Choosing Contentment over Comparison

Choosing Contentment over Comparison

The love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
–1 Timothy 6:10

Years ago, I learned about the futility of comparing yourself to other people from a most unlikely source. It was the summer of 1984, and Amy and I went with our good friends, the Lovvorns, on a vacation to California. One evening we heard that the next day they were going to be taping the game show “Let’s Make a Deal” with Monty Hall. We thought it might be fun to try to get on that game show. So the next morning we got up early and drove to a costume shop in downtown Los Angeles because they would only pick people in outlandish costumes, and so we each rented a costume. Mark and Patty had Raggedy Ann and Andy costumes with the hair, the wig, the whole bit. Amy got a convict outfit with stripes, the ball and chain, and all of that. And I saw the perfect costume–a giant banana. So we got our costumes, and I was in my full-length banana suit driving down the freeway of California. And we got to the studio in Hollywood and there were hundreds of people in the parking lot trying to get one of the fifty spots on the trading floor to be on the show. And to our amazement and delight, we were actually chosen to be on the trading floor, those fifty people from whom Monty Hall would select a few people. We thought, “This is great!” And if that were not enough, finally the show started, and Monty Hall came down the aisle toward me, and he said, “My first deal of the day is for Robert Jeffress.” So we traded, and I won $350. A little bit later Monty went over to Mark and Patty. They won $1,200.

After the show, we went to a room where we filled out some release forms. I was seated next to a woman who had won a piano but traded it away for something else, and I began to think, “If only I had been in her seat on the trading floor, I could have won that piano.” We really would have liked a new piano. I lamented about that, then Mark and Patty started second-guessing. They won $1,200, but they wondered, “Maybe we should have gone for the big deal of the day.” Finally, the woman who won the big deal of the day was complaining that the furniture didn’t match the décor of her living room. And above all of this moaning and lamenting there, one woman said, “You know what? I wasn’t even expecting to win anything, I’m just glad I got on the show.”

The attitude choice that perhaps more than any other determines your level of happiness in life is choosing contentment over comparison. Nothing will rob you of joy in life any more than comparing yourself to other people, yet we do it all the time, don’t we? We compare ourselves to other people. Now, when I talk about comparing yourself with other people, I’m not talking about noticing that people have more or different than you have. Obviously, that’s true; there are people with bigger homes, larger salaries, and finer cars than we have. I’m not talking about noticing that, nor am I talking about trying to quench that God-given desire we all have to excel in life. Comparison is an attitude of dissatisfaction with God’s provisions for my life that leads to an obsession with having more.

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Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Choosing Contentment over Comparison” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2019.

Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.