It’s often said that “comparison is the thief of joy,” but why is that true?
The act of comparison takes our eyes off God and places them on ourselves and the people we’re comparing ourselves to. When we most need to see and understand the love of God, to begin “to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ” (Ephesians 3:18), we avert our gaze. When keeping our eyes fixed on God would reveal the goodness and mercy of God, we focus elsewhere. And that lack of focus on God is devastating because joy comes from God.
Dallas Willard beautifully articulates this concept by saying, "A joyous God fills the universe. Joy is the ultimate word describing God and [God’s] world. Creation itself was an act of joy, a celebration of the goodness in what was made. And because God is like this, and we can know [God] in this way, a life of contentment becomes possible."
Joy is undeniably one of the gifts God desires to bestow upon us. It's explicitly listed in Galatians 5:22 as a fruit of the Holy Spirit, intended to be a hallmark of a life aligned with God's Spirit. However, when we engage in comparisons, our focus shifts from God to ourselves and those we're comparing ourselves to, diminishing the joy rooted in our connection to God.
Comparison not only distracts us from God's boundless love but also severs our connections with others. It sets us on one side of the scale and someone else on the opposite side, creating division instead of fostering relationships. At a time when we need the fellowship of others, comparison isolates us, undermining the sources of joy in our lives.
Relationships are fundamental to God's design. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit—a divine community of love—desired to share the joy and goodness of that community with those created in God’s image.
The love that enables us to be part of this community is God's love. It allows us to understand one another, to share our stories, and develop empathy. By following the Holy Spirit's guidance, we can freely use our God-given gifts, recognizing that we all need one another.
Loved, accepted, and empowered by God, we can love and accept one another. Engaged in a trinitarian circle of life, we can live in relationships marked by mutual submission, mutual love, and mutual blessing. Blessed by God, we can bless one another.
Instead of seeing ourselves in isolation, we can recognize that we were designed to work with others, forming a beautiful, intricate puzzle. We don't need to define ourselves through comparisons with others; we can define ourselves as God's beloved children.
The life of the Trinity—a life of love, fellowship, and mutual delight—is available to us. Crafted in the image of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, we can rejoice in our relationships with God and one another. Redeemed and empowered by God, we can be secure in our unique gifts and callings without constantly comparing ourselves to others. We can have unwavering confidence in God's love and blessings for all of us, recognizing that there is no inadequacy in God's design.