This message has been burning a hole in me for awhile and I think I can be articulate enough to explain. I’m realizing more and more that there is a cancer in humans that grows and spreads until it has killed your identity, your future, your dreams, and your character. That cancer is called comparison. Yes, on the surface it looks innocent. Comparison can sound like “If only I could just…” or “I wish I had…” or “Look at how she can…” It can masquerade as wishing, but can quickly turn deadly if left unchecked.
I know, I know. This seems a little dramatic. But I have seen the destruction that comparing can do because it almost killed me! When I was growing up, it always seemed that everyone was smarter, prettier, had more friends, more talent, more of everything! Envy is normally the weakness of a FOUR but it manifested in me as a TWO when I would try to prove that was valuable by overly helping. I would see my deficiencies and then serve and give to someone so that they could see how worthy of love I was even though I didn’t feel valuable to that person. I wouldn’t feel as smart as someone else, but if another classmate asked me to cheat and give them the answers, then I would definitely “help” them. I just couldn’t say no. I thought that they thought I was smart since they asked me for the answers. All of this comparison and an unhealthy habit of serving led to great devastation. At 38 years old, I deeply hated myself! I hated that people used me and that I couldn’t have boundaries to say “no.” I hated that I was such a people-pleaser, but didn’t find myself valuable at all to anyone. I didn’t see my strengths of a TWO as anything I or anyone wanted to possess because I had greatly misused those strengths. I saw the strengths in others and saw my ability to serve and love others as huge, glaring weaknesses.
How could one get to this point of intense hatred for what God had made? The cancer of comparison had been birthed in me at a young age. The more that I compared, the more the cancer grew and took over the healthy cells of gifts, talents and personality that God had created in me. Can you envision that picture? Comparison eating more and more healthy cells as I chose to agree and believe that what I had wasn’t as valuable as someone else. Then I looked at myself and hated everything about me. In reality, I just couldn’t see anything left of the treasure that God had instilled in me!
When we compare our personality to someone else’s, we are saying that we don’t know and value the way God made us. When we compare our possessions to what someone else owns, we are saying that we don’t value the way and what God has provided. When we compare our talents to someone else’s, then we are saying that we don’t appreciate the talents that God has instilled in us to share with the world. Essentially we are telling God that He made a mistake. As much as we could think that God made a mistake, I don’t think many of us could verbally say to God, “God I don’t like what you gave me and how you made me! You made a big mistake!” Comparison makes us doubt God and doubt ourselves.
The Bible speaks about this very clearly in 1 Corinthians 12:1-31. These passages refer to the body of Christ as an actual body. There are hands, ears, eyes, feet, etc. Why in the world would an eye that is meant to see the world and send the images to the brain to process want to be used to walk on the ground? That sound preposterous! But we humans do that very thing all of the time! One body part is not more important than any other. In fact, the author of Corinthians even states that God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are all different but not one is better or more important than another. And that same unique yet equal trinity distributes different gifts and ministries to every believer. The last verse in chapter 12 gives an amazing promise when we choose to say no to comparison. “But you should all constantly boil over with passion in seeking the higher gifts. And now I will show you a superior way to live that is BEYOND COMPARISON” (1 Corinthians 12:31, TPT).
Can you imagine a life beyond comparison? It seems like it would take a miracle to stop comparing and competing. And a miracle is exactly what God can do! Colossians 3:10 says, “For you have acquired new creation life which is continually being renewed into the likeness of the One who created you; giving you the full revelation of God” (Colossians, 3:10, TPT). Identity and discovering that likeness is the key to breaking free from the comparison cancer. When we can say that God has made us in His image and we know fully well that we were beautifully and wonderfully made (Psalms 139:14) and that we are grateful for that identity, then we can start detecting when we are longing to be something else. When we desire and seek to get to know who God created, we will be filled with such awe and wonder that there will be no place for envy. I encourage you to go here to read Psalms 139 from The Passion Translation. He knows all about us so why wouldn’t we go to the Author, the Creator of our identity to discover the “marvelously breathtaking” (Psalms 139: 14, TPT) human being that we all are?
What is the next step after discovery? Bringing everything that you possess – your talents, gifts, personality, and identity – and laying it all out at the table. Think of them as weapons that you possess.. When we compare our weapon to someone else’s weapon we shamefully hide it away thinking that it’s not good enough. If you hide your weapon, then no one knows your value and then can’t utilize what you have. More importantly, God can’t use your weapon to expand His Kingdom. Or sometimes we pridefully flaunt our weapon over our fellow brothers and sisters to make ourselves feel better. Instead of fighting WITH and FOR our brothers and sisters, we are fighting AGAINST them. Either hiding or flaunting our weapons is an awful misuse of the tools that God has given us. However, if we know and value our identities then we can display what we have to use and say, “I have an incredible ability to serve others. What has God given you?” There’s an excitement to be used by our Creator and to join forces with other completely different creations. Excitement sounds much more like the character of God than envy.
In fact, all of the enneagram types together more fully describe the character of God! In creating us, God gave each of us a GRAM of Himself. In Marilyn Vancil’s book “Self to Lose – Self to Find” she states that the enneagram types each accurately show a facet of God’s character.
ONE: Goodness and Rightness
TWO: Love and Nurture
THREE: Hope and Radiance
FOUR: Depth and Creativity
FIVE: Wisdom and Truth
SIX: Faithfulness and Courage
SEVEN: Joy and Abundance
EIGHT: Strength and Protection
NINE: Peace and Oneness
As we grow into the likeness of God by operating in our strengths, God’s light will shine through us, and then we can reflect that attribute. Furthermore, as we grow and pull on the strengths of other enneagram types, we can reflect more than just our dominant attributes.
I LOVE this thought! I love that I can come to the table and say “I show God’s love and nurturing nature. How can I be of service?” Then a NINE can say “I need you to show me how to love in this situation. I show God’s peace and oneness.” An EIGHT can say “Oooooo…I need peace in this situation. I bring God’s strength and protection.” And so forth, until His body is fully utilized to expand His Kingdom! Without self-discovery of identity, then we operate out of lack and with comparison running our thoughts and actions. Comparison also destroys important communication between the members of the body of Christ. The concept can also cross religious barriers because words like envy, comparison, gratefulness, and self-discovery transcend all of humanity, not just Christian believers.
So let’s break the cycle! Decide today to:
1. Discover your God-given identity and write it down
2. Communicate to friends your identity and listen to theirs
3. Say no to comparing and envious thoughts
4. Practice gratefulness and thank God for the talents, gifts and personality that He gave you and thank others who are doing the same
I’m sure there are more layers to peel back from this concept, but this is a great place for all of us to start! Leave comments below to share how either choosing envy or gratefulness has impacted your life.
START ON THE ROAD OF SELF-DISCOVERY HERE