One of these things is not like the others. One of these things just doesn’t belong. If you have ever paid a visit to Sesame Street, you’ve heard that song. It’s a catchy little jingle. So catchy in fact that I still recall it to this day. I imagine that if you’ve ever heard it, you do to. As a matter of fact, it’s probably playing in your head right now.
Back in the day when Oscar, Grover, and the gang sang about differences, they did so to help children learn to compare similar things. And, as we sang along, we learned that one bowl was bigger than the other three. A triangle was different than a square. Blue was not green. So on and so forth. We learned to compare.
In some ways, comparison can be a good thing. We compare products before we purchase them to determine the best deal. We read reviews and take test drives before we buy a new car. We check out the blogs and the online reports before we pick up a new computer. We compare neighborhoods before we buy a new home, and we visit colleges with our kids before we send them off to campus. Comparisons can be a good thing.
But with that said, comparisons aren’t always good. As a matter of fact, there are times when they can be downright unhealthy. We see this when our young girls start comparing themselves to the idealized women of movies and magazines. We see it when our young athletes start taking shortcuts and put themselves at risk because they are comparing themselves to mature, world class athletes. We see it when we start looking around at everyone else and what they have and become dissatisfied with our own lots in life. And, we see it when we start comparing ourselves with others in a way that devalues who we are.
It’s easy for us to let comparisons rob our sense of worth. And sadly, this happens to us more than we like to admit. We look at supermom and all she does for her kids and we feel like complete parental failures. We see that guy at the gym and determine we’ll never be anything more than a slightly more attractive version of Jabba the Hut. We visit with friends and hear of their trips and see their new cars and we sink into despair because we’re such losers.
The destructive power of comparisons gone too far impact our ministries too. I’ll never be as good a teacher as that guy is. I can never sing like her. My devotion life is nowhere near theirs. I’m such a failure. Sound familiar? Even pastors and ministry leaders get in on the action. I can’t preach like that guy. My church will never be as good as their church. I’ll never be as smart or as talented as that person is. I could never write or get published like they did.
We’re not the first people to do this. In the book of Numbers, the children of Israel sent spies into the land God had promised them to check it out. When the came back, they said,
“And there we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak, who come from the Nephilim), and we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them” (Numbers 13:33, ESV).
In other words, they said, “They are so great and we are tiny little bugs. We’re nothing compared to them.”
Now, here’s the problem with their assessment. All they saw were people bigger and more capable than themselves. They had forgotten who they were. More importantly, they had forgotten whose they were. The belonged to God. He had created them and set them apart as His people. He had delivered them from bondage in Egypt. He had provided for them every step of the way during the exodus. And, He had promised to be with them as they claimed the land He had promised them. Simply stated, they had taken God out of the equation.
When you and I look around at everyone else and we take God out of the equation, we too will see ourselves as grasshoppers. Like the Israelites, we forget that God created us and set us apart as His people. We forget that He has delivered us from the bondage of sin (Romans 6:6-7). We forget that He has given us everything we need in Christ along the way (Ephesians 1:3). And, we forget that He has promised to be with us until He fulfills His promise to us (Philippians 1:6).
In Christ, you are not a grasshopper. You’re not some tiny insignificant bug less valuable or less cherished than someone else. You’re not inferior to someone who is bigger or more successful. You’re not worth less because you have less. So, quit with the unhealthy comparisons already. It’s fine to look around and let others inspire or help motivate you to grow or improve in some way. But, stop letting your comparisons to others rob you of the worth you have in Christ.
Perhaps you’re not like the others and maybe you feel like you just don’t belong. That’s okay. So, you’re not as big or as talented or as popular. Forbes doesn’t know your name and you’re not going to make the cover of Sports Illustrated. You won’t be leading any seminars on managing an unruly preschooler and the Ivy League isn’t calling begging your kids to come. Your church isn’t the most prominent in your state or your city…or your street for that matter. Your house is small, your car is old, and you weigh more than you did in high school. It doesn’t make you a grasshopper. It doesn’t mean you lack worth or value in God’s eyes. It doesn’t mean you’re a failure. The Scripture is filled with ordinary people who are loved and used by an extraordinary God. Let Him count you among that group.