Ungodly comparison comes pretty easily to us. It’s like an annoying habit that someone doesn’t realize they have until someone points it out. Comparing ourselves isn’t the problem, rather it’s the objects of our comparison. Ungodly comparison formulates either a disappointed view or an over-inflated view of yourself; and either way creates a toxic brew of strife & rivalry with those whom you’re comparing yourself.
Christ’s sermon on the mount trains our eyes to see ourselves rightly. Jesus tells His disciples to compare their righteousness with that of the Pharisees (Mt. 5:20); as Matthew Henry put it, “We must do more than [the Pharisees], and better than they, or we shall come short of heaven.” This comparison with scrupulous law-followers is enough to leave anyone feeling that their own righteousness fails to meet the divine standard of moral justice.
So, Jesus then invites us to compare ourselves to the lilies of the field & sparrows of the air (Mt. 6:25-30). The Father clothes & keeps them, how much more shall He provide for His own children.
Christ points out our bad habit of looking out of the corner of our eye to compare ourselves to others. As Paul puts it in one place, “they measure themselves by themselves (2 Cor. 10:12).” But Jesus is the one about whom Isaiah says, “To whom will you compare Me (Cf. Is. 46:5)?”
Who compares to God? The answer, of course, is none of us. Who can live up to the Pharisee’s scrupulous outward morality? The answer is, very few of us. But who does the Father clothe & keep? His own beloved children. Those who are God’s children are those who follow Christ and His command to seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you (Mt. 6:33). If we obey Christ in this, we’ll be able to make righteous comparisons because our eyes won’t be on our own or others’ righteousness, but on the providential care of our Incomparable God.
We too often cast our eyes on earthly measures of righteousness, instead of on God’s perfect Law and it’s fulfillment by our Lord Jesus. This ungodly comparison leaves us both grieved with our own failure and puffed up with our own self-righteousness. God invites us, however, to look to Christ crucified and see there the greatness of our sin, the greatness of Christ’s mercy, and the greatness of the Father’s love to those who come to Him by faith. Cease living with a side-eye, and instead fixed your eyes firmly on Christ and His righteousness.