One of a golfer’s enduring bad habits and character flaws is to look in a fellow competitor’s bag to take a peek at their club selection. Fatal not just to his psyche, looking has an insidious, corrosive and subtle effect on his confidence. This comparing act expresses to the onlooker he does not know his game well enough to decide on his own. But peeking possesses a powerful pull.
Mark Twain said, “Golf is a good walk spoiled” and I’m convinced spoilage seeks, finds and embraces its myriad outlets. My doubts arise from what I see, not what hides from me.
Doesn’t comparison create for the faithful a logic trap? Doesn’t life offer us means aplenty to compare our self with the “whats” and “whos” and thus fall? Yes and yes.
Our eloquent Lord tells the parable about two men “who went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee, the other a tax collector.” I hope you don’t need Paul Harvey here. The Pharisee falls into the comparison trap. “God, I thank you that I am not like other men ... or even as this tax collector.” His self-righteousness unveils a false humility.
Comparison’s great accomplice is distance, the distance between me and you, enabling me to separate myself from you and say, “I would never do what you did if I were in your shoes.” And once thought and spoken, I have fallen undeniably into the trap.
The parable reveals the flip side of comparison. When we wish we were like someone else or pretend to be something we are not, denied to God is a gratitude for the very gifts he gives to us. Dishonesty is such a poor conductor of thankfulness. The tax collector prayed, “God, be merciful to me a sinner!” Jesus tells us, “This man went down to his house justified” (excerpts from Luke 18:9-14, NKJV). Notice the tax collector did not pray “let me be like the Pharisee.”
And doesn’t comparison place us in a posture of assuming? It can assume others want to be like us. Worse than self-righteousness, it becomes self-serving righteousness, a disintegration of faith toward loving an idea more than the person. Isn’t this self-righteousness’ and comparison’s mistake?
Speaking on the subject of bioethics and cloning, political columnist Charles Krauthammer said, “And I think the assumption that all that people who suffer from disabilities want is a cure at all costs is a misreading of their own humanity.”
Being a good steward of my time, talents, treasure, truth and relationships challenges my devotional life and my equal bent toward self-serving righteousness. How could I ever wrestle with such a challenge except to be silent before God, to empty myself of that will opposing him? And doing so, hear Christ’s moans from the cross.
And so hearing, doesn’t comparison become trivial?
And just as emotions pass and fade in time, so to should my comparing.
Who among us has the power to compare?
“Those who have ears to hear, let them hear” (Matthew 11:15, NKJV).
Deck Cheatham has been a golf professional for more than 40 years. He lives with his family in Dalton. Write to him at email@example.com.