Welcome to the world of Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, and Snapchat. Never has there been more emphasis on image than there is today. Never has there been more sharing of the details of our day-to-day lives. Never have there been more illusions, deception, and unfulfilled desires.

This is because the world is still experiencing symptoms of what happened in Eden. We’re still pursuing an elusive idea of happiness, and we feel that what we see on Instagram or Pinterest gives us a snapshot of that happiness. But if you want to get a real picture of something, you need to see multiple photographs.

Sin creates an illusion. Adam and Eve’s first sin in Genesis 3:5 was the first photoshopping of the world; the first filter placed over the truth. The shrewd serpent convinced them they would see the world as God saw the world; that they would know good and evil. And when they ate the fruit, their view of the world did change. For when sin enters the picture, innocence gives way to illusion. We start chasing what isn’t there and look at life in all the wrong ways.

When we start pursuing this illusion, we turn away from God. Issues of comparison, contentment, and compromise start entering the picture. When we compare ourselves to others, we become discontented with ourselves, and we start to compromise in order to become the illusion we’re chasing.

The problem with comparison is that we begin to want what someone else has, like Cain did in Genesis 4. We spend so long trying to measure up, becoming consumed with being in someone else’s world, that we’ll do anything to find that happiness, compromising our values and beliefs in the process. In the end Cain became so consumed with comparing himself to his brother that he murdered him. Comparison can be a slippery slope to start down, but we aren’t alone in dealing with the temptation.

Romans 8:12-13 says that we have the Holy Spirit in us when we accept what Jesus did on the cross for us. The Spirit gives us the power to live a different way. Instead of always looking for the next thing, we need to be still and give the Spirit a chance to form the character in us that won’t give in to the curse of comparison. We’ll be able to have this uncommon response:

  1. Stop comparing. Be you! Like who God made you to be. You don’t have to like the you that sin has twisted and put a filter on, but you can be restored to the person God made you to be.
  2. Where comparison ends, contentment begins. You can’t faithfully follow Jesus if you’re comparing yourself to someone else. Comparison invites one of two responses: superiority or inferiority. Neither has a place in God’s Kingdom.
  3. The antidote to comparison is community. This is real life, not a show. You can’t put a filter on your face when you’re face-to-face with someone. We find freedom from comparison in real community, in relationships where you can’t filter yourself. Start working on your heart more than your face. The issues of life flow out of the heart. If you get your heart right, you’ll be a lovely person. And we can’t get rid of the bad stuff by running into isolation. So don’t run from the community where God has placed you.

Watch the entire sermon here.