Beyond Jealousy

Click here to read the passage for today: Acts 5:17-42 CEB.

Jealousy. We all get jealous at times. Sometimes we don’t even want to admit we feel this emotion. Jealousy, when left unchecked, causes us to act in irrational and hurtful ways. Oh, we want to feel excitement for the accomplishments and gifts of other people; but deep down we wish it was us getting that recognition, so we can try to do anything to undermine the work of another.

Often times, when I write a blog about scripture, I can see my own flawed nature. This is hard because I would like to think I am always striving to encourage and develop others; but honestly, this is not always the case. My guess is this same thing happens to you, would you admit it?

So where does jealousy come from? Our flawed humanity seems to be always seeking to acquire and use what we do not have. This is why the 10th Commandment is “do not covet anything of your neighbor’s.” (See Exodus 20:17) Why is this included? I believe this commandment is part of the other nine because if we desire to have what our neighbors (those around us) have then we will never be content with what God has given us and we will seek to be made in the image of the other person rather than being formed and molded into the image of Jesus Christ.

Have you ever thought of that? Why would we want to be a replica of another person who is flawed and imperfect? Why wouldn’t we strive to be made perfect through the grace of God working in and through us? People who are in leadership positions most certainly fall into this way of thinking and of life.

Whenever another person seems to have more success than you do, be careful not to fall into the trap of doing everything exactly the way they do. The other person has different gifts, and a different area to work in. Just because success is happening in a specific way in one area does not mean it will work in your area. Just because another company, organization, church, group has something we don’t have doesn’t mean we have to go out to bash it, to try and stop it, or even try to replicate exactly.

We see this behavior all over the place. Spectators who want to be coaches instead of fully enjoying the nature of the game. Bystanders who want to know they are not getting what they want instead of being part of the activity, ministry, mission to serve other people. Deep down, there is a desire to be better than the person next to us.

Instead of waiting our energy tearing down another person or group because we’re jealous, let’s instead find a way to say “thanks” for the work they’re doing, for how they are using their gifts from God, for the opportunity to work together for the common good and goal of ushering in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Let’s take Gamaliel’s advice to the Jewish Council speak to us today, “Here’s my recommendation in this case: Distance yourselves from these men. Let them go! If their plan or activity is of human origin, it will end in ruin. If it originates with God, you won’t be able to stop them. Instead, you would actually find yourselves fighting God!”

So let’s praise God for the way he works through many different people and in many different ways. Let’s praise God for the way he works through you and me. Let’s allow more thanks and praise to flow from our lips. We have so much to give praise for because we, along with those around us, have the presence God working in us and through us AND we get to watch his work through other people.

Irons in the Fire

We are all busy people, and seem to be getting busier. At the time this blog post gets published, we will be one week away from Thanksgiving. Does that scare anyone? Think of all that needs to be done. Then throw on all the preparations for Christmas and parties and other events, and our lives get overwhelmed really quick.

Why do we have to be so busy? If we take a look at the stuff that fills our day, my guess would be we mainly have tasks that keep us busy and do not have any meaning to the real stuff that has to get done. I hear people say all the time, and I say it too, “I have to do ______.” Or “_______ needs to get done right now.” Do these questions sound familiar?

Our culture tells us we have to constantly be working and have things to do. Boredom is not an option. So, we add more and more to our already full schedule so no space is left blank and we can “feel” like we are accomplishing something. Do we really have to do everything that comes to mind, or be part of planning everything we want to be a participant?

Scheduling

Something we hear all the time is to make a to-do list and prioritize the most important tasks. Honestly, this is something I struggle to do every day. It scares me sometimes how much I try to cram in one day, so it gets difficult to write down because I start feeling like I’m going to forget something. But, I have begun to divide tasks out so I do not have to focus on everything every day.

Making a priority to-do list helps keep us on the right track and it shows what has to get done right away. It is important to complete the most important tasks first so the stress of them not getting done does not happen.

Empowering Others

It is so easy to get into the mindset that “I have to be the one to show how to do ______.” This is simply not the case. Often times, we can (and should) give people an idea of what needs to be done and talk about how it will get implemented and accomplished. We cannot do everything ourselves and it becomes more and more important to empower others to use their gifts and talents.

Each person has different gifts and talents. Scripture even teaches this. 1 Corinthians 12, Romans 12, Ephesians 4 are some great examples. We can also see an example of this in the Old Testament book of Exodus 31:6, “Moreover, I have appointed Oholiab son of Ahisamak, of the tribe of Dan, to help him. Also I have given ability to all the skilled workers to make everything I have commanded you:”

God has given us the gift of relationships through community so that we do not have to try to do everything be ourselves.

Asking “Why”

The reason, I think, we are too busy really comes down to one thing: our pride / our ego. This may seem harsh, but the reality is that it is easier to think “if I don’t do it, it won’t get done right.”

We are people of a culture, in America, that says “I have to prove myself worthy.” This scares people when full credit may not be given straight to them. Why do we have to have the credit for accomplishing something? I think it’s because we need to feel important. It also goes along with making sure other people know how smart we are or that we can actually accomplish the task or event at hand.

Asking ourselves the question, “WHY does it really have to be me to do _______?” can be the most important question we can ask ourselves. Putting this at the top of our priority list daily should help keep things into perspective so we remember we are not in this alone.

So, how many things can you let go of doing personally and empower others to take care of them? I invite you to pray, talk with close friends, and seek the Holy Spirit’s direction to see who He has empowered with the gifts to accomplish the task(s) at hand.

Gotta run and see what I can pass off to people who have the gifts and talents to take stuff off my plate so I don’t get stressed.

Peace.

Suffering & Singing

James 5:13 “If any of you are suffering, they should pray. If any of you are happy, they should sing.”

This week we are entering into the final week of our series on James. We’ll be focusing this week on prayer and it’s power.

“Are any of you suffering?” This is the first thing we come to is the idea of suffering. I find that we tend to over think suffering and try to make this as something really bad. This is one of the reasons, I believe, many people avoid praying because our “problems” or “issues” may not seem big enough to “bother” God with our “little lives.”

Suffering is defined as, “pain that is caused by injury, illness, loss, etc. : physical, mental, or emotional pain sufferings : feelings of pain.” So, with this definition, we all suffer on some level.

One thing I would like to take care of first is reminding us that, no matter how small or insignificant we think our problems or issues are, God loves when we communicate our “sufferings.”

The Apostle Paul reminds us in Philippians 4:6, “Don’t be anxious about anything; rather, bring up all of your requests to God in your prayers and petitions, along with giving thanks.” Anything we go through or have on our minds or hearts, we can bring up to God and express our thoughts and our feelings. We don’t not have to be in a place where we think our problems are big enough for God. We have a God who wants us to bring to Him any and every part of our life.

Praying is a sense of release of the burdens we carry on our hearts. This means that we have a chance to experience joy. Through joy, we can sing our praises. Singing expresses joy in our hearts. This joy is then expressed throughout our actions and our relationships.

What is it you need to pray about today (big or small) to release it off your heart and allow God to fill your spirit with joy and happiness?

The best part is that it doesn’t require any special words or phrases. Simply talk with God as you would another person.

: pain that is caused by injury, illness, loss, etc. : physical, mental, or emotional pain

sufferings : feelings of pain