself – am I doing that?
We fixed our eyes on what kind of offering was pleasing to God. At the end of the day, what matters is our heart, which is reflected in our view of God, self, and others. When we see God as a good father who loves each one of us, we are secure in His love, and we would not be judging the fairness of His favor on people. It is Cain who compared and became jealous and killed. Abel, who had faith in God and heard His voice, did not compare.
Have an intimate relationship with God will help us to see God as who He is, see self as God sees us, and see others as God sees them. That is The Lens of Love.
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