01 Nov The Pit of Jealousy
Having an older brother was always great, except on Christmas day. We would be opening presents, tossing shiny wrapping paper everywhere, and looking for devices we could steal batteries out of to use in our new gifts.
After all the presents were opened, and we were sitting around, I would start to look at what my brother got. Every year, it ended the same way, “HEY! You got a ______!” (Fill in the blank with the toy of that year).
We’ve all been there. Either it was with your sibling, your best friend in school, or your coworker in the office.
It’s been several years since my brother and I were sitting in the middle of a wrapping paper storm on Christmas, but the jealousy is still there, just in a different form. Instead of worrying about who has a new toy, gets to stay out later, or who gets a bigger allowance, now it’s a bigger, more dangerous comparison.
Now, it’s more about paychecks, families, security, potential, power, and more. I watch my coworkers and neighbors with their “shiny toys,” and I can feel my heart becoming bitter, just like it did as a kid, but now it’s deeper and stronger. Regardless of who the person is or what the thing is, jealousy can twist your feelings about a sibling, a friend, a parent, or—most importantly—your view of God.
“Regardless of who the person is or what the thing is, jealousy can twist your feelings about a sibling, a friend, a parent, or—most importantly—your view of God.”
Growing up in church, I’d heard the story of Joseph and his coat in Sunday school dozens of times (usually coupled with a felt board and cutouts). The point of the story always revolved around Joseph.
Now when I read through the story, I see myself through the eyes of the brothers. I can identify with their jealousy and just imagine them grumbling about their father, Jacob.
“Jacob loved Joseph more than any of his other children because Joseph had been born to him in his old age. So one day Jacob had a special gift made for Joseph—a beautiful robe. But his brothers hated Joseph because their father loved him more than the rest of them. They couldn’t say a kind word to him.” —Genesis 37:3-4
How many times have I thrown a snide comment or even just ignored someone because I was jealous?
I find myself saying, “They don’t go to church, and they’re not serving God, but look at what they have!” Sure, I’m not physically throwing anyone in a pit, but my attitude is just as dangerous. Mentally, I’m grumbling. Physically, I’m ignoring. I might as well be alongside Joseph’s brothers, tossing these people into a pit.
“When someone else opens up that shiny toy on Christmas, I want to think of how I’m blessed, not what I think I’m missing out on.”
Jealousy consumes my mind, and I can’t “say a kind word” because I think a boss, friend, or God is showing favoritism. I put these people in the pit, turn my back, and walk away. I’ve heard the story of Joseph and Jacob hundreds of times, but I’ve never put myself in the place of the “jealous brothers,” which is exactly where I belong.
A lot of times I might think I’m like Joseph, staring up from the bottom of a hole begging to get out, but those times are rare. More often, I’m the brothers standing above the pit.
Several weeks ago in a sermon from the Jacob series, we were reminded about the importance of meditating daily on the constant provision and security of God. This reminds us we are loved perfectly by God, not less or more than anyone else.
My goal for myself is to take some time to evaluate my situation and remind myself of the blessings of God.
When someone else opens up that shiny toy on Christmas, I want to think of how I’m blessed, not what I think I’m missing out on. When I think about how God has provided for me, I like to imagine his love and care as a huge fence around my pit of jealousy. I can’t put anyone in it, and I can’t fall in it myself.
There is no favoritism in Christ. His constant blessings and love should be enough to dispel feelings of jealousy and be a barrier from tossing anyone else in a pit.
Mitchel spends a lot of time reading, drinking coffee, and exercising (not at the same time). He and his wife, Katie love being outdoors or watching football (preferably, at the same time). Mitchel attends the Anderson campus.