Tag Archives: jealousy

Dumb As An Ox (Psalm 73)

In our economy, we have come to believe that good should be rewarded, and bad should be punished. Even in some Christian circles, it’s believed that obedience should result in material blessings and disobedience should result in suffering. Sounds logical.

Even David struggled with his own sense of fair-play. When David looked at the success of people who had rejected God, he went as far as to say:

Surely in vain have I kept my heart pure; in vain have I washed my hands in innocence. (vs 13)

The old pity party raises its ugly head. Been there. Done that.

But David comes to his senses and said something that made me not only laugh out loud, it got me thinking. Look at what he says in verses 21-22:

When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you.

Yes, God, when I find myself jealous of the prosperity of people who don’t give you a thought, I’m being ridiculous. I’m as dumb as an ox, as silly as a goose.

The truth is, those people who reject God, yet seem to have it all, are on a slippery slope, heading for destruction, and they don’t even know it. What looks like success and happiness is, at best, temporary. And probably, most likely, it is a smoke screen for what is going on within. Money, and things, are not what we were created for.

On the other hand, I have God Himself! It is God who holds me, gives me direction, and blesses me in ways the world cannot understand. And I am heading toward eternity with God in a place too wonderful for words.

Whom have I in heaven but you? And being with you, I desire nothing on earth. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (vv 25-26)

 

 

No Excuse (Joshua 8-9)

It’s devastating to see the lengths to which jealousy can take a person. Abimelech may not have been treated equally to his brothers. His mother was a slave. Maybe the seventy sons of Gideon’s legal wives bullied their half-brother. Maybe Gideon himself showed favoritism toward his legitimate sons. It’s possible Gideon’s seventy sons lived in luxury while Abimelech lived like a slave. We don’t know the details. But after Papa Gideon died, Abimelech showed his true colors.

He convinced the citizens of Shechem to make him ruler. Then his first order of business was to publicly execute his seventy brothers. I wonder if Abimelech felt vindicated after that, or if killing his brothers brought him a sense of peace. Let’s just say, I doubt it.

I wonder if any of us reading this today are harboring ill feelings about the way we were raised, the way we were treated by our middle school classmates, the fact we were overlooked for a promotion at work, or that our neighbor’s kid is captain of the football team, and ours is last chair saxophone in the high school band.

What do we do with those feeling of inequity, or jealousy, or resentment? Do we feed them? Grow them? Use them throughout the day to justify a bad temper or depression?

I’m projecting because the Bible doesn’t tell us Abimelech’s motivation behind the murder of his brothers. But common sense tells us he didn’t act the way he did out of love, or from a place of forgiveness.

There isn’t one of us reading this who hasn’t been mistreated or treated unfairly, who hasn’t been bullied or been made to feel inferior some time in our lives. Yet some of us still feel the anger, resentment, and jealousy years later. Some of us let our past justify our present, which causes even more ill feelings. Which can lead to destructive behavior.

The Apostle Paul knew what it was like to be mistreated. He knew what it was like to be homeless, penniless, hated and physically abused. Maybe in some people’s minds, he had a right to get even, or to feel anger or jealousy toward his abusers. But hear what Paul had to say about it all:

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. (2 Corinthians 8-9)

Paul didn’t have time for a pity party. He didn’t feel the need to get even. In fact, he called his abuse “treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God, and not from us.” (verse 7)

Your past may have been truly awful. Some people imagine childhood abuse, you may have really lived it. People may actually treat you unfairly, actually do mean things to you. But none of that is an excuse for you inflicting harm on anyone else, even those guilty of hurting you.

In fact, none of us has an excuse for hurting others. Not with the words we say or the things we do. And holding on to jealousy or anger or bitterness is only hurting you. You do that to you.

We who know Jesus can, with Paul, look at the inequities of our lives and say confidently that we are not crushed, not in despair, not abandoned, or destroyed. Why? Because we have the Spirit of God living in us, and He is none of those things. In fact, the Spirit brings love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control with Him.

The Bible tells us that “all things work together for good” for those of us who love God. Do you believe that? I believe with all my heart that the good God brings out of our difficult circumstances is Himself. And we as His children have the privilege of revealing His “all-surpassing power” when we love instead of hate, when we do good to those who harm us, when we forgive as we have been forgiven.

Those of us who have the Spirit of God living in us have no excuse to do otherwise.

 

August 28; Spiritually Speaking

Ezekiel 37-38

God is speaking to Gog, an enemy of Israel. He tells the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal that He is going to bless His children. The Jews will live in peace, have riches livestock and goods – and Gog won’t be able to handle it.

In fact, God who sees the future, sees Gog look at the blessings that are Israel’s and an evil thought will come to his mind. His jealousy will reveal itself in an attack on the Jews. God tells the enemy prince that will cost him his own life.

It’s true that when some people see others prosper, jealousy and anger rear their ugly heads. The blessed become a target, “If I can’t have those things, neither can they.”

Now as often happens, God diverts my attention from the material to the spiritual when I read His Word. Spiritually speaking, God blesses His obedient children with peace and joy the world cannot understand. Our genuine smiles are like salt in wounds to people who are holding onto their sin, and are under the convicting hand of God.

