As we face the urge to compete against the world, as we see jealousy’s consequences play out around us—maybe it is a family member that isn’t happy with your success so they’ve cut you out or tried to cut you down to size, maybe it is a friendship that is in tatters when one surpasses the other, how do we do the dirty job of junking jealousy? From Genesis 37 to Psalm 37–
Junking Jealousy—(Psalm 37:3-7a) Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. 4 Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. 5 Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: 6 He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun. 7 Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; Jealous isn’t something that is new, it was present when Adam and Eve were tempted in the Garden—God had something they thought they deserved, Cain killed Abel because he was jealous, the Hebrews are warned in the 10 commandments against coveting (envy), yet Psalm 37 gives us practical tools for this dirty job of dealing with jealousy in a godly rather than ghastly way. Trust, delight, and commit. 3 words calling for relationship over religion. Each word embodies a thriving aspect of relationship–we can only trust someone we know, delighting requires dedication, and commitment continues even when it is challenging. Instead of trying to live someone else’s life, delight with God to find out what life he has in store for you.Jealousy tells us if only we had the thing we covet that we would be happy. Harvard each year for decades have done a happiness index, tracking the happiness of their students. Not surprisingly, they found happiness had less to do with the amount of money in the bank or power of the family, but joy is found in coming back to principles that work. Christ came to earth not only to cover our sins and reunite us with the Father, but to reveal to us a way of life that works in the here and now: that strengthens families rather than severs them, uses money as a tool rather than an a scorecard, that calls mankind to something higher than their base instincts.
God’s love for you does not waver, he hasn’t forgotten you when someone else gets the promotion, or your relationship ends—he shows us through the cross his love is not contingent on our goodness, but on his grace. A group of botanists went on an expedition into a hard-to-reach location in the Alps, searching for new varieties of flowers. One day as a scientist looked through his binoculars, he saw a beautiful, rare species growing at the bottom of a deep ravine. To reach it, someone would have to be lowered into that gorge. Noticing a local youngster standing nearby, the man asked him if he would help them get the flower. The boy was told that a rope would be tied around his waist and the men would then lower him to the floor of the canyon. Excited yet apprehensive about the adventure, the youngster peered thoughtfully into the chasm. “Wait,” he said, “I’ll be back,” and off he dashed. When he returned, he was accompanied by an older man. Approaching the head botanist, the boy said, “I’ll go over the cliff now and get the flower for you, but this man must hold on to the rope. He’s my dad!” -Our Daily Bread, 1983.
God is also at times described in scripture as being jealous. Not for something that isn’t his, but for something that was from the beginning his. His jealousy his is rightful desire to hold the rope of our lives that we sometimes entrust others. Jealousy drives us to vindicate ourselves, to tear others down, to get what isn’t ours, but Jesus devotes himself to vindicating us! He reminds us that as we are invited back into the family of God, before the throne of God, that our inheritance is far greater in God. Jesus vindicated us through the curse of the cross, Jesus vindicates us in our guilt of sin by going before us to the Father, and Jesus vindicates us by taking on the dirtiest job of all— defeating sin. This week I want you to be mindful when jealous creeps into the picture, and be ready to turn it over to the Lord, delight in his blessings, and wait on his timing and he calls you out to the next opportunity to enjoy your eternal vindication!
After all, Jesus did the dirtiest job of all so you could be made clean!