Dirty Jobs: Relationship Repellent

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I know it is easy to say you aren’t in competition with others, when it feels like we are—pastors aren’t exempt—if you go to a church conference the first question usually asked, “how big is your church?” –Why are you thinking of joining? It is a pecking order. You’ve probably seen the bumper sticker that reads: He who dies with the most stuff wins, but jealousy doesn’t offer us any real hope of winning in the future, it actually is…

Relationship Repellent (Gen. 37: 17b-20) So Joseph went after his brothers and found them near Dothan. 18 But they saw him in the distance, and before he reached them, they plotted to kill him. 19 “Here comes that dreamer!” they said to each other. 20 “Come now, let’s kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns and say that a ferocious animal devoured him. Then we’ll see what comes of his dreams.”

Jealousy for the brothers starts to blot out or block any opportunity for a loving relationship. They are ready to permanently severe themselves from Joseph. In many ways, when we remember the family tree, jealousy had become a way of life for Jacob’s family. Remember, Jacob had married two sisters, Leah and Rachel, but really only loved the younger sister Rachel. To make matters worse, having children was a valued and worthy position, so Rachel who was barren for a time offered her maidservant to her husband trying to compete against the seemingly perpetual fertile Leah. Then Leah offered her maidservant. Factions had been made, the family fractured, as each person bemoaned what the other had and it threatened to devour them.Two shopkeepers were bitter rivals. Their stores were directly across the street from each other, and they would spend each day keeping track of each others business. If one got a customer, he would smile in triumph at his rival. One night a genie appeared to one of the shopkeepers in a dream and said, “I will give you anything you ask, but whatever you receive, your competitor will receive twice as much. Would you be rich? You can be very rich, but he will be twice as wealthy. Do you wish to live a long and healthy life? You can, but his life will be longer and healthier. What is your desire?”

The man frowned, thought for a moment, and then said, “Here is my request: Strike me blind in one eye!” Jealousy leads us down a strange path.

It did to Clayton Lush who seemingly had a great life. He was an athlete, playing rugby for his hometown team; he was talented carpenter even having his own television show which brought in a lot of business. He was able to become more involved with mentoring programs and volunteering for charities. Life was good. The only problem was he envisioned a life that was even more enjoyable. The life he had built was hard work, and he noticed that one of his acquaintances had everything without having to work. The envy was so great, that before he knew it he was being arrested for his small part in a very big sophisticated drug ring. The judge forced him to turn over $2million dollars in assets, everything from his business, everything earned through his television show.   Jealousy is so dangerous in that it makes us want or feel like we need a life that doesn’t actually exist. It contaminates contentment.

As J.R. Ward rightfully declared in the book Dark Love, “Welcome to the wonderful world of jealousy, he thought. For the price of admission, you get a splitting headache, a nearly irresistible urge to commit murder, and an inferiority complex. Yippee.” As Joseph’s story progressed look what his brothers found waiting: So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe—the richly ornamented robe he was wearing—and they took him and threw him into the cistern…As they sat down to eat their meal, they looked up and saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead…Judah said to his brothers, “What will we gain if we kill our brother and cover up his blood? Come, let’s sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay our hands on him… His brothers found the same urge to kill, same wrestling with how to handle things, and same complex that they just didn’t measure up—but as they sold him they were certain he was as good as dead. Jealousy and envy both are built on a myth that we should have more, but leaves us with less! When Joseph’s brothers brought back the bloodied robe doctored up to look like he had been killed by a ferocious animal Jacob, “tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and mourned for his son many days. All his sons and daughters came to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted. “No,” he said, “in mourning will I go down to the grace to my son.”…Their jealousy had driven them to action—and this wasn’t supposed to be how it went, Joseph’s loss was supposed to mean their gain!

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