Posts Tagged ‘jealousy’

1 Samuel 18:1-16 (Part 2 of 3)
Saul Becomes Jealous of David

Jealousy is an ugly emotion that can never be satisfied. It always must be fed to the point of destroying relationships. Have you had a relationship like that? It most often happens in marriages where there has been infidelity. I have seen too many couples try to reconcile immediately in the aftermath of the discovery of an adulterous affair. I have been there myself. You love your wife or the idea of your wife so much that you say that you are willing to forgive, but are we really ready?

The one who has been cheated on says that they can forgive because it is the Christian thing to do. We are told by our Christian friends and mentors that it is the right thing. And we know it is the right thing. God hates divorce and He wants us to love unconditionally and He wants us to forgive. And you, wanting to be a good Christian man or woman buy into those sentiments and fully believe that we should immediately reconcile with our spouse. But are you really ready for what all that entails?

After the initial wondrous first few days of a reconciliation, then, reality sets in. You start to wonder what your spouse is doing when you are not with them. If they are more than 30 minutes late to anything, you wonder and your mind starts to wander. You begin to overcompensate by texting and calling. You begin to shower them with affection and showing up unannounced at work. It all begins to build into this desperate need to know exactly what your spouse is thinking, which is of course is impossible. The emotions of jealousy begin to occupy your mind. You build up these scenarios where you feel completely lost and feel that your spouse really doesn’t love you like you love them. You want them to love you like you love them. But no matter what they do, it is never enough to satisfy that jealousy in your heart. It eats. It consumes. It is never satisified. It becomes an overweight emotion that consumes all sugary substances in our life. It requires more and more and more from the spouse that cheated to the point that they feel smothered by the neediness of the spouse who has been cheated upon. The weird thing about these spouses who have been cheated upon is that all the actions that they intend in their mind to get their spouse to prove their love actually drives their spouse away. Are you really ready for all those emotions that are going to drive you insane with jealousy? Are you really ready?

If you are a spouse who has cheated who then comes to the realization that an adulterous affair is just smoke and mirrors and just the best sides of people and not real life over the long haul and then decide to reconcile with your spouse, are you really ready for this? After that wondrous first few days of a reconciliation, then, reality sets in. As the cheating spouse who is trying to reconcile their marriage, you gotta go into to it realizing that you have got to go the extra mile. You have profoundly altered the relationship with your infidelity. You have profoundly hurt your spouse to the core. You must realize that to them it is almost as if a death has occurred. It is in some ways worse than death. When you were having the affair, the you that you once were to your spouse died but yet they still see you walking around. In that way, it is actually worse than death. You must treat them as a grieving person. You must go the extra mile. Are you really ready for that? Are you ready to have to report your every move? Are you really ready to have to do that for an extended period of time? Are you really ready to validate your spouse as the center of your universe sometimes hourly for an extended period of time? Are you really ready for that? Do you love them enough to be smothered for a while and maybe an extended while. Are you willing to overlook rude comments about your past infidelity? Are you willing to see them seething and smoldering with jealous anger that is eating them alive and know that you are the cause of it? Are you really ready for that?

That’s why I often think it is best in adulterous situations for the two spouses take some time to evaluate these questions. It may even require some living apart but with an eye toward ultimate reconciliation. The emotions of jealousy are so raw and so all consuming for the jilted spouse that it can be ultimately destructive to a relationship if reconciliation is not handled properly. A spouse who has cheated also must realize that the jilted spouse is a grieving spouse that you must love through some tough times. The anger phase of recovery from grief can be a long one. The jilted spouse also must be prepared to trust even when jealousy and past experience says you shouldn’t. That is a tough task for many and only a few can actually achieve over time. Jealousy can suck the life out of a relationship. Are you ready for that if you are trying to reconcile a relationship?

With that idea of trying to save a relationship from the devastating effects of that horrid and all consuming emotion of jealousy, let us read today’s passage for the second of three reads, 1 Samuel 18:1-16:

Chapter 18
1 After David had finished talking with Saul, he met Jonathan, the king’s son. There was an immediate bond between them, for Jonathan loved David. 2 From that day on Saul kept David with him and wouldn’t let him return home. 3 And Jonathan made a solemn pact with David, because he loved him as he loved himself. 4 Jonathan sealed the pact by taking off his robe and giving it to David, together with his tunic, sword, bow, and belt.

