The Measuring Stick That’s Never Enough

August 3, 2016  - By Gretchen Saffles

“For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them…Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.”  

Romans 12:3-4, 9-10

The Comparison Stick

We all carry one. That 3 foot, 36 inch measuring stick. It’s a crutch for some. A weapon for others. And then for for others it’s a scepter by which they rule others by. It’s the most unbecoming accessory. With it come chains that hold us back, tie us down and leave us wounded and unusable for the Kingdom of God. We feel as if we will never measure up to others by it, and we feel as if we are above others because of it. This stick is a lie. It’s a stumbling block designed to trip us up. And the maker of this stick is comparison.

Comparison is a chosen tool of our Enemy. Our minds must always be aware that he seeks to steal, kill and destroy our lives (John 10:10). In the most unexpected places he is prowling around like a lion, seeking to make us ineffective for the kingdom of God. His tactics are sneaky and deceptive. If we are not alert, he will attack at any moment in our most vulnerable places.

This brings me back to that unbecoming measuring stick we carry. He hands it to us in moments of weakness. He tries to sneak into the moments where God is teaching us His truths and what He has designed us to do. Instead of grasping the hand of our Creator who can do anything, we take hold of that stick and start measuring. When we measure, here’s what happens:

  1. We become down on ourselves and feel defeated before ever beginning our God-given task. We think, how could I measure up to her? Isn’t she more qualified? What do I have to offer?
  2. We become puffed up in our spirit thinking we are God’s answer to all the world’s problems. How could the church ever survive without me? I have more to offer than that person. I could do that better than they could.
  3. We become envious, wanting to be like our neighbor while forgetting the precious way God purposely created you to be. If only I were like her, I could do more for the Lord. (We mask our envy with God’s purposes.)

Paul warns us in Romans 12:3 not to think too highly of ourselves. He was noticing believers becoming puffed up and forgetting that they are all working as one body. Each member has a purpose; each member is significant to the body’s health and growth. One commentary described this verse in these words: “an inflated view of oneself is out of place in the Christian life.” But maybe you don’t think too highly of yourself. Maybe you think too low of who God made you to be. Maybe you spend your days in the muck and mire of doubt and discouragement, never lifting your eyes to see Him. Either direction our minds go, we are consumed with our image and how we measure up or down to others. This is the opposite of unity in Christ.

A Measure of Grace

Paul was warning us against the dangers of holding this measuring stick. He was warning against “Christian pride” that looks holy, but is actually worshipping self and not God. There is only one thing we should ever measure ourselves up to, and that is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The grace of God has set us free from never measuring up. Grace and Gospel free us from our measuring sticks. Because of the cross, we can carry around a measure of grace and not comparison. 

My challenge to you today is this: What if we all broke our measuring sticks? What if we stopped measuring ourselves next to every other person around us and set our eyes completely on Jesus? I believe our lives would be radically different. I believe we would rejoice with one another, weep with one another, encourage one another and help one another – all for the sake of the Gospel.

Sisters, let’s break our sticks today, through the power of Christ within us. Let’s live in light of the Gospel, knowing that we are enough because of Jesus, all for Jesus. I know I am a lot lighter when I don’t carry the measuring stick around. This is what true freedom is – lightness, joy, and confidence that what Jesus did on the cross will always be enough.

Breaking my stick with you,


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  1. You are so, so right. But there’s one thing that still worries me after reading this. God wanting us to use our abilities and talents for His kingdom. I know that’s not what makes us somehow deserve grace or going to His kingdom, but it sure is something He requires of us. And that’s where my measuring stick comes in. Because I have a severe anxiety disorder, I can’t do anything but sit in the house ( my parent’s house, no less) and browse around a little. The rest of the day I sleep, because everything takes so much energy. And I worry, very much, that I can’t help built God’s kingdom. I so, so want to, and I know that’s what He expects of me to a certain level. I know I live by grace, but I want to serve my King. And I can’t. This makes me feel very inadequate and sad. All I can do is pray, but I often don’t know where to start because I’m overcome by all this pain surrounding me.
    I’m trying to break that stick, too. I know God has a plan for me, but it’s been three years now. Years in which I haven’t been able to use my talents, haven’t been able to even recognize my talents anymore.

    I’m sorry for this waterfall of words, your piece just touched me. Thanks for writing, I just followed you trough Bloglovin’, so I’ll be sure to read along!

    • says:

      Oh Margaret, just reading this I wish I could sit with you and talk. The anxiety disorder you struggle with was defeated by Jesus on the cross. We all have things we struggle with that keeps us from being effective for the Kingdom at times – but that is where grace does come in. We can’t earn God’s favor, but He is SO gracious to use us for His Kingdom! He is going to do that for you as well. This anxiety will not triumph you and God has greater purposes in all of this! I am praying for you today!

  2. says:

    Gretchen, I have been following you on Instagram for some while and I just wanted to take the time to say THANK YOU for what you do by following the Lord. Your posts ALWAYS hit home in my heart and just encourage and inspire me. This post especially. Comparison is the thief of joy. Thanks for reminding me.

    Throwing down my stick,
    Sara Jean <3

  3. Needed this today, Gretch.

  4. Cheryl says:

    How can I break this stick? What should I do when I start to compare again?

    • says:

      Look to Jesus. Remember the cross. Remember that it has been broken in Him! Only He has the power to break it for us. We can’t do it in our own strength! It can be so hard at times when our feelings lie to us, but drink deeply of the Word. Refuse the words of man until the words of God have soaked your soul! It is a daily thing to break this stick. But He gives us grace upon grace upon grace!

  5. Laci Ortiz says:

    Thank you for this wonderful post. It can be so easy to fall into the trap that tells us we must compare to learn our value.

    God Bless,

    Laci Ortiz

  6. says:

    Wow, just what I needed to read. As I was trolling Facebook last night I came across someone & I just laid there comparing myself & ended up just getting really down on myself. This was such a great reminder! Thank you for sharing your heart!

  7. Yes to this a million times!!! Amen! Thank you for sharing. This is exactly what I needed today. Beginning a blog has been beautiful, but I have had to check myself and remind myself that I write for Him, not for me. I also want to use my gifts, not others. Glorifying Him with you today for making us each unique and beautiful in His image. Thanks, Gretchen!

    • says:

      I am so grateful to hear that Allie! I am praying that you would continue to write and share for His glory, not for the praise of man!

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