The Difference is indeed huge when you realize it and try to analyse it.
They were the Supporters of Allah both psychically and financially as if they were serving a KING who was from their household meaning like their father, Cousin, brother or uncle.
Everything they did was to forward and promote and assist the word of Allah.
Allah says in the Quran:
قَالَتِ الْأعْرَابُ آمَنَّا قُل لَّمْ تُؤْمِنُوا وَلَكِن قُولُوا أسْلَمْنَا وَلَمَّا يَدْخُلِ الْإِيمَانُ فِي قُلُوبِكُمْ وَإِن تُطِيعُوا اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ لَآ يَلِتْكُم مِّنْ أعْمَالِكُمْ شَيْئًا إِنَّ اللَّهَ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ
The bedouins say, "We have believed." Say, "You have not [yet] believed; but say [instead], 'We have submitted,' for faith has not yet entered your hearts. And if you obey Allah and His Messenger, He will not deprive you from your deeds of anything. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful."
إِنَّمَا الْمُؤْمِنُونَ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا بِاللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ ثُمَّ لَمْ يَرْتَابُوا وَجَاهَدُوا بِأمْوَالِهِمْ وَأنفُسِهِمْ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ اُوْلَئِكَ هُمُ الصَّادِقُونَ
The believers are only the ones who have believed in Allah and His Messenger and then doubt not but strive with their properties and their lives in the cause of Allah . It is those who are the truthful.
قُلْ أتُعَلِّمُونَ اللَّهَ بِدِينِكُمْ وَاللَّهُ يَعْلَمُ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الْأرْضِ وَاللَّهُ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَلِيمٌ
Say, "Would you acquaint Allah with your religion while Allah knows whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth, and Allah is Knowing of all things?"
They were conducting all sorts of military, political and dawah activities on behalf of Allah and if they had failed to come through with their works none of us would have been muslim and Islam itself would have died with them. They were self-less in their service to Allah as they were serving him literally just like how we get to work everyday. They were getting up to work for Allah these people day in and day out.
And Allah goes on to say again in Surah as-Saf:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُونُوا أَنصَارَ اللَّهِ كَمَا قَالَ عِيسَى ابْنُ مَرْيَمَ لِلْحَوَارِيِّينَ مَنْ أَنصَارِي إِلَى اللَّهِ ۖ قَالَ الْحَوَارِيُّونَ نَحْنُ أَنصَارُ اللَّهِ ۖ فَآمَنَت طَّائِفَةٌ مِّن بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ وَكَفَرَت طَّائِفَةٌ ۖ فَأَيَّدْنَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا عَلَىٰ عَدُوِّهِمْ فَأَصْبَحُوا ظَاهِرِينَO you who have believed, be supporters of Allah, as when Jesus, the son of Mary, said to the disciples, "Who are my supporters for Allah ?" The disciples said, "We are supporters of Allah ." And a faction of the Children of Israel believed and a faction disbelieved. So We supported those who believed against their enemy, and they became dominant.
If you look around today you would find people like the Sahaba to be people described negatively in the world today and their enemies has grown larger then the sea both within the muslim world and in the none muslim world. They are basically outlaws everywhere this people on the surface of the earth.
And Subhanallah this is what the prophet(Sa) said about this people and he knew about these in our current time.
"Some people will come on the Day of Judgement and their Imaan will be outstanding, it's light will shine from their chests and from their right hands.
So it will be said to them,
'glad tidings for you today, Assalaamu alaykum and goodness for you, enter into it (Jannah) forever!'
So the angels and the Prophets will be jealous of the love of Allah for them."
So the Sahabah asked, 'who are they O Messenger of Allah?'
He (saw) replied, "They are not from us and they are not from you. You are my companions but they are my beloved. They will come after you and will find the book (the Qur'an) made redundant by the people, and a Sunnah which has been killed by them. So they will grab hold of the book and the Sunnah and revive them. So they will read them and teach them (the Qur'an and the Sunnah) to the people and they will experience in that path a punishment more severe and more ugly than what you (O Sahabah) have experienced. Indeed, the Imaan of one of them is equivalent to the Imaan of forty of you. The Shaheed of one of them is equivalent to forty of your Shuhadaa'. Because you found a helper towards the truth (the Prophet [saw]) and they will find no helper towards the truth. So they will be surrounded by tyrant rulers in every place, and they will be in the surroundings of Bayt ul-Maqdis (al-Quds). The Nussrah (victorious material support) of Allah will come to them, and they will have the honour of it on their hands.
" Then he (saw) said "O Allah give them the Nussrah and make them my close friends in Jannah."
Musnad al-Imaam Ahmad, chain no. 77, Hadeeth no. 17561.