Conversation has a way of revealing the innermost workings of our hearts. I don’t mean short-term greetings, the ‘how-are-you-doing’ as two people rush past one another, or the thirty-second blurb left on a voice message. Most of us can project the image by which we wish others to view us in those ‘quickie’ communiqués. However, when a conversation delves into how we feel, think, dream, or long, then the true heart shows up.
I remember a day when I was talking with a young, well-dressed, handsomely-groomed woman who was lamenting certain aspects of her life. Her external image was almost flawless. As she spoke, she revealed that she was unhappy with her material and social status. She consistently compared her possessions to those of several of her friends. In her estimation, she had not gotten her fair share. A myriad of questions filled her thoughts and words. I was aware that she was not rehearsing the questions for the first time, because she promptly followed each question with her interpretation and answer, indicating that she had previously invested a great deal of time considering her opinions.
After I departed from her, I re-thought our conversation. I also reflected upon dialogs with other persons in which I had noted a similar vein. The discourse of comparison is a common malady of life. It flows from a heart that longs for something yet not granted or gained. It believes that someone else has the lion’s share of the luck. Sister ‘so-and-so’ has more time and money than anyone needs. Brother ‘born-with-a-golden-spoon-in-his-mouth’ never had to rough it like the other guys. Neighbor ‘man with a Midas touch’ has money to burn. These musings and others like them reveal a heart condition.
Whereas longings may be legitimate, comparisons can be dangerous. All of us dream and desire. Everyone longs to be loved unconditionally, treated with dignity, and rewarded with prosperity. However, our portion is never enhanced because another’s portion has been diminished. We are not made legitimate by viewing another as illegitimate. We cannot build our reputation from the ruined foundation of our neighbor’s good name.
To engage in the discourse of comparison reveals an unsatisfied longing that has been fueled by erroneous assumptions. Perhaps the mind has entertained a measure of jealousy or has feasted upon covetousness. Maybe a wounded self-image seeks to extrapolate assurance that it can win some competition even if only within the mind. Whatever the cause, comparison is filled with pitfalls.
Scripture teaches that the issues of life flow out of our heart. If our heart is filled with some form of ill will, these issues or characteristics not only flow out, but they also damage our heart’s container. Comparison is counter-productive. It has no power to produce a change in our status, but it is detrimental to our emotional and spiritual health.
Therefore, scripture also instructs us to diligently guard our heart. Rejoicing for the good favor of our neighbor, hoping for the prosperity of a friend, and even praying for blessings for others are sure ways to fill the heart with life-giving attributes while, at the same time, avoiding the pitfalls of comparison.