Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Tackling That Green-Eyed Monster

I had the opportunity to be offended, jealous or envious at least three times today (Sunday)...all in under an hour. And all in church. It wasn't anything anyone necessarily said or did to me directly.  It was more how I perceived something. "She was chosen to do this...I never was."  "He was asked to do that. Nobody asked me and I could do it just as well."  The way someone spoke to me at a time I didn't want to be interrupted. Hearing the news that someone was doing something along the same lines as something I was doing. Many of these things involved other people using their gifts. Instead of rejoicing with them and for them, I found myself in a horror film facing a monster...the one we've heard about and often encountered throughout our lives, the one Shakespeare called the Green-Eyed Monster of Envy. Or was it Jealousy?  What's the difference?

The Free Online Dictionary defines envy as a feeling of discontented or resentful longing aroused by someone else's possessions, quality or luck; desire to have a possession, quality or other desirable attribute belonging to someone else.  Jealousy is a defined as the state of being suspicious or fearful of being displaced by a rival; being resentful or vindictive through envy; being fearful or wary of being supplanted (replaced); apprehensive of losing affection or position.

There is a difference. Envy is wishing we had something someone else possesses.  Jealousy is trying to hold on to the same something we have that someone else has too.  Envy is more of a wistful feeling.  Jealousy is a state.  It implies rivalry, competition. Envy is, "I want what you have." Jealousy is, "You got what I have. And it's not fair.  I deserve that spot. You don't."  Envy longs for.  Jealousy wants to destroy.  Envy might trigger insecurity.  Jealousy triggers fear, resentment and mistrust.  Envy leads to jealousy. Green-eyed, or otherwise, it is a horror-film sized monster.

Remember, I said that I had an opportunity?  That's right, an opportunity.  We are always offered a choice. No one can "make" us feel a certain way.  It's always our choice. I could choose to be offended.  I could choose to be envious.  I could choose to be jealous.  I certainly felt all those things.  Fear. Insecurity. Resentment. Anger, frustration and shame at feeling fear, insecurity and resentment!  I was aware of the spirit of competition and rivalry rising up in me.  And I took the bait.  I recognized it for what it was.  I felt the emotions.  And I hated it. The acts of the sinful nature are obvious:  Sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies and the like (Galatians 5:19-20).

Then I remembered the very things I blogged about this week! Being content where you are. Ignoring the annoying chatter of channel noise-interference and squelching.  Laughing a little at your situation. Paying attention to the signs, especially the one that says, "This way to the dead end.".  And finally, I said, "STOP! You'll have to take that up with my boss. I'm not listening!"

Like a fish who takes the bait, then realizes that he's been hooked, I wiggled to be free from being caught in the snare. The snare of satan.  The snare of offense.  The snare of envy and jealousy.  I walked that path in the past.  I was so unsure of the gifts that God gave me, so insecure in those gifts, that I tried to push open doors that were only slightly open.  When someone else was blessed and placed in a position that I wanted, I feared that there wouldn't be room for me.  As if there were only so many spots on the team! Jealousy is fearing that there is not enough room for me, that the blessings will run out. And that never happens in God's kingdom. Jealousy is childish! When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child.  When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me...and now these three things remain:  faith, hope and love.  But the greatest of these is love (I Corinthians 13:11-13)

It's not enough to simply say, "I won't be jealous.  I'm a "grown-up" in God's kingdom.  We can't overcome these things on our own.  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.  Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit." (Galatians 5:22-24) We need to crucify those feelings, those sins, and keep in step with the Holy Spirit.  Replace the thoughts.  When I feel jealousy and envy rising up in me, I can choose to replace those feelings, those thoughts with love, because that is the greatest gift.  I can choose to be happy for that person. That's grown-up thinking.

Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other (Galatians 5:1:26).

Wait...what? Conceited?  I thought I was done here! Yes, conceit.  Those other, innocent parties weren't the conceited ones, provoking me to jealousy.  I was the conceited one, provoking myself to jealousy.  Oh, yuck!  How dare I think I am any better than anyone else!  How dare I think I deserve their position!  As long as I remain in that thinking, I will remain in stagnancy. And I never want to be stagnant in my walk with the Lord.

May we always make wise choices when the snare of the "green-eyed monster" attempts to entrap us. May we always walk in love and acceptance of one another. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit...

Blessings Along the Path,

Song of the Day:  (I love searching YouTube and finding something like this:  An obscure and unrecognized artist with a great gift to share!

Love is the Greatest Gift (Christopher Taylor)

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