5 Whatever Saul asked David to do, David did it successfully. So Saul made him a commander over the men of war, an appointment that was welcomed by the people and Saul’s officers alike.

6 When the victorious Israelite army was returning home after David had killed the Philistine, women from all the towns of Israel came out to meet King Saul. They sang and danced for joy with tambourines and cymbals.[a] 7 This was their song:

“Saul has killed his thousands,
and David his ten thousands!”

8 This made Saul very angry. “What’s this?” he said. “They credit David with ten thousands and me with only thousands. Next they’ll be making him their king!” 9 So from that time on Saul kept a jealous eye on David.

10 The very next day a tormenting spirit[b] from God overwhelmed Saul, and he began to rave in his house like a madman. David was playing the harp, as he did each day. But Saul had a spear in his hand, 11 and he suddenly hurled it at David, intending to pin him to the wall. But David escaped him twice.

12 Saul was then afraid of David, for the Lord was with David and had turned away from Saul. 13 Finally, Saul sent him away and appointed him commander over 1,000 men, and David faithfully led his troops into battle.

14 David continued to succeed in everything he did, for the Lord was with him. 15 When Saul recognized this, he became even more afraid of him. 16 But all Israel and Judah loved David because he was so successful at leading his troops into battle.

In this passage, we see that Saul’s appreciation for David turned to jealousy as people began to applaud David’s exploits. In a jealous rage, Saul attempted to murder David by hurling a spear at him (1 Samuel 18:11-12). Jealousy may not seem to be a sin, but, in reality, it is one step short of murder. Jealousy starts as you resent a rival. It leads to your wishing that they were removed. Then, it manifests itself in words and/or actions. Beware of letting jealousy get a foothold in your life.

Saul tried to kill David because he was jealous of David’s popularity, yet David continued to protect and comfort Saul. Perhaps, people have been jealous of you and have even attacked you in some way. They may be intimidated by your strengths, which makes them conscious of their own shortcomings. It would be natural, according to our normal fleshly desires, to strike back or to avoid them. A better response is to befriend them (see Matthew 5:43-44) and to ask God for the strength to continue loving them as David kept on loving Saul.

Jealousy is an all-consuming, life-sucking, air-depriving emotion. It sucks that life right out of a relationship. Are you willing to love someone through jealousy? If you are the jealous one, are you willing to trust when the fiber of your flesh calls out to you to make someone comply with what you need? Are you willing to realize that jealousy makes you think stuff that’s not real? Are you willing to realize that you have to give that object of your jealousy over to the Lord? Are you really ready to do that? It takes a big man or big woman to trust when every fiber of your being cries out not to! If you are a person who is the subject of someone’s jealousy, are you willing to grant them grace and love them through it? Are you really ready for that?

Are you ready to grant grace? Are you ready to love someone even when they are jealous of you and feel like they are sucking the life right out of you? Are you willing to seek forgiveness for your wrong to them over and over and over and over?

Are you ready to trust someone who has hurt you? Are you really ready to forgive? Are you really ready to put the past in the past and not live in it and relive it every day? Are you willing to move forward and not punish the other person for the wrong they did your forever? Are you willing to give up your supposed moral superiority over them in the name of forgiveness and saving the relationship?

Just think. God does all that for us through His Son Jesus Christ. He puts all the wrongs in the past as far as the east is from the west. He suffers with our fleshly desires and loves us anyway. He loves us back to life and reconciliation with Him.

Amen and Amen.

Numbers 16:1-50 (Part 2 of 3)

Korah, Dathan and Abiram

When we take our eyes of the ball flying toward us, we will inevitably will get hit in the head by it. Think about how we take our eyes off the ball sometimes…

 

Your neighbor has a nicer house. Your fellow employee seems to have it all together – smart, politically savvy, good looking. Your see guys who are young and slim. You see women with the perfect figure and the perfect clothes and the perfect kids and it seems like she was never pregnant – somebody must’ve had those kids for her! You see these power couples that are combination of all these things – both slim and fit, wealthy, good looking, living in the finest house, with the finest yard, with the adorable kids, always seemingly being at the right place at the right time, and they seem to have all the right friends, and it all seems to come natural to them. You are jealous because they seem to have everything that you are not. You know the feeling. We have all experienced it before.

