Comparison and Competition usually plays havoc with our self-worth, and divides even the closest of relationships. Yet we fall prey to the temptation, hoping maybe we’ll walk away satisfied with ourselves, or situations. Resisting the process takes effort, because the urge to compare are simply everywhere—social media—commercials on television—and with the people we associate with. One prime example of what comparing looks like is recorded in the Bible with the development of Jacob’s family in Genesis.
If ever there was a set-up for comparing and competition it was in this family dynamic. Jacob had two wives Rachel and Leah, who were also sisters (not to mention the personal servants they involved). In essence, as dysfunctional as it might’ve been, the offspring from Jacob and these women did in fact build the house of Israel. There isn’t much recorded about the two servants, other than being pawned to Jacob, and the children they bore to him, but it displays the nature of the relationship between the sisters. From the moment Jacob laid his eyes on Rachel, he was smitten. Funnily enough, Rachel was a shepherdess—that Jacob was so taken with her is interesting since his brother, Esau, was the outdoorsy type, and he’d been one to keep to the tents at home. Other than the fact that Rachel was easy on the eyes—beautiful in form and face, no other characteristics are mentioned to account for his “love at first sight” emotion. Unlike Rachel, Leah has weak eyes.
When I looked the transliteration of weak it used words like delicate, soft, and timid. Leah could’ve been shy, but what I picture is myself in the third grade when I squinted at the chalkboard. Apparently, I needed glasses. When I got them, it earned me that unpleasant nickname “Four-eyes”, and I began wishing I didn’t need them, but they did provide me clear vision to notice other things I admired in other girls, and then wished for in myself. Pardon my tongue-in-cheek confession.
Beauty is something most girls envy about another, and Leah wasn’t the pretty one. Jacob didn’t love her, which is why I’ve always felt rather sorry for her. Interestingly, however, when you read Rachel and Leah’s stories, it shows that they were both susceptible to the pitfall of focusing on their defects while magnifying the advantage of the other—Leah because of Jacob’s love for Rachel, and Rachel because of Leah’s ability to give Jacob sons.
I think it shows that no matter what another person or their life may look like, neither are perfect, or present the whole picture. In many cases, those individuals may be dealing with things we’re not aware of, and if we knew, we’d be less inclined to envy them.
Besides the gospels, Paul wrote much of what we now call the New Testament. His walk with Christ was one that could be esteemed, but his life was far from easy. Looking not around, but ahead, this is what he wrote:
2 Cor. 4:17 For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, 18 while we look not at the things which are seen; but at the things which are not seen for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal. NASB
The temptation to compare ourselves or our circumstances will likely continue to surface for most of us once in a while. Fortunately, we who look to Christ have His grace to help us redirect our focus on what lies ahead, knowing there is simply no comparison for what awaits.