Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘jealousy’

The Apostle Paul said, “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.”  Throughout the epistles he exhorts us to do the same.  Recently, I’ve sensed the Lord highlighting some of the childish things that need to be put away.

 

First and foremost, a child is self-centered.  A baby has no capacity to concern itself with whether its parents are tired or busy or sick, it just knows that it’s not comfortable (e.g. hungry, wet, gassy, tired) and it demands immediate attention.  Presumably, as we get older, our awareness of other people and their struggles grows, but in times of trouble we can easily return to our infancy, becoming blind and numb to anything other than our own wants, needs, or pain.

 

As a baby grows into a child it becomes increasingly responsive to external stimuli, like light, color, noise, music, touch… and through this it learns to interact with the world around it.  Eventually, these external forces begin to shape the child’s concept of life and identity.  But as we grow in spiritual maturity, we’re called to become less responsive to what is seen (which is perishing), and more sensitive to what is unseen (which is eternal).

 

Young children tend to easily fall into covetousness when they see something they want, jealousy when someone else has what they want, and to have tantrums, when they don’t get what they want.  It is not a given that age and experience will cause us to grow past these things.  Often, we simply become more subtle in the ways we express them.

 

Children are also famous for their impatience and fertile imaginations, both of which can become powerful tools in the hands of the adversary.

 

Indeed, the scripture admonishes us to humbly esteem others above ourselves, to bless and serve those around us, and to be “quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry”.   It commands us not to covet, warns us against the “acts of the flesh” (including jealousy, selfish ambition, fits of rage) and reminds us that “self-control” is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. It tells us that we must cast down our imaginations, to learn to “wait on the Lord”, and to embrace patience as a reflection of Christ’s character.  Throughout the New Testament it speaks of the transformation that God desires to work in each of us, and He assures us that He is faithful to complete this good work that He’s begun in us.

 

It’s likely that none of us want to think of ourselves as being childish, but I sense the Lord challenging us to allow Him to reveal the “childish things” that we still need to put away.  To uncover those instances where we’ve become callous and numb to other people’s pain, or those circumstances that we’ve unwittingly become slaves to, or those things that we’re coveting and maybe even making into idols.  To show us those places within our heart where self-pity, jealousy, and bitterness dwell; and to expose the imaginings that have replaced the genuine prophetic vision He means to give us.

 

Like David did in the Psalms, we need to invite Him to examine our hearts.  “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.  See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting”.  Amen.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Last week my wife mentioned a sermon she’d heard about, “Scorekeeping”, which reminded me of something I’d written many years ago.  After scrounging around my notebook, I found it, and it seemed worth sharing.

Scorekeeping

 

Early in my walk with the Lord, I felt like He drew my attention to our very human tendency to keep score and/or to count the cost.  I believe that this trait is so naturally occurring in us, that most of us aren’t even conscious of the fact that we do it.

 

While we may not remember recording every little incident in our mental/emotional database, we can often recall them with amazing clarity when we feel like we’ve somehow been slighted.  These vivid recollections of what we’ve done for others, or what hasn’t been done for us, or what has been done to us, or what others got, or what we didn’t get… are all evidence that somewhere inside of us we’ve kept a pretty detailed ledger of these transactions.

 

We can often use the data from this internal record book as evidence to plead our case to others, or as a weapon against those we want to hurt, or as our excuse to withhold the love, support, and forgiveness God calls us to give.  It becomes the fuel for jealousy, covetousness, discouragement, slander and self-pity.  There is a natural tendency to want to keep these accounts balanced (e.g. I have given, therefore I am entitled to receive…) and to feel as though we’ve been victimized if they don’t, but as with so many other things in our human nature, this doesn’t really line up with God’s word.

 

If we were to be designated the scorekeeper for a football game, we’d first have to understand the point system.  We’d need to know that a field goal is worth 3 points, that a touchdown is worth 6 points, that a kicked point after touchdown is worth 1 point, that a conversion (i.e. a pass or run into the end zone) after a touchdown is worth 2 points…  Without that understanding, we couldn’t accurately understand or convey who was winning and who was losing.  It is the same in life; if we’re going to keep score, we better understand the point system, and as believers that understanding needs to come from our Creator.

