To Catch a Thief

BARREL BOYUntil I nabbed the crook, for years I had been the victim of his thievery.

One day, I’d have my pockets picked; another day I’d have my pockets stolen, right along with my shirt and trousers.

Sometimes I’d find that my dresser drawers had been emptied. Other times I’d find that whole rooms had been emptied—furniture, rugs, drapes—everything gone.

For years nothing was safe, even if the doors were locked and everything was nailed down. And I couldn’t catch the perpetrator because I never saw him. This thief operated invisibly and quickly.  In the blink of an eye, this burglar could rob me blind, leaving me stripped and empty handed.

Even when I managed to retrieve some of my stolen goods, it was just a matter of time before they’d be pinched again.

But eventually I caught on.

This thief could only steal me blind by making me blind. Only by directing my attention to someone else’s possessions was this crook free to steal mine.

To catch this thief, I had to catch myself—because the name of this thief is Comparison.

The enemy loves it when we invite the thief of Comparison into our lives. When we can’t see the good things that have been given to us, not only do we live poor ourselves, but we fail to enrich others.

The One who became poor so that we might become rich desires that we spread the wealth around. It is out of fullness that our hearts overflow, and out of gratefulness that we practice generosity.

If we let Comparison steal our gifts, whether spiritual or material, we will have nothing left to give away. So, whenever you catch Comparison red-handed, just show that thief the door.

But check his pockets first. He’s got really sticky fingers.

What is your strategy for stopping this thief?

9 thoughts on “To Catch a Thief

  1. Dave, what a great post. You had me guessing who the thief was. Comparison never entered my mind, which shows how blind I am to it. I struggle with keeping my thoughts away from this thief, but it’s hard labor. I hadn’t thought about the after effects of the thievery: We have nothing left to give away.

    Just profound.

    • Jeanne, thank you for letting me know that you heard what I was trying to say.. Your feedback is a valuable gift because sometimes I’m just not sure if I’m making sense,
      Whenever I am reminded of Theodore Roosevelt’s quote, “Comparison is the thief of joy” it goes straight to my heart. It is a profound insight with which I am uncomfortably familiar.
      What God has been teaching me is that when–through comparison–all I see in my life (and in myself) is lack, then I live as if I have nothing to offer. So I don’t offer myself to others.
      The truth is that Christ in you, and Christ in me, is so much more than enough to share with others.
      Thanks for sharing, Jeanne. I needed to revisit this truth today;-).

      • Yep, I went a round with comparison last night, and I lost. I needed to re-read this post again this morning. Thanks for the reminder that Christ in us is more than enough to share with others. Needed that.

  2. Comparison is a sneaky one. A friend would remind me over and over, “When you compare, you lose.” Exactly what you’re saying here, but with visuals. Your post helps me “see” the empty rooms if I insist on keeping on. Oh, I’m happy for friends when they succeed, so I only compare myself with people I don’t like, which somehow seems justifiable … might need to rethink that one in light of this post. Thanks, Dave.

  3. First, you are so right—comparison is “sneaky.”
    Second, your friend is so right–“When you compare you lose.”
    What I am learning is that when I compare, other people lose, too, because when I think I have nothing of value to offer, I don’t offer myself to others.
    Third, thank you , Kim, for sharing your personal insights and helping me to process life-transforming truth.


  4. You had me in suspense, Mr. Hamlin, trying to figure out what analogy you were building up to in your post. And then it struck me all the more when you revealed the vandal as Comparison, because I had just heard a session on comparing last week. And when I hear something more than once–especially in the same week–I think it’s God really pointing something out to me. =)

    What really rang out to me was the sentence, “Only by directing my attention to someone else’s possessions was this crook free to steal mine.” So very true.

    And another thing Comparison steals (which you touched on in your reply above!) is the ability to truly focus on others. Sure, I’m observing others and their belongings, but only to wish I had them or validate my own possessions or abilities. So once I can stop being self-conscience and seeing how I measure up to others, I can start seeing people–the real people, not just their stuff–and how I can bless them.

    Thank you for your insightful articles!

    • Katie, it was so very kind of you to share your thoughts about this post.
      So, you were not able to crack the case of the mysterious thief?.Well, I sure didn’t leave you many clues:-) As for me, the case went cold for years before I finally caught this crook.
      I think you are wise to pay special attention when the same message is coming to you from multiple sources. Way to keep your eyes open!
      “So once I can stop being self-conscience and seeing how I measure up to others, I can start seeing people–the real people, not just their stuff–and how I can bless them.”
      Well said! Now that’s the heart of the matter, isn’t it?
      Thanks, Katie, for sharing your comments and insights with me!

  5. Ah, comparison!

    I try to reverse it, to make comparisons of gratitude.

    I have enough to eat – many don’t. I have a covered place to sleep – many don’t. I have clean water – many don’t.

    I don’t have to kill anyone today.

    No one is likely to try to kill me today (and if anyone does, he will learn just how traumatic life can become).

    I have a wonderful wife, and delightful dogs, and the ability to abuse alliteration.

    Yeah, I’m OK.

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