A FOUR-YEAR-OLD received as gifts a pair of new shoes and a tube of toothpaste. With a child's spontaneity and imagination, he asked, ``Is toothpaste better than shoes?'' His father replied, ``Let's think about it. Could shoes brush your teeth? Could toothpaste keep your feet warm?'' Johnny laughed. It was obvious that one could not do the job of the other. Certainly there's a sense in which comparisons can be useful, enabling us to distinguish between a good product and an inferior one, for example. Yet comparisons of individuals are less than welcome. They often tend to belittle, not to build up. People may indeed have their strengths and weaknesses, but all need to feel the kindness that values individual worth.

Comparisons of the detrimental sort dishonor God by implying that He plays favorites, bestows bountifully on some and withholds from others. Not so. The actual fact is that God in His infinite goodness and love excludes none. In the spiritual reality of creation, every one of God's offspring is an original, perfect in its own way, amply supplied with all it needs for fulfillment.

In this marvelous divine scheme one individual never displaces or replaces another. Each is in a class by himself but not isolated by himself. Although each one is distinct, each lives and moves harmoniously along with others in one perfect, spiritual whole. This is, of course, the absolute spiritual fact of God's creation. Although it seems contradicted in human experience, it is nevertheless reality, to be progressively demonstrated in our lives.

Following a discussion of diversified spiritual gifts, the Apostle Paul comes right down to earth with this vivid illustration: ``The body is not one member, but many. If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?''1

Each one is important to his Maker, God. Each one is indispensably his own distinct, wonderful self. A perception of this spiritual fact can go a long way in ruling out petty criticism and envy. No one really enjoys being envious, but the temptation to compare unequal situations is sometimes strong. Take heart! There's a cure, a healing release in the provable fact that our mutual Parent -- our Father-Mother God -- has created each one of His children spiritually complete. Each of us, then, has the God-derived opportunity to express the boundless intelligence, love, creativity, and so forth, of the divine nature.

Because his life is in God, man's individuality remains intact. You will always be you, I will always be me. But not the you and me of today's report card. Everyone has a perfect, spiritual individuality that includes, as God's image, all of His qualities. This individuality is never inept, incompetent, indifferent, frustrated, or discontented. And we can see our lives change for the better as we begin to discern this reality and live in harmony with the truth of man as God has actually created him.

This gravitating Godward invites aletting go of mortality's earth-weights, whether we're carrying along a feeling of deprivation or even of superiority. Sometimes we're dragged down by a well-meaning but mistaken sense of duty. We feel obligated to compare another's sagging fence with our sturdy one and to tell him how to mend it. And if we're impatient with his procrastination, we may even attempt to do it for him. But at what cost? Mary Baker Eddy2 writes, ``We lose a percentage due to our activity when doing the work that belongs to another.''3 Of course, there are occasions when it's our responsibility to lighten or remove a brother's burden. Unselfed love, humility, and prayer will reveal the right way for us to help.

Bearing in mind God's boundless resources and His impartial, universal love, we can find guidance and comfort from these lines:

All perfect gifts are from above,

And all our blessings show The amplitude of God's dear love

Which every heart may know.4

As divine logic and spiritual intuition coincide, we arrive at the healing conclusion that personal comparisons arenot useful. And they are unthinkable in God's vast spiritual universe, where each and all are cherished and needed.

1I Corinthians 12:14-16. 2The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science. 3Message to The Mother Church for 1900, p. 8. 4Christian Science Hymnal, No. 342. DAILY BIBLE VERSE The very hairs of your head are all numbered. Matthew 10:30

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