Their attempt to drag us down to their level might start out as name calling: “Goody Two-Shoes,” or “Holier Than Thou.” It might progress to slander when they call us bigots, racists, homophobes. It can escalate to lies, law suits, discrimination, even bodily harm because unhappy people resent happiness in others.

Jesus said we can expect to be hated because people hated Him, too. Hated. Not ignored or disliked. Hate is a powerful, active emotion that leads to trouble. Expect it.

But God also has laid on my heart this: if we are genuinely His, God will fight our battles for us and we will have the victory. He will never leave or forsake us, we will continue with His peace and joy and strength and love no matter what is thrown at us.

However, if we are hated because we are hypocritical, untouchable, unloving, then their hatred of us just might be the discipline God will use to get our attention and draw us back to Him.

Spiritually speaking, we are in a war zone. Spiritually speaking we are targets of the enemy. And spiritually speaking, we who know the Lord are on the winning side.

June 10; Walk By Faith, Not By Sight

Ecclesiastes 11-12; Psalms 73, 88; I Kings 11:41-43, 14:21; 2 Chronicles 9:29-31, 12:13-14

Solomon tried so hard to find meaning, contentment, and happiness. But he was looking in all the wrong places. Asaph almost lost his religion because he, too, was looking at the wrong things. He admitted he was jealous of evil people who prospered while he couldn’t catch a break.

“…in vain have I kept my heart pure…” (Psalm 73:13)

If we walk by sight, if we keep our focus on other people and circumstances, we will be as frustrated and depressed as Solomon, and as ready to give up as Asaph.

We who know the Lord, walk by faith in Him who is faithful. We keep our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. We live to love Him, instead of living to have Him make our lives easy.

Solomon himself said that fearing God and obeying Him is everything.

And it is.

Psalms 73-78; It’s Worth It

Have you ever watched an awards show on TV, or read the news about a million dollar athlete who beat his wife, or sat back and watched that dishonest coworker get all the promotions, while you struggle to make ends meet? You think, “They have it all, and they blatantly deny God. Why do I bother?”

The psalmist was thinking along those lines in Psalm 73. He admitted he almost lost his way, “For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.” (vs 3)

Then in verse 13 he adds, “Surely in vain have I kept my heart pure; in vain have I washed my hands in innocence.

Is he right? Are we who love and obey God foolishly living meaningless lives?

The psalmist says that was exactly what he was thinking “till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny.” When the psalmist turned his eyes toward heaven, he recognized the truth; that this life is temporary. Another life is ahead.

Psalm 78 recounts the ways God worked in the lives of the children of Israel; how He blessed their obedience, punished their disobedience, and forgave them every time they repented.

He (God) remembered that they were but flesh, a passing breeze that does not return.” (78:39)

That describes your life, too. Life on Earth is just a passing breeze, and once it’s passed, there is no coming back. No do-overs. This is your moment to decide your eternity.

Is your neighbor’s bank account that important in light of eternity? I guarantee when you stand before God, He’s not going to ask you about your neighbor.

Many people seem to want the good life, with no health problems, to have without earning, or to get ahead at all cost. They measure their happiness or success according to the things they have. You know them, health and wealth are their goals.

I’ve heard the question asked: “What good is it to live the good life, to accumulate things, and die a peaceful death, if death ushers you into a painful eternity, void of any goodness, light, or hope?

I encourage you to read these psalms today and let them remind you that God is a just judge. Your impatience to see wicked people get what you think they deserve is God’s patience while He works in their hearts for eternity’s sake. It’s never about the things, or the success, or what you perceive as their happiness. It’s about a loving God who died for them and wants to call them His own.

Take your eyes off people. Quit telling God how You think He ought to be handling wicked people. Throw off jealousy. Those things are robbing you of the peace and joy that God wants to give you as His child. It’s robbing you of a right relationship with your Savior, with our loving God who is anxious to welcome you home to an eternity that is so much better than anything– ANYTHING — this world can offer.

Trust Him. It’s worth it.

Numbers 12; Without My Two Cents

Moses’ own siblings, Aaron and Miriam, were talking about Moses behind his back. They complained about his wife, and were jealous of his following. And, like most gossip, their complaints got back to Moses.

How did he react? The Bible tells us “Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.” (12:3)

Sounds like Moses “turned the other cheek.” There is no record that he defended himself. Oh, say something against God and Moses would be in your face. Say something about Moses, and he’ll either ignore you, or go to God about it.

As it turned out, God handled it without Moses doing a thing.

It’s unrealistic to think, especially for those of you in positions of authority, that everyone is going to love and/or agree with you all the time. (Ask President Trump). But I’ve found that often, when I react to gossip, or try to defend myself, I can make matters worse.

That’s not to say that there aren’t times when God will prompt us to speak up against gossip or slander or threats of some kind. Then, I believe, He’ll give us the words to say to bring about a solution that brings glory to Himself. But unless I know He is nudging me toward action, I’d like to react like Matthew Henry says Moses reacted: He, as a deaf man, heard not.

