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3 Ways Comparison Steals My Joy

Posted in A Class Act by Linden Barrick on March 29, 2012

I put up a “Thought for the Week” in my classroom, so I’m always jotting down inspiring or interesting words or phrases and eventually typing them into my Quotes folder on my computer. Recently, the quote I chose was “comparison is the thief of joy”. Not only is comparison the thief of joy, it is also one of the devil’s weapons. And he wields it liberally. Here are three ways he uses it to his advantage:

1. Comparison says we’ll never measure up. It doesn’t matter if I’m striving to be thin, smart, well-dressed, patient, or clever, there will always be someone who is thinner, smarter, better dressed, more patient, or more clever. No matter how hard I try, I’ll never be the best. My self-worth vaporizes in the face of comparison.

The only way to truly measure “me” is by comparing what I am now to what I used to be. If I strive to walk the path God places before me and use my past self as my “ruler”, I’ll continue to be “more” than I was before. My value elevates.

2. Comparison erodes relationships. If I continually compare myself to a friend, a sibling, a colleague, or any other person, my bond with that person suffers. Christian love for another human being cannot flourish while fighting its way from the jaws of comparison.  Jealousy hungrily devours its host.

I see this both with adults and so often with my students. Young teens spend countless hours and a lot of (their parents’) money on clothes, electronics, games, and activities trying to fit in by having “the best”. Unfortunately, until they embrace their uniqueness and understand that it’s a gift from God, they’ll struggle to be happy and their relationships will be damaged.

The devil’s greatest thrill is when I allow comparison to weaken my spiritual relationship. If I am focused on what other people have and how they act, I am not working to strengthen my relationship with God and Jesus. That relationship cannot flourish until I let go of earthly comparison.

3. Comparison cultivates greed and crushes contentment. Have you ever watched toddlers play together? Talk about a great example of discontent. When a toy gets picked up by one, the other will snatch it from his hands. It doesn’t matter if there are fifty more toys in the room because the one claimed by someone else must be the best.

Teens and adults act like toddlers quite frequently. Yep, I’m one of those adults. When I see something I like that belongs to someone else, I often let the greed monster (you know, the devil himself) talk me into needing one. “I deserve it. I work hard and earn a paycheck. The one I have is so old and totally out-of-style. Why should her life be better than mine?” That devil sure is good at whispering in my ear, making me have a little pity party, encouraging me to cheer myself up with a little retail therapy or another slice of chocolate cake. Too bad whatever I buy or eat never spreads contentment in my heart. Only God can do that. The devil loves it when I forget.

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5 Responses to '3 Ways Comparison Steals My Joy'

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  1. Pat Dyer said,

    Excellent post, Linden. I think we often compare ourselves to others to see, as you said, how we “measure up.” However, we do need to remember that God has made each of us uniquely different, for His purposes. Once we accept that and commit to His will, there’s no limit to what God can and will do with us.

  2. Pat Collins said,

    This truly resonates with me. I am God’s masterpiece – strong & beautiful in His eyes. It is definitely an area where Satan tries to have a foothold though, because of prior hurts & insecurities. If I stay focused on God’s word, daily prayer and walking in His light ~ I have the armour & shield to thwart the enemy.
    You are indeed an inspiration Linden – it’s wonderful that you post your quotes and writings in your classroom. What an incredible witness!


  3. A thoughtful post! I’ve spent half the day cleaning my closet and sorting – and there is still too much. I wonder if you’ve hit the reason my closet got so full. Thanks for the encouragement – it’s what i needed to hear tol go at round 2 Friday with a vengeance!

  4. marneymcnall said,

    Comparison road is such a dead end, isn’t it? Kills your joy. I find I often feel it acutely when reading blogs that have oodles of followers. Rather than give in to that, I want to show my support for those doing good work. (Saw your blog link on the ACFW course loop).


    • Oh, yeah…the bloggers who have been doing this for a long time and have a great following make me feel super inadequate. Thanks for your support! I’ve clicked “follow” for you too. Let’s ignore the negative and keep on plugging away!


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