A few years ago I was asked to take a trip to Dimona, Israel to do some computer work. It was springtime when I left Maine, and I love springtime! The lawns are turning green, the trees are budding and blossoming, and the leaves are such a beautiful, rich, deep green, after a long winter. I love it.
When I arrived in Tel Aviv, I thought "These are ugly trees." Not a lot of trees and plants, and what there was, the leaves were a pale, sickly green. Didn't look healthy to me.
But then I went from Tel Aviv to Dimona, and found that Dimona's vegetation was even uglier! All dried up, hardly any leaves, scraggly, and looked like it would blow away in the wind.
That comparison made me think of Psalm 1, which says the righteous are like a strong and healthy tree, and the wicked are like the dried up grass that'll get blown away in the wind.
Of course, we all want to be full of life and health, like a strong, green tree. But in reality, our sin makes us shriveled and dried up (and let's even go as far as to say it makes us dead -- after all, that's what the Bible says!) Sometimes, we have a tendency to compare ourselves to others and say, "See, I'm not so bad!" But when we do that, we are comparing ourselves to the wrong person. Our measuring stick is Jesus Christ, in whom there was no sin at all (1 Peter 2:22).
The odd thing about my trip to Dimona was this: on the way home we returned to Tel Aviv, and I found myself thinking, "These trees look really green and healthy!" Then I thought, "Wait a minute...just a week ago, I was saying how ugly they were! What happened?" What happened is, I was comparing the trees to the Dimona trees instead of the Maine trees!
We get ourselves in trouble when we compare ourselves to anyone but Jesus.