Comparing Your Way to Humility

In the last post, Incomparable God, we considered how comparing ourselves to God can become a means to praise and proclamation. But that is not the end of the fruit that can come from right comparison.

Consider Job. A righteous man who suffered terribly, Job deserved answers if any man did. But did he get them? No. In fact, what he got was more questions - questions directed at him. Questions to get him to compare himself, not to those who suffer more than him (that would be to provoke guilt) or less than him (that would be to provoke bitterness) but to compare himself to God. Questions like:

  • Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? (38:4)
  • Have you commanded the morning since your days began? (38:12)
  • Have the gates of death been revealed to you? (38:17)
  • Have you entered the storehouses of snow? (38:22)

And on and on the questions come. 

The answer to all of them is “No, Job has done, seen, knows none of these things… but God has done, seen and knows all these things.” In a comparison with God, Job scores zero.

But is God’s design to grind Job down further and humiliate him? No, absolutely not, but it is designed to humble him, to help him see himself rightly in comparison to God. And it works: “Behold, I am of small account; what shall I answer you? I lay my hand on my mouth” (40:4); “I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes” (42:6). And all this comes from seeing God and himself in right comparison: “I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you” (42:5).

And so while he may not have got the answers he wanted, right comparison gave him something far better - God. A knowledge of God that stilled his heart and with it his questions. An experience of God that gave him an emotional stability and sense of peace that nothing else - perhaps not even answers - could.

The same can be true for us. When we face loss, like Job, we can question the goodness and justice of God. But as we compare our fickle emotions with Jesus’ great faithfulness; his selfless sacrifice with our self-concern, even, at times, our self-pity; his resurrection power with our frailty, we are both humbled and lifted up. We see him for who he is and ourselves for who we are and it does us good. He is infinitely greater yet stoops so low to save us. Every questioning heart needs that kind of comparison.