How do you handle jealousy?
Now, don't pretend that you never get jealous. I wouldn't believe you. There's a reason why the 10 Commandments include, "You shall not covet..." I think one of the reasons Cain kills his brother Abel in Genesis 4, is out of his jealousy towards his brother. God accepts Abel's offering and extend his favor to Abel. But God rejects Cain's and Cain does not receive God's favor.
Jealousy is rooted in our sinful nature. We see what someone else has, and if it's better than what we have we become jealousy and desire what they have. We see it throughout scripture and we see it in the world around us. And we see it every time it flashes it's ugly face at us when we look in the mirror.
So if jealousy is a problem, what do we do when it rises to the surface of our hearts?
As a pastor, I sometimes find myself look at what the other guys are doing. Bigger churches, doing bigger things, seemingly getting bigger results. I wrote a blog for a youth ministry resource that discussed why it was a bad idea to copy what they "other guys" were doing in ministry, because it too often led to ministry jealousy. (You can read the article here, WHY NOT TO DO WHAT THE OTHER GUYS ARE DOING? - YouthMinistry360.com.)
In John chapter 3:22-30. the Apostle John, shares how John the Baptists disciples grew jealous over the growing ministry of Jesus and His disciples. They complained to John that, "everyone was going to him (Jesus)." They got caught up in what they saw happening around them, quick success, big crowds, maybe a little popularity. I mean, before Jesus, every one was going to them! And they couldn't handle the fact, that someone else was doing what they were doing, and doing it better.
I think the same can be said of us, especially if we are in ministry. With the abundance of books suggesting model after model of do this, don't this, programming, we have become a culture of, "Let's see what they're doing. If it's working, let's copy it!" The problem is, if someone is having success in what they're doing, there's a good chance that the success is coming from God. It's pretty difficult to copy what God is doing.
In the case of John's ministry, God was doing something new and exciting. In fact, John tells us that. In verse 27, John says, “A person can receive only what is given them from heaven." John recognized his role in God's big story. And he reminds his disciples what that role is in verses 28 through 30. He wan't sent to be the ONE, but to announce the ONE's coming.
Both in life and ministry, there is a danger when we compare ourselves to the people and ministries around. When we shift our focus from what God's in doing in our lives to what God is doing in their lives, we can begin to ask, "Why isn't God doing that in ourselves?"
John stressed to his disciples that his role was only to prepare and declare. And in reality, isn't that what we are called to do, prepare and declare? When we base our lives, our ministry or our success on what we do compared to what others do, we miss the very things God is doing in our lives.
Success in the life of a believer is not found in how big we make ourselves, but in how big we make Jesus in our lives. Don't let jealousy over someone else's life or someone else's ministry steal away the realities and successes of what God is doing in your life!
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