The Snare of Compare

2012 The Gospel Coalition Women’s Conference

In this 47-minute session from the 2012 TGC Women’s Conference, Carolyn Mahaney encourages women to run from comparison and toward Christ. Carolyn Mahaney is the author of Feminine Appeal and co-author with her daughters of Girl Talk, True Beauty, and Shopping for Time. She also blogs about biblical womanhood at  

John 21:18-22 (ESV)

18 Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.”19(This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”

Jesus and the Beloved Apostle

20Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them, the one who also had leaned back against him during the supper and had said, “Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?”21When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?”22Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!”

Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Describe one thing in your life that you wish was different—relationships, infertility, appearance, money, work, etc. How do you respond when others get that thing, or appear to have it better?
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When are you most tempted to look away from Jesus and compare your life to someone else (v. 21)? In what ways has comparison affected your joy and gratitude? Your relationship with God?
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Carolyn described a time when she wanted pity from her husband, but he exhorted her with truth instead. Who is that person in your life? How does his or her biblical counsel encourage you?
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In what ways do you glorify God in unwanted or painful realities (v. 19)? How do you think the presence of those things has strengthened your faith and made you more like Christ?
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Carolyn shared four ways to avoid the snare of compare:
  • Preach the gospel to yourself every day.
  • Study Scripture every day. 
  • Gather for corporate worship and the preaching of God’s Word.
  • Build strong friendships in the local church.  

What are some other practical ways you can stay focused on Christ day daily?
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Lord, we are prone to wander. Keep our eyes fixed on you that we might avoid comparison and follow you with joy and thanksgiving.

To learn more about The Gospel Coalition Women’s Conference and how you can attend the next event, click here.