The day they had all been waiting for had finally arrived. Anticipation filled the air. The Cub Scouts gathered at the front of the room, clutching the little wooden sailboats they had so carefully painted and decorated in preparation for the big event – the annual Rain Gutter Regatta.
The races began, with the boys earnestly puffing wind into the sails of their vessels as they floated down two water-filled rain gutters running parallel with each other across the room. As the contest proceeded, a curious phenomenon began to emerge. Almost without exception, each boy would get about halfway through the course, then momentarily stop blowing his boat and turn his head to see how far his opponent had advanced. The closer the competition became, the more they would stop to compare positions. Despite their parents’ exhortations to stay focused on the task at hand, they seemed to have an irresistible urge to repeatedly evaluate their progress according to that of their rivals.
Kids aren’t the only ones guilty of comparing themselves to others. We adults can also fall into that trap. It’s there in that bit of pride we feel when our child scores more points in the game than anyone else. It’s lurking in the twinge of envy that comes when we see our neighbor, who seems to have it all, drive down the street in her brand new car. We often don’t even realize what we’re doing.
Measuring our success by comparing ourselves to others can even spill over into church life. How tempting it is to pause in the midst of our activities and service to the Lord to turn our heads to see what the church down the street is doing. Are they gaining ground on us? What are they doing differently? Maybe we should consider changing our strategy so we won’t fall behind. In 2 Corinthians 10:12, Paul, in referring to some of the Christians at Corinth, writes, “they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves….” He admonishes that such behavior is unwise and refuses to respond in kind.
The problem is that using a flawed standard yields faulty results. To receive an accurate measure of success in life, we must use God’s yardstick of excellence rather than compare ourselves to the imperfect people around us. Jesus Christ is the sinless prototype by which we should pattern our lives.
So let’s stay in the race by keeping our eyes on Him and resisting the temptation to compare our progress with those around us. Only then will we reach the finish line to be crowned as a winner.’