I want to learn from Moses’ example. I want to learn when to just keep my mouth shut. I want to learn that if God thinks it’s necessary to defend me, He’s able to do that without my two cents.

November 29 – What Matters Is Jesus

I Corinthians 1-4

The Corinthian church had hit a rough  patch. In fact, it sounds like they were on the verge of a split. So Paul wrote a letter that gets to the heart of the matter. Jealousy. Pride.

“Stop it,” he told them. “Who cares who dunked you in the water? It doesn’t matter. What matters is Jesus.

“Who cares who is seeing people come to Christ first? It doesn’t matter. Some people plant seed, others reap. What matters is Jesus.

“Who cares who is honored, or has the best pew in church? It doesn’t matter. We are all servants of God. No one brings anything to the table they have achieved on their own.”

For who regards you as superior? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive, why do you boast as if you had not received it? (4:7)

What matters is Jesus. Paul seems to be telling us to get over ourselves. Keep you eyes on Jesus. YOU be obedient.  YOU be wise with the wisdom God gives. YOU be foolish in the eyes of the world.

Who cares what people think? What matters is Jesus.

 

May 7 – I’m Quite The Bowler

2 Samuel 7, I Chronicles 17

Years ago I was having lunch with several co-workers in the teacher’s lounge of the school where we taught. One of our fellow teachers walked in a little late, and quietly sat on the couch instead of at the table with the rest of us. The look on her face told us her morning had not gone well.

The night before, I had read an article in our local newspaper about this woman’s husband bowling his second perfect game of the year. It was a nice article, and included a picture of him that took up almost half a page.

So I said, “That was a nice write-up in the paper about (John). He’s quite the bowler, isn’t he?”

She glared at me and replied, “I’M quite the bowler!” She gathered her things and abruptly left the lounge.

King David wanted to build a temple for God. It was a passionate desire. But God had other plans. He told David that another king, David’s son, would have that privilege instead.

What was David’s reaction? He was excited for his son. He gave thanks to God. He didn’t express a hint of jealousy or disappointment.

It’s really not human nature to sit back and let someone else get noticed for something you know you can do at least as well. Maybe you complete a project at work, and your boss takes the credit. Or you witness faithfully to your neighbor, only to have someone else pray with her to accept the Lord.

Maybe you sat first chair clarinet every year from eighth grade through college, only to have your dad tell you how talented your sister is. (Sorry, Kathy, for all those years of resentment. The truth is you ARE a talented woman. I am so proud of you, and love being your big sister.)

I think having David’s attitude is much more pleasing to God than mine or my co-worker’s attitudes were. Don’t waste time being jealous of anyone for any reason. Jealousy is a sin, and it keeps us from the joyful relationship God wants us to have with Him.

I’ve come to realize that the only praise I want to hear is God, seeing me wearing the righteousness of His Son, saying, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

April 26- Pity-Party Free Zone

Psalms 73, 77-78

Sometimes we might be tempted to throw a pity party for ourselves when we see the successful, easy lifestyle of wicked, ungodly people. Most days we know how blessed we are. We can even admit we know that what we see on the surface of anyone’s life often masks heartache and pain.

But seriously, it would be nice to experience wealth on the scale of some who seem to have everything going for them. At least for a day or so. Right?

The psalmists asks if he has kept his heart pure in vain. Have I? The psalmists also reminds us that thinking those thoughts are “senseless and ignorant.” (73:22)

Read verses 25-28 of the 73rd psalm for an attitude check. Instead of throwing that pity party, let these verses be your encouragement.

“But as for me, the nearness of God is my good…”

The nearness of God is really all I need, and it blesses me more than any dollar amount.

My heart is a pity-party free zone.

 

Feb 28 – Dear God, Waa, Waa, Waa

Numbers 11-13

Do you ever complain to God? Do you ever tell Him He’s not fair because your life isn’t like that person’s down the street? Or you wish you had a husband like Suzie’s? Or that you deserve that promotion at work?

Be careful, dear one. God just might give you what you’re crying about.

The Jews were tired of manna. Give us meat, they cried! We want meat!! They went as far as to tell God that, at least while they were still in Egypt, they had plenty of meat.

So God sent meat. Lots of meat. Quail surrounded the camp, and everyone gathered bunches. Finally, they ate their fill of meat, and had plenty leftovers besides.

But the meat they demanded from the LORD ended up making many of them sick. Some died as a result.

Has anyone ever told you to be careful what you wish for? I’d go a step further and say, be careful what you’re complaining to God about.

You might not know that the guy down the street who you’re so jealous of is dealing with an addiction. You might not know that Suzie’s husband, who is the kids’ soccer coach and always brings Suzie flowers, belittles and mistreats her behind closed doors. You might not realize the promotion that went to someone else, would have placed you next to a coworker who would have broken up your marriage.

I don’t think this passage in Numbers is telling us not to pray about things we’d like. God said we could make our requests known. But I think the lesson here is to be careful about making demands.

Philippians 4:6&7 says: Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

You know, I think I’ll trust God to handle the details of my life.