“Let each one . . . have cause for rejoicing in regard to himself alone, and not in comparison with the other person.”—GAL. 6:4.
SONG 34 Walking in Integrity
1. Why does Jehovah not compare us with others?
JEHOVAH loves variety. This is evident in his amazing creations, including humankind. Each of us is unique. So Jehovah never compares you with others. He examines your heart, your inner person. (1 Sam. 16:7) He also takes into account your strengths, weaknesses, and background. And he does not ask more of you than you can give. We need to imitate Jehovah by seeing ourselves as he does. Then we will have “a sound mind,” thinking neither too much nor too little of ourselves.—Rom. 12:3.
2. Why is it not good to compare ourselves with others?
2 Of course, we may benefit by observing the good example of a faithful brother or sister who has a productive ministry. (Heb. 13:7) We might then see ways in which we can be more effective in our own ministry. (Phil. 3:17) But there is a difference between imitating someone’s good example and using it to assess your value as an individual. Such a comparison could cause you to feel envious, discouraged, or even unworthy. As we learned in the preceding article, to compete with others in the congregation would also be spiritually harmful. So Jehovah lovingly exhorts us: “Let each one examine his own actions, and then he will have cause for rejoicing in regard to himself alone, and not in comparison with the other person.”—Gal. 6:4.
3. What spiritual progress have you made that brings you joy?
3 Jehovah wants you to rejoice in your own spiritual progress. For instance, if you got baptized, you should be thrilled that you have reached that goal! You made the decision to do that on your own. You based it on your love for God. Think about the progress you have made since then. For example, has your love for personal Bible reading and study deepened? Have your prayers become more meaningful and heartfelt? (Ps. 141:2) Have you become more conversational in the preaching work and more effective at using our tools for the ministry? And if you have a family, has Jehovah helped you to become a better husband, wife, or parent? You can feel happy and deeply satisfied about the progress you have made in such areas.
4. What will we consider in this article?
4 We can help others to rejoice in their own spiritual progress. We can also help them to refrain from making comparisons. In this article, we will see how parents can help their children, how marriage mates can help each other, and how elders and others can help their brothers and sisters. Finally, we will consider some Bible principles that can assist us in setting reasonable goals according to our individual abilities and circumstances.
WHAT PARENTS AND MARRIAGE MATES CAN DO
5. According to Ephesians 6:4, what should parents avoid?
5 Parents should be careful not to compare one child with another or to ask more of a child than he or she can give. Unfavorable comparisons and unreasonable demands can exasperate a child. (Read Ephesians 6:4.) A sister named Sachiko* says: “My teachers expected me to do better than my classmates at school. Additionally, my mother wanted me to do well at school so that I would give a good witness to my teacher and my unbelieving father. In fact, she wanted me to get 100 percent on my exams, which I found impossible. Although I left school years ago, at times I still wonder if my best is good enough for Jehovah.”
6. What can parents learn from Psalm 131:1, 2?
6 A valuable lesson for parents is found at Psalm 131:1, 2. (Read.) King David said that he did not “aspire to things too great” or to things that were beyond him. His humility and modesty “calmed and quieted” him. What can parents learn from David’s words? Parents can be humble and modest not only in what they expect of themselves but also in what they expect of their child. Parents can reassure their child by acknowledging his strengths and weaknesses when helping him to set appropriate goals. A sister named Marina recalls: “My mother never compared me with my three siblings or with other children. She taught me that everyone has different gifts and that each of us is precious to Jehovah. Thanks to her, I rarely compare myself with others.”
7-8. How can a husband show honor to his wife?
7 A Christian husband must show honor to his wife. (1 Pet. 3:7) Honor involves giving special attention and respect to others. For example, a husband honors his wife by dignifying her. He does not ask more of her than she can give. And he certainly does not compare her with other women. If he were to do so, what effect might such a comparison have? The non-Witness husband of a sister named Rosa often compares her with other women. His cruel words have done more than undermine Rosa’s self-confidence. She says, “I need constant reassurance that Jehovah values me.” In contrast, a Christian husband assigns honor to his wife. He knows that his doing so affects both his relationship with her and his relationship with Jehovah.*
8 A husband who honors his wife praises her, reassures her of his love, and commends her. (Prov. 31:28) That is how the husband of Katerina, mentioned in the preceding article, has helped her to overcome feelings of low self-worth. As a child, she was belittled by her mother, who often compared her with other girls, including her friends. As a result, Katerina began to measure her worth by comparing herself with others—even after she came into the truth! Her Christian husband, however, has helped her to fight this tendency and to develop a more reasonable view of herself. She states: “He loves me, commends me for the good things I do, and prays for me. He also reminds me of Jehovah’s wonderful qualities and helps me to correct my negative thinking.”
WHAT LOVING ELDERS AND OTHERS CAN DO
9-10. How did caring elders help a sister to overcome her tendency to compare herself unfavorably with others?
9 How can elders help those who have a tendency to compare themselves with others? Consider the experience of a sister named Hanuni, who as a child was rarely commended. She recalls: “I was shy and felt that other kids were better than I was. I began comparing myself with others as far back as I can remember.” Even after she came into the truth, Hanuni still compared herself with others. As a result, she felt of little value in the congregation. Now, though, she serves as a happy pioneer. What helped her to change her outlook?
10 Hanuni says that she was helped by caring elders. They expressed confidence in her and commended her for her faithful example. She writes: “A few times the elders asked me to encourage some sisters who needed help. These assignments made me feel needed. I remember when caring elders thanked me for the encouragement I had given to some younger sisters. Then they read 1 Thessalonians 1:2, 3 to me. How that touched my heart! Thanks largely to those fine shepherds, I now treasure my place in Jehovah’s organization.”