 

In church settings, when you are called later in life to be a minister, sometimes you feel like missed some secret class that you were supposed have gone to make you more ministerial. You didn’t go to the how to be a cool pastor of a modern church secret class. You didn’t get your card punched at the right age. You have the desire and the passion to do what they do but you don’t have the credentials. You feel as though you are a step behind and will never catch up. You don’t know the secret handshake and no one is willing to show you. Even in pastoral settings, it is easy to take your eyes off what you are supposed to have your eyes on. I am sure that at times when you are a pastor of a newer church and you are struggling to get past 700 regular attendees and you see the Steve Furticks of the world with their multi-campus churches that are 10 times as large as yours in the practically the same amount of history that you say, “what am I doing wrong?” We are all human even when you work for a church. Jealousy and envy can be really destructive.

 

You know too that you have heard the stories of jealous husbands or wives. The other spouse cannot do anything without being accused of having designs on another man or woman. One constantly accuses the other of having affairs. What was once love is now fear and jealousy. It sometimes gets so bad that the spouse being accused of having affairs actually has one. So, the other spouse through their jealousy actually creates the self-fulfilling prophecy that they were dreading. We have seen it before. Maybe, you have experienced it before. Maybe you have been the jealous one.

 

Maybe you are a high schooler. Maybe you are smart but not super smart. Maybe you are a good athlete but not good enough to be first string. You see the super smart guys and gals at school where everything seems to come naturally. The only advantage that you see there is that they are mostly socially outcasts. Then, there are the jocks that seem to excel and they seem to have this popularity thing down cold and they usually have the pretty girls too. The only advantage you see there is that the jocks are often much less talented than you in the classroom. The worst is when you find the quarterback is actually a straight A student and he has the homecoming queen as his girlfriend and a handful of other girls that would be his girlfriend in a moment’s notice. He is all conference on the football field with scholarship offers from Division 1 colleges. He is the student body president too boot! It drives you nuts. Instead of admiring what seems to be a natural born leader, you hate this person and everything about them because, ironically, they are what you want to be.

 

It is that idea of destructive jealousy that I thought of when I read this rather extended passage for the second time today, Numbers 16:1-50:

 

16 Korah son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, and certain Reubenites—Dathan and Abiram, sons of Eliab, and On son of Peleth—became insolent 2 and rose up against Moses. With them were 250 Israelite men, well-known community leaders who had been appointed members of the council. 3 They came as a group to oppose Moses and Aaron and said to them, “You have gone too far! The whole community is holy, every one of them, and the Lord is with them. Why then do you set yourselves above the Lord’s assembly?”

 

4 When Moses heard this, he fell facedown. 5 Then he said to Korah and all his followers: “In the morning the Lord will show who belongs to him and who is holy, and he will have that person come near him. The man he chooses he will cause to come near him. 6 You, Korah, and all your followers are to do this: Take censers 7 and tomorrow put burning coals and incense in them before the Lord. The man the Lord chooses will be the one who is holy. You Levites have gone too far!”

 

38 Moses also said to Korah, “Now listen, you Levites! 9 Isn’t it enough for you that the God of Israel has separated you from the rest of the Israelite community and brought you near himself to do the work at the Lord’s tabernacle and to stand before the community and minister to them? 10 He has brought you and all your fellow Levites near himself, but now you are trying to get the priesthood too. 11 It is against the Lord that you and all your followers have banded together. Who is Aaron that you should grumble against him?”

 

12 Then Moses summoned Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab. But they said, “We will not come! 13 Isn’t it enough that you have brought us up out of a land flowing with milk and honey to kill us in the wilderness? And now you also want to lord it over us! 14 Moreover, you haven’t brought us into a land flowing with milk and honey or given us an inheritance of fields and vineyards. Do you want to treat these men like slaves? No, we will not come!”

