When we talk about the line "Comparison is the thief of joy," we usually associate it with the 26th president of the United States of America, Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt. Roosevelt expressed it best about comparison when he exclaimed, "Comparison is the thief of joy," in one of his speeches.
Starting with the source of this well-known remark, it is apparent that Theodore Roosevelt had a positive outlook on life. Rarely do we see photographs of President Roosevelt without an ear-to-ear grin on his face, which is remarkable given the challenges he faced during his life.
However, the line "Comparison is the thief of joy" cannot be solely attributed to Roosevelt. Throughout history, even during the Old Testament, many people have struggled with comparing themselves to others, and the Word of God addresses this issue regularly. The dilemma is mentioned in the Bible through the stories of Rachel and Leah, Jacob and his siblings, and even Jesus' disciples.
Before Christ intervened on the Road to Damascus, the Apostle Paul battled with comparison. Some comments spoken with others during his ministry offered insights on dealing with comparison. Let's investigate what the Bible tells us about comparing ourselves with others and why we should avoid this because comparison is the thief of joy.
Comparison bars us from seeing the Fruits of the Spirit.
Paul emphasizes the necessity of recognizing the spiritual gifts given to us by God as distinct and distinct from one another in his epistle to the Roman church. In Romans 12:6, Paul says, "Then, having various gifts according to the grace given to us, let us use them; if prophecy, let us prophecy in proportion to our faith."
This verse clearly states that we use the spirit's spiritual gifts given to us. However, if we continue to compare ourselves with others, we bar ourselves from seeing the fruits given to us. In another verse in 2 Corinthians 10:12, Paul specifically explained his interpretation of comparison as written. Similarly, Paul asks the Galatian church, "Or am I attempting to please men? I would not be a bondservant of Christ if I still pleased men," in Galatians 1:10.
These Bible passages demonstrate that the peace we all desire is attainable: freedom from comparison and contentment in whatever condition we find ourselves in since we are in this condition with God.
Comparison bars us from contentment.
Another reason why comparison is the thief of joy is that it tells us not to be content. We become sad about our situations because we compare ourselves with what others have achieved, like having a new car, a new house, and a so-called happy life. Still, there are strategies to stay away from these evil thoughts. First, we have to establish a physical (or mental) list of the areas in our lives where we feel the most compelled to compare ourselves with others.
These can be marital status, career, financial resources, gifts, etc. This way, we can now recognize which areas we seem to compare ourselves with others. After this, the second part is to remind ourselves that we are all sinners in need of Jesus' saving grace daily and are the same after all. Others may appear to have it all together on the outside, but they are just as vulnerable to comparison and other people's perceptions.
And last, we have to pray and meditate every day to eliminate our evil thoughts and focus ourselves on God alone. After all, it is written in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.
Comparison bars us from happiness.
Remember the moments when God answered your prayers or bestowed unexpected blessings on you. These events demonstrate that even amid adversity, God wants you to rejoice in His benefits and love.
However, if we compare ourselves with others, we bar ourselves from thinking of such blessings. When you sense your delight is being overpowered by melancholy or hopelessness, do something you enjoy that provides you satisfaction. Reading a book, calling/seeing a friend, or taking a walk in a beautiful environment can all take your mind off your melancholy and provide you joy.
You can also contribute to someone else's cause. Volunteer someplace or make it a mission to do random acts of kindness wherever you go in your day to provide joy to not just yourself but to those who don't even know you. Let us not forget the God who gave us the fruits of the spirit, which includes kindness and joy, to use for ourselves and others, as is written in Galatians 5:21-23.
Write a list of things you love about yourself.
It might feel a little weird at first, but you will feel instantly uplifted when you become aware of all the great things you have going for yourself. Ask yourself, what makes you different? It can go a lot deeper than the way you look. It can also be that you have a fantastic family and friends, a job that serves you, and a talent that makes you unique. There is no limit to how long this list can go. So go for it and see what a positive impact it can have.
Be thankful for everything you have and the small everyday things that happen in your life. Be it the daily coffee you grab on the way to work, the kind bus driver who brightens your dull morning with a smile, or the candlelit dinner you had with your closest people in the evening, there is always something to be thankful for. Acknowledge them as they happen; that way, you are constantly counting your blessings. Soon, you'll be doing it without even knowing.
What Theodore Roosevelt said is correct and is even supported by the different verses of the Bible. Scripture confirms that comparison traps joy, but we can keep the joy in our hearts if we follow God's discernment to escape comparison traps. We can fight comparison by being aware of how we compare ourselves to others and reminding ourselves of the joy we have in our lives due to God's blessings and opportunities to serve Him.