ep. 94 comparison

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ep. 94 | Comparison with Abigail Dodds

On today’s episode of the Journeywomen podcast, we’re continuing our ten-part series living in light of redemption. Today I’m chatting with Abigail Dodds about comparison and I’m willing to bet her take on it will leave you with a lot to chew on.

So you’ll know her a little better, Abigail Dodds is a wife, mother of five, and graduate student at Bethlehem College and Seminary. She’s a regular contributor to Desiring God and the author of (A)Typical Woman: Free, Whole, and Called in Christ (2019). You can find her on Twitter, Instagram, or her blog.

  1. Can you tell us a little about who you are and what you do?

  2. We hear Teddy Roosevelt's proverb, "Comparison is the thief of joy,” pretty frequently in Christian circles. Do you agree with that statement? Why not?

  3. Why are we prone to comparison? 

  4. Why is it often deemed dangerous, unhelpful, or sinful? Is the practice of comparison all bad?

  5. How does comparison show us our need for the gospel?

  6. Could comparison potentially serve us well in our walk with the Lord? Is there a healthy way to compare ourselves to one another? If so, what's the distinction between healthy and unhealthy comparison?

  7. What are some things we ought to beware of, or personal checks/balances that might help us gauge our hearts? 

  8. Is it possible to compare ourselves to one another while being content?

  9. I often find myself struggling with envy, self-pity, or judgment when I compare myself to others. What is the proper response when we find ourselves struggling with envy, jealousy, or greed?

  10. How does the gospel free us to fight against envy, covetousness, and greed and empower us to live in light of redemption?

THREE QUESTIONS I ASK EVERY SECOND-TIME GUEST

  1. What 3 resources would you recommend for someone who wants to grow in this area?

  2. What is one piece of advice you'd offer to your 25-year-old self?

  3. What is one thing you're excited about or looking forward to in your own journey?

NOTEWORTHY QUOTES

“As Christians we need to stop and think about what we mean by saying ,’Comparison is the thief of joy.’” 

“If someone is feeling bad about themselves or comparing themselves to others and we tell them, ‘comparison is the thief of joy, just stop comparing yourself to others and that’s the solution.’ Sometimes what accompanies that statement is ‘you’re perfect just the way you are.’ Soothing yourself with ‘you’re great just the way you are’ is the wrong way to fill ourselves up. It won’t really work in the end.” 

“We are prone to comparison because as human beings it is how we acquaint ourselves with the world around us. We can’t understand what we are in relation to God or others without comparison.” 

“Without comparing and contrasting, we lose touch with reality. Without comparing and contrasting, we can’t properly acquaint ourselves with the world God has made. Comparing and contrasting is how we come to learn that we aren’t God.” 

“Be careful to hear what people are saying. Listen for what people are actually getting at when talking about comparison.” 

“There is a way of measuring that is sinful competition where we are trying to be better than other people.” 

“The flip side of boasting in ourselves is despairing. We pity ourselves and villainize who happens to be doing more than us.”

“Pride and envy are the two ways that comparison can work itself out. “ 

“Comparison is how we acquaint ourselves not just with the law giver but with the law itself. It shows us how we fall short. It is how we show that we can’t measure up to God’s standards. The realization that we can’t measure up is the pathway that leads to the green pastures of grace.” 

“If you think of comparison like a pathway, it can lead you to pride and envy but it can also lead you to something else, godly imitation.” 

“We are commanded in the Scripture multiple times to imitate those who are imitating Christ. You cannot imitate someone that you haven’t noticed how you’re doing in light of how they are doing.” 

“Imitate principles, not methods.” 

“We need to be familiar with what our own sinful bent is. How we combat that will look different than someone else. 

“If you’ve noticed you’re sinning, repent. Then, make the right ‘first’ comparison. The ‘first’ comparison we want to make is taking stock of ourselves in light of God. Once we are oriented properly, we are able to move forward to proper comparison on a horizontal level that leads us to godly imitation of mature Christians around us.” 

“The gospel is where we find grace.” 

“Grace is power, not just pardon .” - John Piper 

“Saving grace is also sanctifying grace.” 

“One small step toward sanctification is to curb our speech. “


RESOURCES

Word search on Blue Letter Bible (compare, envy, bitteress, imitate)

The Chronicles of Narnia

Killjoys Seven Deadly Sins Small Talks

What to do with Unmet Expectations episode

ADVICE YOU’D GIVE 25-YEAR-OLD ABIGAIL

Don’t be afraid of submission. There are no perfect human authorities.

SCRIPTURE REFERENCES

Psalm 40

Psalm 89:6 

Isaiah 40

2 Corinthians 3

1 Corinthians 11:1

Hebrews 4:13

CONNECT WITH ABIGAIL


DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  1. Name some ways you’ve seen comparison lead to pride or envy in everyday life.

  2. How can you encourage a friend in this area with the hope of the gospel? 

  3. How can comparison lead us to God?

  4. What would it look like to “imitate principles, not methods?”

  5. If you find you are comparing yourself to others, how can you rightly orient your mind?

  6. What are you going to do or implement as a result of what you’ve learned this week?

SCRIPTURE MEMORY

“Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” 2 Corinthians 3:4-6


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