Comparison Is the Thief of Joy

I heard a great sermon today from John 21:20-23. In the text, Jesus has finished telling Peter how he will glorify God by dying as a martyr. Peter then proceeds to do what he does best– namely, put his big foot in his bigger mouth– by asking Jesus, “Well, what about John?”

The gist is that Jesus tells Peter not to worry about John. He says, “You follow me.”

I wonder how many special moments in my own life have been ruined by me comparing them to other people’s experiences. I probably spend way too much time focused on how others think of me or how they seem to have more than me or how my spirituality compares to theirs.

I think Theodore Roosevelt is the one that said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.”

You can ruin a good moment by comparing it to a seemingly better one. You can mess up a compliment from a friend by comparing it to the compliment he or she gave to someone else.

I think the words of Jesus ring just as true for me as for Peter. I need to be so consumed in following Jesus that I don’t have time to compare my walk, my body, my mind, or anything else with anybody else.

Easier said than done. Every ad from every kind of media source feeds off of of a deep-seated competitive nature of ours and wants buy any number of things to keep up with the Joneses or whoever else we may be comparing ourselves with.

I think for me the only kind of healthy comparison is with myself. Can I be more like Jesus today than I was yesterday? Can I be more patient and understanding than I was last week? Can I love my neighbor as myself better than I did last month?

Once you and I fully realize that the approval we seek can’t be earned from others but only given by God, then the downward pull of comparison has no more power over us. God’s approval comes to those made in His image who have placed all their hopes and trust and faith in Jesus.

Contentment, not comparison, is what brings true joy.

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