The Comparison Thief.

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We compare everything.

I could break down the various ways we compare things, but it would take forever, because it is a part of our daily lives. It is what people are expected to do, and do well. It’s supposed to give us perspective (“Look at it this way: someone else has it worse than you”), help us make decisions (“This fruit looks less bruised than that one”), or give us understanding (“How is she acting differently today than yesterday?”)

So it makes it easy to think that comparison is a good and helpful thing.

But there’s a problem with comparison: when it comes to who we are and what we’re called to do, we often compare ourselves with the wrong people and things.

After Jesus tells Peter what his future is going to look like (John 21:18-19), it’s not exactly what Peter was hoping for or expecting. And Peter reacts a way a lot of us react to bad news:

Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them… When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?” Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!”  (20-22)

Peter falls into the trap a lot of us do: “Why can’t I have a fate more like his?” And in doing so, he fails to see that Jesus is calling Peter to a life that is in line with his: Peter will ultimately offer his life and future up to God completely the same way Jesus did. So in comparing himself with John, Peter blinds himself to his own path, one that will include establishing the early church, and becoming more like Jesus.

This past week, I was reading a magazine article about a band, and in it, the husband half of this duo describes a tattoo his wife got when she turned 40 that says, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” And although the context in the article was more about how comparing oneself and one’s life with others will ultimately stifle creativity and individuality, I think this stolen joy is applicable to the message we heard from Emily this week.

When we compare our lives and our paths to anyone besides Jesus, we’re trading in our joy for anxiety and mediocrity. Sure we’ll get by, but we’ll be unhappy. We’ll never have what that other person has because we aren’t that person, and we’ll never be that person. And as a result, we’ll never live the full life God offers because we’re settling for comparison, jealousy, and resentment.

Peter chose joy instead of comparison, and God used him beyond anything he could have imagined for himself. And we need to make the same decision for ourselves.

 Am I going to choose comparison to others and allow that to steal my joy, or will I listen to God’s unique call for me in my life, and choose joy? 

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