11. How can we help those who are “crushed and lowly in spirit,” as described at Isaiah 57:15?
11 Read Isaiah 57:15. Jehovah cares deeply for those “crushed and lowly in spirit.” All of us, not just the elders, can help to encourage these dear brothers and sisters. One way we can encourage them is by showing a sincere interest in them. Jehovah wants us to convey to them his love for his precious sheep. (Prov. 19:17) We can also help our brothers and sisters by being humble and modest. We do not want to draw attention to ourselves that could result in stirring up envy in others. Instead, we use our abilities and knowledge to encourage one another.—1 Pet. 4:10, 11.
12. Why were lowly ones drawn to Jesus? (See cover picture.)
12 We can learn much about how to treat others by considering how Jesus treated his followers. He was the greatest man who ever lived. Yet, he was “mild-tempered and lowly in heart.” (Matt. 11:28-30) He did not show off his superior intelligence and vast knowledge. He taught by using simple language and appealing illustrations that touched the hearts of lowly ones. (Luke 10:21) Unlike the arrogant religious leaders, Jesus never made others feel that they were of little value to God. (John 6:37) Instead, he dignified the common people.
13. How were Jesus’ kindness and love reflected in the way he dealt with his disciples?
13 Jesus’ kindness and love were reflected in the way he dealt with his disciples. He knew that they had different abilities and circumstances. So they could not all handle the same responsibilities; nor could they be equally productive in the ministry. Yet, he appreciated the whole-souled efforts of each one. Jesus’ understanding attitude is reflected in the parable of the talents. In that illustration, the master assigned each slave work “according to his own ability.” One of the two diligent slaves gained more than the other. But the master commended both with the same words: “Well done, good and faithful slave!”—Matt. 25:14-23.
14. How can we imitate the way Jesus treated others?
14 Jesus is kind and loving in the way he deals with us. He knows that our abilities and circumstances vary, and he is pleased when we do our best. We do well to treat others as Jesus did. Never would we want to make a fellow worshipper feel unworthy or ashamed because he cannot do as much as others can. Instead, let us look for opportunities to commend our brothers and sisters for doing their best to serve Jehovah.
SET REASONABLE GOALS
15-16. How did a sister benefit from setting reasonable goals for herself?
15 Spiritual goals give our life direction and purpose. The key, however, is to set goals according to our abilities and circumstances, not those of others. We do not want to set ourselves up for disappointment and discouragement. (Luke 14:28) Consider the example of a pioneer sister named Midori.
16 Midori’s father, who is not a Witness, humiliated her as a child by comparing her with her siblings and classmates. “I felt worthless,” says Midori. As she grew older, however, Midori gained self-confidence. She says, “I read the Bible every day so that I could have peace in my heart and I could feel that Jehovah loves me.” In addition, she set reasonable goals for herself, and she prayed specifically for help to achieve those goals. As a result, Midori could rejoice in her own spiritual progress.
CONTINUE TO GIVE JEHOVAH YOUR BEST
17. How can we “continue to be made new in [our] dominant mental attitude,” and with what results?
17 Negative feelings and thoughts may not go away overnight. So Jehovah exhorts us: “You should continue to be made new in your dominant mental attitude.” (Eph. 4:23, 24) To do so, of course, we need to pray, study God’s Word, and meditate. Apply yourself to these things, and look to Jehovah for strength. His holy spirit will help you to overcome any tendency to compare yourself with others. Jehovah will also help you to recognize and quickly root out envy or undue pride if these undesirable feelings spring up in your heart.
18. How can you take comfort from the words found at 2 Chronicles 6:29, 30?
18 Read 2 Chronicles 6:29, 30. Jehovah knows our heart. He also knows our struggles—our fight against the spirit of the world and against our own imperfections. As Jehovah sees how hard we are fighting against such negative influences, his love for us grows.
19. How does Jehovah illustrate the way he feels about us?
19 To illustrate how he feels about us, Jehovah uses the bond between a mother and her baby. (Isa. 49:15) Consider the example of a mother named Rachel. She writes: “My daughter Stephanie was born prematurely. When I first saw her, she looked tiny and helpless. But the hospital allowed me to hold her every day during the first month when she was in an incubator. Those tender moments helped us to form a close bond. She is now six years old and is smaller than others her age. Yet, I love her all the more because she fought so hard to live, and she has brought so much joy to my life!” How comforting it is to know that Jehovah feels that type of deep love for us when he sees us fighting to serve him whole-souled!
20. As a dedicated servant of Jehovah, what reason do you have to rejoice?
20 As a servant of Jehovah, you are a unique and valued member of his diverse family. Jehovah did not draw you to himself because you were better than your neighbors. He drew you because he looked into your heart and saw a meek and teachable person whom he could mold. (Ps. 25:9) Be assured that he appreciates it when you do your best to serve him. Your endurance and your faithfulness are evidence of “a fine and good heart.” (Luke 8:15) So continue to give Jehovah your best. Then you will have good reason to rejoice “in regard to [yourself] alone.”
SONG 38 He Will Make You Strong
Jehovah does not compare us with others. Yet, some of us might be inclined to do just that and then to judge ourselves negatively. In this article, we will discuss why it can be harmful to compare ourselves with others. We will also see how we can help family members and those in the congregation to see themselves as Jehovah does.
Some names have been changed.
Although these points are focusing on the husband, many of the principles also apply to the wife.
PICTURE DESCRIPTION: During family worship, the parents show their delight with what each child has made to put into Noah’s ark.
PICTURE DESCRIPTION: A single parent who has a preschooler works out a schedule to auxiliary pioneer, and she is happy to have reached her goal.