The bible is full of numbers. I believe God really likes numbers—he even named a book in the Bible after them. I’ve always liked numbers too. I’ve been playing with them since I was four. It began with playing cribbage with my uncle, then baseball cards and statistics, multiplication tables, algebra, pursuing an accounting degree in college, and now I work in finance. The importance of numbers is woven throughout my life.
I remember in second grade, I learned my “times tables” quickly and earned fifty cents. It doesn’t seem like much now, but back then I felt I had been rewarded for accomplishing something. I was one of only two in my class to accomplish the feat, and I was proud of myself.
It’s a great feeling when you’re seven, but this pride in my accomplishments and comparison with others became a struggle in my life. It’s an ego issue that I need to be aware of and often fight against.
It seems somewhere in my life my love of numbers became a vanity thing. I believe it might have started in that second grade class when I compared myself to everyone in my class and I felt superior to them. Eventually I felt the sting of being on the losing side of the numbers game. Fast forward to ninth grade history class (clearly no numbers involved in this subject) and I got a D-minus on an exam. The results were posted for everyone to see. I felt inferior, stupid and ashamed; this time being one of the last in my class.
But that was just a blip on the screen for this numbers game I was playing. Comparing my numbers with my friends’ numbers to see how I was doing continued throughout high school with my student ranking, how many points I was scoring per game in basketball (or not scoring), how many home runs I hit versus others on my team, my SAT scores . . . there was no stopping it and no one to stop it. I felt like I was on the right side of the numbers game.
Other blips came up in college and as I started working. A earned a whopping 1.78 GPA my first semester of freshman year. Ouch. In my first job as a financial advisor associate at the bank, every week our division office would send out a list of the top five producers (who sold the most in investments) for the previous week so that we all could see who was on top. I longed to be on the top of the list and be recognized.
The continual ranking and comparison was having a negative impact upon my life. If I am being honest, I have to say comparison still does sometimes get the best of me.
I have started a few practices in my life to stop this superior/inferior comparison game:
- Know the truth that I am loved by God without having to do anything. “So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him” (1 John 4:16).
- Seek God above all else. “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). This means focusing on things above not things below. “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth” (Colossians 3:2).
- Know God more by praying more and being quiet in his presence.
“…pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth” (Psalm 46:10).
- Know I was made by Him for a specific purpose. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).
- Limit/eliminate time on social media where a lot of my comparison occurs.
All of this leads me to the only number that truly counts. Number 1. God is to be number one in my life. He is to be primary, preeminent, the top, and I when recognize God’s proper place, the comparison subsides and I am able to become more and more aware of how much I am loved by Him. My Heavenly Father does not care about comparisons.
How can we start today anew by eliminating comparison in our life, to live the life we were created to live in Christ?