Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Carnality of Comparisons

"Wow. That girl is on the elliptical and not one bit of her body jiggles. Her back is really strong, too - holy cow! I bet she hasn't had four kids, though. And could her shorts be any shorter? You are definitely looking for attention if you're wearing shorts that short to the gym. Oh, and see...now I can see that her face isn't all that pretty...."

Wait. What?!

The above conversation is one I actually had with myself at the gym last week. It was right around "her face isn't all that pretty," that a quote from a book I've been reading over the last couple weeks screamed at me: "comparison is at the core of carnality." (From Good to Great in God's Eyes by Chip Ingram).

Need a little more clarification on that? I looked up the definition of "carnality" (base word "carnal" of course): relating to or given to crude bodily pleasures; bodily; worldly; temporal.


So, as soon as the quote screamed at me, I reached up, grabbed a hold of that thought bubble, crushed it, and stomped on it

I realized that was exactly what I was doing! I was comparing myself to that girl. I was noticing all the good things about her that made me feel awful about myself, and then to balance it out, I was looking for something bad to say about her.

That's ten different kinds of ugly.

Just after Chip Ingram laid that little bit of wisdom out, he elaborated by saying, "...when I compare my gifts with someone else's, there are only two places to go: inferiority or superiority. I either become envious or arrogant. It's the same when I compare personalities, success, possessions, relationships, or anything else."

The scriptural basis he uses for this is 2 Corinthians 10:12:
We do not dare classify or compare ourselves with someone who commends themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise" (NIV).
In this part of Paul's second letter to the Corinthians, he is defending his ministry. In doing so, however, he is trying to be careful not to put himself in the same category as the people who are putting themselves above Paul and boasting because he knows comparisons and competitions are futile.

The Message Bible puts it this way:
We're not, understand, putting ourselves in a league with those who boast that they're our superiors. We wouldn't dare do that. But in all this comparing and grading and competing, they quite miss the point.
They miss the point. *sigh*

I've written about this before, about my need for humility and comparing myself to others internally (see "I Am So Much Better Than You...In My Head"). This is not a new struggle, my my God is faithful and good. He sees me and He knows me. He knows I don't always get it the first time, and like Saxon math, I need a spiral approach to learn the lesson thoroughly; I need a lesson and then practice and then another lesson and more practice until I really get it down.

I need this lesson a lot because, honestly, I think this is deeply ingrained in our culture, particularly in girls. Girls are ruthless when it comes to comparisons, and frankly, sometimes when you're growing up it feels like you have to find ugly in the ones who are so mean to you because you feel like, if you don't, you're going to forget there was anything good about yourself. 

Girls are mentally and emotionally vicious. They don't attack the body as much as they do the heart and mind, and they are bloodthirsty.

The sinful nature at its worst.

It's time we stopped it. It's high time we, as women, stopped this nonsense in ourselves and in our daughters. We have to teach them to look at the beauty in others and in themselves when they look in the mirror. 

I'm going to start with me, and my girls. 

In the Bible, Joshua once said:
But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD. (Joshua 24:15, NIV, emphasis added).
I'd like to change that around a bit. I'd like to say this:
But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then go ahead and choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods of inferiority, or the gods of superiority, or some unhealthy combination of the two, in whose land you are living and breathing and dying. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.
So today, when you look at that girl with the perfect thighs or hair or voice or anything else and you're tempted to try to find something else wrong with her to compensate, or you skip right over that and go straight to putting yourself down and calling parts of you worthless, remember that you are a daughter of a mighty God, created by Him personally; you are his masterpiece...and so is she.

Linking up with:
Time Warp Wife - Titus 2sday
Juana Mikels
Simply Beth - Three Word Wednesday


  1. rich thought, deep truths to ponder here! 'ten different kinds of ugly" ... how true ... and yet He still loves us and calls us beloved.

    maybe we could show just a bit of that grace to ourselves ... and others.

    so good to meet you today, Alissa!

  2. Great post! I experience these same feelings too, and may not always "like" me or my circumstances, but He has something far better in mind than anything I can come up with. I try to stop and remember that God's character goes into the creation of every person, and that I must have as much respect for myself (and others) as He has for me. :)

    Thanks for visiting me over at Refine Me!
    Blessings and love,

    1. You're welcome, Denise! Thank you for visiting, too!