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DEVOTIONAL: Comparison is the Thief of Joy

We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.  — 2 Corinthians 10:12 (NIV)

Having just celebrated Thanksgiving here in the US, we are now officially in the Christmas Season, and you know what that means for many folks: ‘tis the Season for comparisons, consumerism, dissatisfaction, and envy! Some snarky cultural commentators have pointed out, “America is the only country where we have a national holiday set aside for Thanksgiving and counting our blessings, followed a few hours later by a coast-to-coast shopping spree that sometimes includes people tragically getting shot over parking spaces or trampled outside mall doors.” Is this how God wants us to live? 

Speaking of the devil and Himself in John 10:10, Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” According to Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians, he warns us not to compare ourselves with others. Over 100 years ago Mark Twain quipped “Comparison is the death of joy.” 

Even today, modern psychology points out that the human trait to compare ourselves with others is highly toxic and corrosive. Observers see this as a special pitfall of today’s social media: countless users post carefully-curated images of “the perfect vacation,” “the perfect Christmas tree,” “the perfectly-dressed and -behaved children,” etc. designed to present a false aura of perfection. The result? We scroll through page after page and come away with the impression, “Everyone else is happy and has a perfect life, except me. My life stinks. Poor me.” Social scientists have discovered that greater exposure to social media correlates to higher incidences of loneliness, isolation, envy and depression.

Is there a better way? The Bible gives us a way out! Someone once wrote, “I used to believe things were true because they were in the Bible. Now, I believe things are in the Bible because they are true.” If comparing ourselves to others brings feelings of emptiness, then the Bible’s command to stop playing “the comparison game” can help us open the doorway to joy. 

Rather than put pressure on yourself to try to live up to some unattainable “Hallmark Christmas” level of perfection, instead today decide to stop comparing yourself to others and instead live and enjoy the life, relationships, gifts and possessions God has already given you. As motivational speaker Zig Ziglar used to say, “The more you thank God for the things you have, the more things you’ll have to thank God for.” 

Try it! The new mindset might surprise you! 



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