Comparisons: A Waste of Time

August 26, 2019 | Fr. Claude Lombardo, MC

There is a weird kind of “sport” that every now and then we are tempted to practice, which consists of comparing ourselves with others, either in human matters or spiritual ones.

We may have experienced that often this is fruitless. Above all, this attitude usually is rooted either in insecurity or in pride. It is logical that from this mental action nothing good can come.

The result of comparisons is almost always bitter. If we lose, realizing that our friend or family member or coworker is better than us, we fall into discouragement, and if we win, thinking that we are superior, we have fallen into pride. Why start a process from which we cannot get anything good?

The words of Jesus in John 21:20-22 give us some light for our reflection. We read there that “Peter turned and saw the disciple following whom Jesus loved, the one who had also reclined upon his chest during the supper and had said, ‘Master, who is the one who will betray you?’ When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, ‘Lord, what about him?’ Jesus said to him, ‘What if I want him to remain until I come? What concern is it of yours? You follow me.’”

Here we have the answer of the Lord when we start thinking too much about others. What concern is it to you? We have to take care of our own personal relationship with God. Know ourselves, and know Him. And that’s it! Do not waste your time in comparisons, even for holiness.

There are some cases, however, in which it could be useful to observe others. If we contemplate the lives of saints, for example, and the comparison with them encourages us to grow in virtue and to be more generous, then we know that we are following an inspiration of the Holy Spirit.  Same thing when we notice, almost without looking for it, that we have more spiritual gifts than another person. If we feel gratitude for the things what we have, that also would be a sign of the presence of God. The general rule is to pay attention to the fruits, to what we feel after comparing ourselves with others. Try to find out from what spirit comes the movement of your heart, and only follow it when you can see that comes from the Lord.

Avoid useless comparisons and competitions and concentrate your strength on following the Lord. What concern is it of yours? You follow me.