I learned about comparing myself to others in my “Come, Follow Me” studies this week. Paul wrote to the Saints in Corinth: “For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise” (2 Corinthians 10:12).
It appears that the Corinthian Saints were attempting to see if they were better or worse than their neighbors when they were “measuring themselves by themselves.” When we look at each other through the lens of comparison, we make the mistake of judging other people by their outward appearance. Elder Marvin J. Ashton (1915-94) gave the following counsel about this tendency to judge others.
We also tend to evaluate others on the basis of physical, outward appearance: their ‘good looks,’ their social status, their family pedigrees, their degrees, or their economic situations….
When the Lord measures an individual, He does not take a tape measure around the person’s head to determine his mental capacity, nor his chest to determine his manliness, but He measures the heart as an indicator of the person’s capacity and potential to bless others (“The Measure of Our Hearts,” Ensign, Nov. 1988, 15).
When we compare ourselves to another, we usually compare our worst to the best of the other person, and we never measure up. We are all guilty of staging our photographs in such a way that the clutter of our homes, yards, or lives does not show in the background. The only thing that shows in our Facebook picture is the beautiful item that we created – not the mess in the background.
We can make ourselves truly miserable by continually comparing ourselves with other people. Some people are bubbly, energetic, and talkative. If we do not have such a personality and try to be like them, we will wear ourselves out. What we need to do is to look for the good within ourselves and build on our personal strengths instead of criticizing the other person or pretending to be something that we are not.
The Apostle Paul mentioned in the same verse of scripture that we “compare ourselves with some that commend themselves” and such people are “not wise.” President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, then of the First Presidency, taught that self-commendation is related to pride.
At its core, pride is a sin of comparison, for though it usually begins with ‘Look how wonderful I am and what great things I have done,’ it always seems to end with ‘Therefore, I am better than you.’
When our hearts are filled with pride, we commit a grave sin, for we violate the two great commandments [see Matthew 22:36-40]. Instead of worshipping God and loving our neighbor, we reveal the real object of our worship and love – the image we see in the mirror.
Pride is the great sin of self-elevation….
This sin has many faces. It leads some to revel in their own perceived self-worth, accomplishments, talents, wealth, or position. They count these blessings as evidence of being ‘chosen,’ ‘superior,’ or ‘more righteous’ than others. This is the sin of ‘Thank God I am more special than you.’ At its core is the desire to be admired or envied. It is the sin of self-glorification” (“Pride and the Priesthood,” Ensign, Nov. 2010, 56).
If we desire to compare ourselves to anyone, Paul suggests that we measure ourselves “according to the measure of the rule which God hath distributed to us” (2 Corinthians 10:13). The Prophet Joseph Smith (1805-44) encouraged members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to measure themselves in comparison with God: “Search your hearts, and see if you are like God. I have searched mine, and feel to repent of all my sins” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith , 72).