Comparison Is The Thief Of Joy

One reason I never tire of hearing familiar Bible stories is their timelessness. They address core human conditions that we wrestle with today–family tensions, love triangles, power struggles, jealousy. The Parable that we heard in church last week reminded me of the popular saying, Comparison is the Thief of Joy, with a twist.

Comparison Is The Thief Of Gratituted
You may know the Parable of the Vineyard Workers from Matthew 20:1-16. It starts like this: 

For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for the usual daily wage [a denarius], he sent them into the vineyard.

As the story continues, the landowner returns to the marketplace later in the morning, midday, mid-afternoon, and near the end of the day, each time hiring a few more workers. At the end of the day, he calls them all in to distribute their pay, paying the last group first.

And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each of them received a denarius. Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received a denarius.And on receiving it they grumbled at the householder, saying, “These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.”

I love that Jesus tells us that the workers who were hired first expected to receive more than the workers who were hired last, even though they had agreed to work all day for one denarius. I have been in the same situation–content with my salary until I learned that people doing similar work were paid more. (I was so mad I decided to go to law school to rectify that!)

But Jesus calls the workers out:

But he replied to one of them, “Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what belongs to you, and go; I choose to give to this last as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?So the last will be first, and the first last.”

I love that Jesus responds to the human demand for fairness with a lesson in divine generosity. When we think we deserve more than we are getting, we clamor for fairness, right? But once we realize that we are getting more than we deserve, we are grateful.

Because Jesus is not really talking about wages in this Parable, but God’s grace, he may be reminding us that we all are getting more than we deserve, and so we all should be grateful, even if we (wrongly) believe that we are more deserving than others, because God’s grace isn’t earned, but is freely given to all.

So, yes, “comparison is the thief of joy,” but it also can be the thief of gratitude. Instead of comparing myself to others and focusing on what they have that I don’t, or what they can do that I can’t, I can be grateful for all the blessings in my life that bring me joy.

I’m linking up with Deb’s Wednesday Word — check it out!

Deb Runs

What are you grateful for this week?

What is bringing you joy?

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14 Responses to Comparison Is The Thief Of Joy

  1. Interesting food for thought. These ideas can be applied to many areas in our lives. Have a great day
    Deborah Brooks @ Confessions of a Mother Runner recently posted…Lorna Jane Active Nation Day-do the #LJMoveMy Profile

  2. This is something I really have to work on. I tend to over compare and undervalue my own accomplishments.
    Abby @ BackAtSquareZero recently posted…Halloween BarkMy Profile

  3. Kim says:

    This week I’m beyond grateful and filled with joy over the fact that all 3 of my siblings are coming up this weekend for Chris’ promotion ceremony!!!
    Kim recently posted…Ready for a Rest DayMy Profile

  4. Alison says:

    I love this. Yes, let’s try to be more grateful for what we have versus envious of what others have. Great post!
    Alison recently posted…Wednesday Word: ComparisonMy Profile

  5. HoHo Runs says:

    I love how your spun this from the negative thought of comparison to the positive thought of gratitude! We should all count our blessings.
    HoHo Runs recently posted…Making ComparisonsMy Profile

  6. Kelli says:

    Very thought-provoking. Always important to be thankful about what we have. I am never more conscious of that as when I show up at races and see the para-triathletes or hand-cycles at running races. It really puts things into perspective.
    Kelli recently posted…Woman Crush Wednesday – Tanya LoganMy Profile

  7. Great post! Of course I am totally guilty of the comparison game, but I also spend at least portion of pretty much every run being grateful that I CAN run.
    Judy @ Chocolaterunsjudy recently posted…Comparison is the Thief of Joy (Theodore Roosevelt)My Profile

  8. Anne says:

    I love how the parable puts the notion of “fairness” in perspective. It’s much easier to see your own gifts when you’re not considering someone else’s.
    Anne recently posted…Dare to Compare?My Profile

  9. I was incredibly grateful to spend the last five days in Chicago visiting my son and daughter-in-law, with my hubby and other son. I feel so blessed to have such a close-knit family.

    Thank you for linking up! Loved how you tied the parable into your Wednesday Word post.
    Debbie @ Deb Runs recently posted…Solo RunfessionsMy Profile

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