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The Thief of Joy

*Week 3- Matters of the Heart

“Comparison is the thief of joy”

Theodore Roosevelt

Have you ever found it very difficult to be joyful?

Early Last year as the world waded through the pandemic and matters related to it, I went through a storm and found myself sinking in the waves of sadness and anxiety, the Holy Spirit began convicting me of choosing joy.

I had lost my joy because I found myself in a place of self doubt and low confidence.

You see, I had been comparing my abilities, my giftings, my available resources and my achievements with those of people around me and it put me under such enormous pressure!

I began carrying the weight of unspoken and unplanned "deadlines" in view of the things I am yet to accomplish which made me feel like I was failing in my life as I considered everything I still needed to achieve based on the achievements of those I was comparing myself with.

I then had a coffee date with my Dad during this time and he asked me something profound; ”Do you think a fish is not smart if that fish cannot climb a tree?

To His question I immediately answered, "of course not, because a fish wasn’t created to climb a tree, it was created to swim and that’s what fish does best."

In the same way I had been comparing myself and judging my progress on things that God hadn’t given me the grace to do. In Ephesians it says that we are each given a different Grace over our lives, and we have each been given different gifting by God.

Ephesians 4:7 _“But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”_

When we walk in the Grace God has given us and nurture the gifts he has given us we will flourish and we can find Joy in staying in our own lanes.

Unlike happiness which is experienced as a direct result of the events or things we are currently experiencing on the outside. Joy is an environment that can be perpetually experienced emanating from how we settle matters of our hearts. What are we placing importance and priority to in our hearts and who is ruling in our hearts is the key ingredient to receiving this perpetual Joy.

Comparison is the habit that has the ability to rob us of peace and joy and can often lead to feelings of jealousy and coveting what others have. Comparison is even more deadly when we find ourselves in a financial storm so it is best to recognise it and begin to deal with it when you are not in a bad place financially, However it is critically important to recognise it for what it is and deal with it decisively when you are in that storm already and begin to sink into depression as you compare with what others have when you have lost what you used to have.

What does choosing Joy look like when you find yourself stuck in comparison

1. Choosing Joy is choosing to be intentional.

* Being intentional about making the choice each day that no matter what tests or trials or thoughts of failure and self doubt come my way I'm going to choose Joy, I'm going to choose to put his praise on my lips and declare that God has good things in store for me.

* Psalm 100:1-3

“Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth. Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.”

2. Choosing Joy means choosing our thoughts carefully.

* I have often found myself in a place where I overthink and over analyse things so deeply that it leads me to a place of fear and sadness. The bible instructs us to think of things that lead our heart to a place of peace. We are able to control or train our thought-life so that we have healthy thoughts.

Philippians 4:8

“Finally, believers, whatever is true, whatever is honourable and worthy of respect, whatever is right and confirmed by God’s word, whatever is pure and wholesome, whatever is lovely and brings peace, whatever is admirable and of good repute; if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think continually on these things [center your mind on them, and implant them in your heart].”

3. Choosing Joy means choosing to be connected to the source of all that we need all the time.

*Knowing that Jesus came to give us a life of abundance (John 10: 10) means that we look to Jesus as the source of our fulfilment. This takes us away from the place of comparison because our focus on Jesus keeps us anchored and in the truth of who we are in him and not what we are not.

Reflect & Repent

*2 Corinthians 10:12*

“ Not that we dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who are commending themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding.”

1) How has comparison stolen your Joy and peace in this season?

2) What can you do today to get your Joy back?

- Look at Philippians 4:8 and see how you are doing in terms of your thought life.

- Write down the things you need to change about what you spend your time thinking about.

3) How can you thrive in the Lane that God has given you the grace to run in ?

- Think about the things that you have not what you don't have

- Ask God to show you how he has gifted you so that you run your own race and don't compare with how other have been gifted

-Ask God to help you grow your gift and talents in the way he intended you to do.

Scriptural encouragement

Romans 15:13

“ May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as *you trust in him,* so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Prayer for Joy.

Holy Spirit I’m sorry for comparing my life and my gifts to those around me, I know you are doing a unique work in and through me and you have given me a special Grace and call upon my life. I recognise how the Thief has used comparison to rob me of the perspective of what i have and subsequently leave me in a place of sadness and anxiety.

Please help me to choose Joy today. I commit my thoughts and my life to you. I declare that you are my source of everything that i need and I pray that everything that i want will grow from your will is in my life. Have your way in my life today. Amen.

*More Tools from our library:*

If you are struggling with comparison, listen to a message from our lead Pastor Andre Greeff and discover more ways that you can untangle from comparison.

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