This is the last transitional post as I prepare to write on John Bevere’s book Good or God. We will begin that book with my next post in two days.
In my previous post, I wrote on the phenomenon called social comparison; the idea that some people compare their lives to others. Some people constantly wonder if they are as attractive as others, have as much money as others, are as smart as others and have social lives as vibrant as others’ social lives. The idea is that they think they don’t and they are envious of what they think others have. Living like that can truly spoil your life.
Said another way, living like that can “steal your joy.”
What can be done about this?
One thing that can be done to stop this negative outlook is to admit you have it. So many people are in denial but denying the existence of envy will just keep it alive. To be honest, it is easy to fall into the trap of begrudging other people’s blessings and beauty; it is much harder to admit that envy is weighing you down. You cannot accept that others do have desirable qualities but they also have their share of problems too. No one is without challenges but people who have envy due to social comparison only see the desirable things in another’s life.
Of course, none of us have a life that is totally positive.
Gratitude helps battle social comparison. It is difficult to be jealous when you have a focus on the things in life that you are grateful for. Envy is a negative outlook that sees only what you lack, the deficits and the disparities between your life and others. Gratitude is an orientation that gets one focused on what is good—the blessings of your life and truthfully, we all have blessings. Gratitude is not “simple-minded, dishonest or forgetful.” Some would say gratitude denies that your life is less than perfect but gratitude does not deny loss, lack or hardship. What gratitude does do is prevent us from totally focusing on what we covet by forcing us to emphasize what is good in our lives.
Beyond gratitude is generosity. Yes, generosity gets us looking beyond ourselves to the lives of others who can use our help. If you have time, money, knowledge, abilities and talents that you can share with others who are less fortunate than you, you begin to see your situation is not that bad. Others have needs that are great and we can help them. In fact, it is humbling to realize we can help others. It is humbling to be able to help those who have been touched with suffering and hardship.
Pastor Rick Warren comments that one of the worst things we can do as Christians is to tell others that we follow Christ and then live a life where we have lost our joy. He says “when God’s children aren’t filled with joy, it makes God look bad. Cranky Christians are a bad witness. They look like they have been baptized in vinegar because they are never smiling. And that makes God look bad.”
Because God wants us to be witnesses with our countenance.
Romans 14:17 says “The Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”
Truly the easiest thing of all is to lose your joy.
Social comparison is not constructive; it is destructive. Envy is not productive, it is counter-productive. Jealousy is not a characteristic that leads to peace and joy; it just leads to dissatisfaction and dismay.
Warren says the easiest thing for us to lose is not our glasses, our keys or our minds.
It is our joy.
Don’t let your joy be stolen by social comparison.
You might as well learn to love yourself on your own terms. You are the only you that you have. There is no need to compare yourself to others. God has given you what He intends for you to have and He intends you to live a life of goodness, peace and joy.
If you claim that you love Him, try to live a life of joy.
It helps to spread His message because it shows that He is at work in your life.
Good for you.
Good for God.