"But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us."
2 Corinthians 4:7 NIV

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Wages of Jealousy

I hate jealousy. I hate it most of all in me. Why can’t I simply be happy for someone else’s success instead of secretly wishing the same would happen for me? And why do I think it’s unfair when life is kinder to the other guy than it is to me?

God does not excuse this petty jealousy. He exposes it. Like He did in this parable of Jesus:

For the Kingdom of Heaven is like the landowner who went out early one morning to hire workers for his vineyard. He agreed to pay the normal daily wage and sent them out to work. At nine o’clock in the morning he was passing through the marketplace and saw some people standing around doing nothing. So he hired them, telling them he would pay them whatever was right at the end of the day. So they went to work in the vineyard. At noon and again at three o’clock he did the same thing. At five o’clock that afternoon he was in town again and saw some more people standing around. He asked them, “Why haven’t you been working today?” They replied, “Because no one hired us.” The landowner told them, “Then go out and join the others in my vineyard.” That evening he told the foreman to call the workers in and pay them, beginning with the last workers first. When those hired at five o’clock were paid, each received a full day’s wage. When those hired first came to get their pay, they assumed they would receive more. But they, too, were paid a day’s wage. When they received their pay, they protested to the owner, “Those people worked only one hour, and yet you’ve paid them just as much as you paid us who worked all day in the scorching heat.” He answered one of them, “Friend, I haven’t been unfair! Didn’t you agree to work all day for the usual wage? Take your money and go. I wanted to pay this last worker the same as you. Is it against the law for me to do what I want with my money? Should you be jealous because I am kind to others?” Matthew 20:1-15 NLT

I can’t help but question the order in which the landowner paid his workers. Don’t you just know if he had settled first with the workers he’d hired at sunrise, they would have gone home happy?

But no. They had to wait around only to be disappointed.

Disappointed by their “fair” wages, and reprimanded by the haunting question the landowner handed them along with those wages.

Should you be jealous because I am kind to others?

Honestly, I’m thrilled God is kind. That’s why I hate my pathetic auto-response of jealousy.

So what’s a girl to do?

Shortly before Jesus said his final goodbyes to the disciples, he told Peter what would happen to him at the end of his life.

Peter’s immediate response was to wonder about someone else’s destiny.

Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, "Lord, who is going to betray you?") When Peter saw him, he asked, "Lord, what about him?"

Jesus answered, "If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me." John 21:20-22 NIV

Indeed, when it comes to God’s plans for anyone else’s life, what is that to me? His plans for my own life are mysterious enough.

So what’s a girl to do?

I will do my best to heed the words of Jesus to Peter, 
“You must follow me.”

So to the God who knit me together in my mother’s whom, to the God who has plans for me—to prosper me and not to harm me, to the God who is the author and perfecter of my faith—of my very life, hear my prayer:

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life. Psalm 139:23-24 NLT

Because if I’m on that path, what could I possibly be jealous of?

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