Jealousy or Praise
“Dave, you won’t believe it.” (A friend was calling that goes to a large church in our area) “Remember the challenge our pastor gave on Vision Sunday to raise eight million dollars so that we can build a new extension site?” Before I could respond, his excitement blurted out, “Well, millions more flowed in. A lot more than our pastor’s initial challenge. Our first phase will be a much bigger auditorium than we thought.”
Now I should respond like this, “Praise the Lord! That’s wonderful. I can hardly wait to hear about all those who will come to know Jesus in that area and have the opportunity to hear solid, practical bible teaching that will move them to impact the community.” Instead, I find myself thinking, “Lord, that pastor is one of my old classmates. Why are you using him so powerfully and blessing his ministry? Can’t you send just a little of that blessing this way?”
This attitude and these words are deadly. This is cloaked jealousy in the form of a pious, angry prayer—a prayer where I’m coveting another’s position and success. During Jesus’ last week in Jerusalem, Matthew presents how this attitude moved the religious leaders in Jerusalem to conspire together to bring Jesus down.
Right after Jesus overturned the tables in the Temple, when the priests and scribes saw Him give sight to blind eyes and strong legs to the lame, instead of joining the children shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David!”, they became indignant. “Jesus, don’t you hear what these children are saying?” Jesus simply quoted Psalm 8, “Out, of the mouth of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise.” When I went back to Psalm 8 and read this verse in context I discovered that God defeats His strongest enemies by the praise of His weakest family members.
When my friend bubbles about the Lord’s provision for his local church, I need to turn away from the indignant jealousy of the religious leaders and join the children in humbly, praising Jesus.
“LORD, protect me from being jealous, especially when I see you blessing my peers. Expose this malignancy in my soul. Move me to immediately confess it, allow your Spirit to destroy it, and rest in the personal plans you have for Mary and me.”
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