Who are your models? Who do you measure yourself against? If you want to become a better person or better at your job, you “compare up.” You look for someone who inspires you, someone who could teach you a thing of two—a mentor. On the other hand, the Pharisee in the story from Luke 18 wants God to see him in the best possible light and compares himself down to the lowest available strata on the social spectrum and leaves himself to shine. Pride is best buddies with insecurity.
It’s very American to keep track of comparisons. It’s also a trap. In social media, we’re set up to see an ongoing feed of how well and prosperous and happy everybody else is and so we upgrade our online image to keep up (#lookatme).
And then, there’s Jesus who calls us to live one life and live it out in the open. His name for that is purity of heart, and his reward for that is a rich and fulfilling blessing in life.