God has given each one of us an individual calling and purpose as Believers. That purpose is to go out into the world and tell others about our glorious King. We were each born with gifts that will be used to bring glory to Him and to further His kingdom. So what happens when there are others out there who have been blessed with similar gifts as ours? Should we stop and compare ourselves to them and see how we add up? I’m afraid that this tends to be our natural tendency. There were two women who were each chosen and favored by God. Two women who were family. It is time for us to pause and see what we can learn about comparison from the two cousins Mary and Elizabeth.
We begin our lesson in the book of Luke. It is there where we learn about the coming birth of John the Baptist and about his parents. Their names were Zechariah and Elizabeth. The word says they were righteous in God’s eyes, and careful to obey all of the Lord’s commandments and regulations (Luke 1:6). They were also both very old and unable to conceive. One day while in the sanctuary of the Temple, Zechariah was visited by an angel of the Lord who told him that his wife Elizabeth would conceive a child. Their son would be a man with the spirit and power of Elijah (Luke 1:17) and would prepare the people for the coming of the Lord.
When Elizabeth was in her sixth month of pregnancy, God sent the same angel Gabriel to Nazareth to visit Mary. Mary had found favor with God and was chosen to conceive and give birth to a son who would be named Jesus (Luke 1:28-33). The baby would be born holy and would be called the Son of God. The angel also told her of her cousin Elizabeth’s pregnancy in her old age. Mary was chosen to be the mother of our Savior whose Kingdom will never end.
“Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” And then the angel left her.
Mary and Elizabeth
Both of these women were graciously favored by God. They were each predestined for incredible callings to be Mother’s to men that had been prophesied about. The Messiah and a man with the power and spirit of Elijah. When I stop to think about each of these miracles, I can imagine that each was excited to tell the other one the good news. In fact it was only a few days later that Mary hurried to the town were Zechariah and Elizabeth lived. At the sound of Mary’s greeting, Elizabeth’s child leaped within her, and she was filled with the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:39-41).
What I couldn’t help but notice was Elizabeth’s reaction to Mary. It struck me. Here was a woman of old age who once thought that she would never conceive. God had answered her and her Husband’s prayers and blessed them with a son. Yet when it came time to share this exciting news with Mary, this is what happened instead…
“Elizabeth gave a glad cry and exclaimed to Mary, “God has blessed you above all women, and your child is blessed. Why am I so honored, that the mother of my Lord should visit with me? When I heard your greeting, the baby in my womb jumped for joy. You are blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what he said.””
She chose humility, and gave her younger cousin the honor she was due.
There was no jealousy at the fact that her little cousin was chosen to be the Mother of the Lord, there was no questioning why Mary had been chosen instead of herself, and there was no second guessing God’s choice. Instead, there was rejoicing that each one played a part in God’s perfect plan.
No Comparison for Them
These two Godly women could have glanced at each other and compared notes but instead they were able to give us a glimpse at what sisterly love is. They each had a purpose set out before them and gave each other encouragement instead of questioning whose call was the better one.
Fast-forward to today and we still have woman called to do mighty things for the Lord. Each of us have a different set of talents and capabilities that enable us to fulfill our purposes.
However, we are so much more apt to comparing ourselves to others than in the days of old.
Our standard becomes how we are compare to other women with the same calling as us. If we don’t measure up in our own minds to what we think others expect of us, then we become failures. Failures because we don’t have enough followers, subscribers, or likes on Facebook. Failures because we aren’t as successful, or beautiful, or as popular.
The danger of this type of thinking is we get caught up in ourselves instead of Him. Our call becomes a competition and our effectiveness is watered down to nothing more than a selfish swamp.
How Can We Avoid the Comparison Trap?
We have all been in this place I speak of. It is our sinful nature to over-analyze and compare ourselves to others. If there were no such thing then the term “Keeping up with the Joneses” wouldn’t be such a popular saying. But if we are going to be honest in this assessment of ourselves then we have to look at the driving forces behind comparison. The contributing factors are things like jealousy, covetousness, and selfishness. None of these are healthy attributes and are in fact, detrimental to our spiritual walks.
So what do we do to change this about ourselves?
God’s word says that we are to pay special attention to our own walk and the work that is set out before us. If we keep our eyes focused on Him, we won’t need to glance to our right or our left.
“Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else. For we are each responsible for our own conduct.”
The Struggle Is Real
If it is becoming a struggle the best thing you can do is confess it and ask God to rid you of it. God is faithful in removing these things from us, all we need to do is ask Him to remove the temptation. You may have to turn things off for a bit till you can be strengthened enough to continue without feeling tempted to compare.
“But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don’t cover up the truth with boasting and lying. For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic. For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition there you will find disorder and evil of every kind.”
Be encouraged in knowing that Mary and Elizabeth both experienced miracles and each had their own path to follow. One was no better than the other in the Lord’s eyes. Let us all learn a lesson from them on how to embrace each other in the work He has predestined us for.
Much love to you,