Upward Social Comparison

Upward Social Comparison

In 1954 a social psychologist named Leon Festinger proposed the Social Comparison theory. This theory has two main parts: upward social comparisons and downward social comparisons. An example of upward social comparison would be when someone observes another person excelling in a certain area which motivates the observer to work harder to achieve the excellence. An example of downward social comparison would be when an observer compares himself to someone either failing or performing worse than the observer and decides to be content with their performance as there is someone far worse than he.

Although man did not place a label on this type of thinking until 1954, the practice of comparing or judging ourselves by others has been going on for millennia. In Job 31 we see Job’s final declaration to his three friends. Job describes his innocence as seen by God. Job 31:5-6 “If I have walked with vanity, or if my foot hath hasted to deceit;  Let me be weighed in an even balance, that God may know mine integrity.” Job understood we have a Judge who compares us not among ourselves, but by His own righteousness. Far too often we Christians compare ourselves to other Christians or worse, unbelievers to validate our lifestyle choices. “As long as I’m doing better than our neighbor” is a thinking that has permeated our society. God has a different measuring rod- Himself.

The Lord is pure and righteous and He promises blessings to those who live righteously. “For the Lord loveth judgment, and forsaketh not his saints; they are preserved for ever: but the seed of the wicked shall be cut off.” (Psalm 37:28) He promises to hear the prayers of the righteous. “For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.” (1 Peter 3:12)

Choose today to live by the righteous standards found in God’s Word. Don’t compare yourself to those around you to make yourself feel better. Choose God, the ultimate example of righteousness, as your target for your upward social comparison.

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