 

As we look to His word, we can quickly see that our natural minds will likely score the game much different than our spiritual minds will.  The natural mind says that it is worth more if our good deeds are recognized and appreciated, while scripture says that it is more valuable if they’re not, because they then become an eternal treasure instead of a temporary one.  Our natural mind seeks to receive a blessing, while the spiritual mind understands that the blessing is in the giving.  The natural mind sees the cross as foolishness, while the spiritual mind sees it as the power of God.

 

Another way of expressing this dynamic is the metaphor of an account ledger.  Just like with a checkbook, every deposit and every withdrawal is recorded.  Once again our natural mind tends to want to make judgments about our state of being based on our account balance and again this comes in conflict with the ways of God.  The scripture is filled with passages that challenge this way of thinking.  We’re told not to return evil for the evil that is done to us; to bless those who persecute us and to love those who refuse to love us back.  Beyond telling us not to seek equality in these transactions, the Lord urges us not to even keep a record of them.

 

In the parable of the workers in the vineyard, the Master chastened the workers who complained that those hired in the final hour of the day were paid the same as they were.  He reminded them that He’d paid them a full day’s wage, just as they had agreed upon, and essentially told them not to be concerned with what He paid anyone else.  Jesus voiced much the same sentiment at the end of the Gospel of John, when Peter thought that John was promised something better than what he was; the Lord scolded him saying, “What is it to you, you must follow Me”.  Proverbs tells us that a stingy man is always thinking about the cost, while the epistles tell us that not only does love cover a multitude of sins, but that it also keeps no record of wrongdoing.

 

If we are going to be the people God destined us to be, we need to stop looking to this imaginary account balance for our sense of justice. Instead, we must trust that the God we serve is just and that His sovereignty is sufficient to ensure that justice will ultimately be served.  We need to remember that whatever measure we choose to use with others, is the measure that will be used with us.

 

The enemy of our souls wants us to believe that if we could get this imaginary score high enough that we’d find peace, joy & fulfillment; but the truth is that these things can only be found in the person of Jesus.  Keeping score and/or counting the cost keeps us focused on ourselves, our situations, our wounds, our failures and other people.  When we succumb to this way of living, our prayers can be reduced to reciting our score card to God (and anyone else who will listen), and we’ll ultimately forfeit the healing and provision His death gained for us.

 

If we really believe that Jesus paid a price that we could never repay, than we should have no need to count the cost.  Any price that we pay is a bargain compared to what we have received.  If we can grasp that truth, our scorecards and/or balance sheets, will become our testimonies.

Read Full Post »

 

In the first book of Kings, chapter 3 (verses 16-27), there is a story about two women, who lived in the same house, and who both had babies of similar age.  One night, one of the women inadvertently rolls over on her baby, killing it; and so she sneaks into the other woman’s room and exchanges her dead baby for the other woman’s live baby.  When this second woman wakes up in the morning, she sees the dead baby in her bed, but quickly realizes that it’s not her child.  Both women eventually wind up before King Solomon, claiming that the living baby is theirs.  Upon hearing their story, the King proposes the simple solution of cutting the baby in two, and giving each woman half.  At hearing this, one of the women concedes the fight, while the other says, “Neither I nor you shall have him.  Cut him in two!”

 

From their reaction, King Solomon deduces that the woman who wasn’t willing to allow the child to be destroyed was the real mother, but my concern is with this other woman.  It’s hard for me to fathom what allowed her to justify that destroying the child was somehow a better solution than yielding her position.  Maybe she was jealous that the other woman still had her baby, or maybe she couldn’t accept that she was no longer a mother, or maybe she was afraid of what people might think of her, or maybe she was filled with regret over the way her baby perished, or maybe she was offended that God allowed this to happen…  And while this story may seem rather extreme, I see situations like this all the time.  People who claim to love their family, but who would rather cut it in two than to yield their position.  Parents who claim to love their children, but who are willing to rip them apart rather than yield their position.  People who claim to treasure relationships, but who would rather sever them than to yield their position.  People who claim to be a body of believers, but who would rather split apart than to yield their position.

 

I am not suggesting that there aren’t legitimate reasons for some relationships and/or situations to come apart.  But I am saying that we need to be careful that we don’t become like the woman in this story; so entrenched in our position (e.g. jealousy, insecurity, woundedness, regret, offense) that we are willing to facilitate the destruction of the very thing we claim to care for.

Read Full Post »