Skip to content ↓

Thank You, God, That I Am Not Like Other Men

Thank You God That I Am Not Like Other Men

Comparison comes as naturally to us as eating, breathing, laughing, weeping. From our youngest days we begin to compare ourselves to others and quickly find the old adage to be true: Comparison is the enemy of joy. Though we so readily compare ourselves with others, we discover that this fosters a deep unhappiness. What promises joy actually delivers misery.

The reason is that comparison is intrinsically competitive, so that we don’t really want to be merely pretty, but prettier than the other person; we don’t really want to be merely wealthy, but wealthier than he is; we don’t really want to be merely successful, but more successful than the other person. No follower count is high enough until it is higher than hers, no church big enough until it is bigger than his. If we fail to get the things our hearts desire we grow in envy, but if we do get them we grow in pride. Our comparison is never rewarded with contentment.

Even in our Christian lives we can be prone to comparison. We can judge ourselves righteous by comparing ourselves to others’ depravity, we can judge ourselves faithful by comparing ourselves to others’ sinfulness, we can judge ourselves committed by comparing ourselves to others’ apathy. We can become like the Pharisee Jesus introduced in a parable—the one who went to the temple to pray and said, “I thank you, God, that I am not like other men”—especially like that traitorous tax collector who stood nearby. With such an attitude it is little wonder that Jesus “told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt.”

Yet if comparison is most naturally the enemy of joy, it can supernaturally become its ally. However, comparison can only become an ally when we use it to compare ourselves to the right standard and if we do so for the right reason. It can only become an ally when we compare ourselves to Jesus out of a longing to be more like him. The way to grow in holiness is not to compare ourselves to other people, but to compare ourselves to the Savior.

If you are at a theme park and want to ride the rollercoasters, you need to be a certain height. It doesn’t matter if you’re taller than anyone else—all that matters is if your head comes up to the top of their measuring tape. The Pharisee fell into the universal temptation of judging himself a good man by comparing himself to people he considered worse. But that’s like trying to ride the coasters by saying “I’m taller than this other person!” That doesn’t matter because that’s not the right measure. What matters is if you come up to the mark.

Similarly, we love to compare ourselves to other people because it’s a comparison we can easily win. We only need to look around long enough to find someone who is worse, and that’s never hard to do. But it doesn’t matter if we are holier than the person who is next to us or the person who is on the TV screen. What matters is if we are as holy as Jesus, for he is the one who perfectly demonstrated how to live an unblemished life, how to love the Lord with his whole heart, soul, strength, and mind, and to love his neighbor as himself. When we compare ourselves to him we will always be confronted and challenged—we will see our shortcomings, we will repent of them, and we will take up the challenge to be more and more conformed to his image. It’s a comparison we will always lose, yet instead of growing in envy and pride, we will only ever grow in humility and the godliness that it fosters.

  • A Difference Making Ministry for Any Christian

    A Difference-Making Ministry for Any Christian

    The experience of preaching is very different from the front than from the back, when facing the congregation than when facing the preacher. The congregation faces one man who is doing his utmost to be engaging, to hold their attention, and to apply truths that will impact their hearts and transform their lives.

  • A La Carte Collection cover image

    A La Carte (February 19)

    A La Carte: Courageous pastors or overbearing leaders? / Jesus didn’t diss the poor / 8 qualities of true revival / Why don’t you talk about the sermon? / The idol of competence / The danger of inhospitality / and more.

  • Why Those Who Seem Most Likely to Come, Never Come At All

    Why Those Who Seem Most Likely to Come, Never Come At All

    It is something we have all observed at one time or another and something we have all wondered about. Why is it that those who seem most likely to come to Christ so often reject him? Why is it that those hear the boldest invitations and who have the greatest opportunities so commonly turn away?…

  • A La Carte Collection cover image

    Weekend A La Carte (February 17)

    A La Carte: Think you’re immune to adultery? / One of the most hopeful reminders about sanctification / What do we do with dreams and visions? / Have you ever asked your church elders to visit and pray for you? / The neurodivergent believer / Preaching advice for busy pastors / and more.

  • Free Stuff Fridays (Open the Bible)

    This week’s Free Stuff Friday is sponsored by Open the Bible. They encourage you to enter to win a series of books from Open the Bible and Pastor Colin Smith! Included in the giveaway are: For All Who Grieve by Pastor Colin Smith. Written with compassion and understanding, yet honestly facing the difficult questions that…

  • Moral Vision

    From Washington & Jefferson to Trump & Biden

    The United States has produced more than its fair share of fascinating figures. Over the course of its storied history, it has produced a host of figures who have shaped the nation, the continent, and the world. Many of these have been its presidents and politicians, though others have been its inventors, its business leaders,…