Originally published Wednesday, 25 February 2015.
I have a condition.
It makes my heart pump.
My fists clench.
My pulse quicken.
It makes my eyes squeeze and my head shake.
It makes me frustrated and irritated.
Just when I think I have been healed from this plague, it shows up again. It doesn't seem to care that I am tired of it.
It doesn't seem to care that it burdens me.
It comes and tells me that I will be stuck with it forever.
That others will always be better off than me.
That God doesn't really have anything for me.
This condition is jealousy.
Just the other day, I visited a big, prominent and influential author's blog. I looked at it. I critiqued it. I analyzed it for flaws. I reviewed it for strengths. I judged its colors, its words, its layout, its stories and its (fill in the blank). I considered how unfair it is that she has so much, but I have so little.
...and you can see where this was leading me. What was meant to be a time of learning from this person, became a playground for judgement and envy to run wild.
My mind was reading,
but my heart was sliding right away from God.
My pride swung high,
only to swing low the next as I considered the reality of my sin.
Foot by foot, I climbed a ladder of inabilities,
where I perceived my inabilities from new heights.
Playgrounds of jealousy are not blacktops full of smiles, laughter and encouragement. Rather, these playgrounds, plain and simple, are dark, isolating and hurtful playgrounds - playgrounds where envy and discontentment hold hands and where the evil lurks.
Truly, dear friend, let me tell you a little secret: these playgrounds are places where the devil leads children of God astray. He entices them and grabs their hand only to lead them away from God's loving purposes. He takes them and focuses their hearts on prideful, conceited and worldly intentions. He pulls them right away from their loving Father and distracts them with a candy that never pleases.
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. (1 Pet. 5:8)
Let's join hands, scream out to our Father, and run the other way.
The bottom line, my friends, is that when we covet another's gifts, we end up ungrateful for our ours. We negate our all-loving, all-powerful and all-giving Father, who has a unique plan - that he created beforehand just for us.
Instead, we look at him and say, "I think your plan for that person is better."
Do you notice the pride here?
We debate and act irate.
The sad thing is that we never win when we compare our average with another's "amazing";
it rips us apart.
The truth is - God is not done with us yet. He has his own plans for us. He is the only one who knows how our story ends - and in his perfection, he has crafted it - from beginning to end.
"What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived" -- the things God has prepared for those who love him... (1 Cor. 2:9)
No two people have the same path.
No two people are prepared in the same way.
No two people are given the same insights.
No two people does God uniquely answer the same way.
No two people will be led down the same extraordinary roads.
But, both people will be led down amazing roads - if they love God.
It is not a game of one gets and the other doesn't. Our God can - and will - give uniquely to both.
So why do we look at each other and want to be the same - and get the same?
Why do we think he gives to one - but he will leave us with none?
When we do this, we look to them and see all they have,
but not all they are dealing with.
We look at their apparent gifts
and trash ours.
We look to the light of their glory
and hate our story.
We look to them as objects,
and miss their pain.
When the disciples questioned who among them would be the greatest, Jesus answered "But among you it will be different. Those who are the greatest among you should take the lowest rank, and the leader should be like a servant." (Luke 22:26)
Jesus pulls us near, he draws us close to whisper:
It is not about greatness.
It is not about goals.
It is not about progress.
Position - or lack thereof.
Who has what.
It is solely about Jesus Christ.
It is solely about his glory.
It is solely about his story.
It is all about his will.
Not our skill.
It is all for him, through him and by him that we are where we are today.
He's the only way. In him, we can rest and stay. He will guide us day by day.
It is always been about least of these.
Jesus runs to the weary. He lifts the weak. He comforts the heartbroken. He gives power to the powerless. He exalts the humble. May we always realize our status as "least of these".
May we reside in the place of humble adoration and humble exaltation of others.
We are lowly, he is lifted.
We are small, he is high.
We are servants, he is master.
We are created, he is Creator.
All things pale in comparison to him.
And the more we see him, the more we see life - meaningful life. We see the one who provides us all things according to his glorious riches. We have no need to look elsewhere because all we need is alive in us.