 

15 Then Moses became very angry and said to the Lord, “Do not accept their offering. I have not taken so much as a donkey from them, nor have I wronged any of them.”

 

16 Moses said to Korah, “You and all your followers are to appear before the Lord tomorrow—you and they and Aaron. 17 Each man is to take his censer and put incense in it—250 censers in all—and present it before the Lord. You and Aaron are to present your censers also.” 18 So each of them took his censer, put burning coals and incense in it, and stood with Moses and Aaron at the entrance to the tent of meeting. 19 When Korah had gathered all his followers in opposition to them at the entrance to the tent of meeting, the glory of the Lord appeared to the entire assembly. 20 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, 21 “Separate yourselves from this assembly so I can put an end to them at once.”

 

22 But Moses and Aaron fell facedown and cried out, “O God, the God who gives breath to all living things, will you be angry with the entire assembly when only one man sins?”

23 Then the Lord said to Moses, 24 “Say to the assembly, ‘Move away from the tents of Korah, Dathan and Abiram.’”

 

25 Moses got up and went to Dathan and Abiram, and the elders of Israel followed him. 26 He warned the assembly, “Move back from the tents of these wicked men! Do not touch anything belonging to them, or you will be swept away because of all their sins.” 27 So they moved away from the tents of Korah, Dathan and Abiram. Dathan and Abiram had come out and were standing with their wives, children and little ones at the entrances to their tents.

 

28 Then Moses said, “This is how you will know that the Lord has sent me to do all these things and that it was not my idea: 29 If these men die a natural death and suffer the fate of all mankind, then the Lord has not sent me. 30 But if the Lord brings about something totally new, and the earth opens its mouth and swallows them, with everything that belongs to them, and they go down alive into the realm of the dead, then you will know that these men have treated the Lord with contempt.”

 

31 As soon as he finished saying all this, the ground under them split apart 32 and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them and their households, and all those associated with Korah, together with their possessions. 33 They went down alive into the realm of the dead, with everything they owned; the earth closed over them, and they perished and were gone from the community. 34 At their cries, all the Israelites around them fled, shouting, “The earth is going to swallow us too!”

 

35 And fire came out from the Lord and consumed the 250 men who were offering the incense.

 

36 The Lord said to Moses, 37 “Tell Eleazar son of Aaron, the priest, to remove the censers from the charred remains and scatter the coals some distance away, for the censers are holy— 38 the censers of the men who sinned at the cost of their lives. Hammer the censers into sheets to overlay the altar, for they were presented before the Lord and have become holy. Let them be a sign to the Israelites.”

 

39 So Eleazar the priest collected the bronze censers brought by those who had been burned to death, and he had them hammered out to overlay the altar, 40 as the Lord directed him through Moses. This was to remind the Israelites that no one except a descendant of Aaron should come to burn incense before the Lord, or he would become like Korah and his followers.

 

41 The next day the whole Israelite community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. “You have killed the Lord’s people,” they said.

 

42 But when the assembly gathered in opposition to Moses and Aaron and turned toward the tent of meeting, suddenly the cloud covered it and the glory of the Lord appeared. 43 Then Moses and Aaron went to the front of the tent of meeting, 44 and the Lord said to Moses, 45 “Get away from this assembly so I can put an end to them at once.” And they fell facedown.

 

46 Then Moses said to Aaron, “Take your censer and put incense in it, along with burning coals from the altar, and hurry to the assembly to make atonement for them. Wrath has come out from the Lord; the plague has started.” 47 So Aaron did as Moses said, and ran into the midst of the assembly. The plague had already started among the people, but Aaron offered the incense and made atonement for them. 48 He stood between the living and the dead, and the plague stopped. 49 But 14,700 people died from the plague, in addition to those who had died because of Korah. 50 Then Aaron returned to Moses at the entrance to the tent of meeting, for the plague had stopped.

 

One of the easiest ways to fall away from following God is to quit looking vertically at him and begin looking horizontally at what others have that you do not. We often look at our own situation and exaggerate the problem. Dothan and Abiram did just that when they began to long for better food and more pleasant surroundings. Egypt, the place they had longed to leave because of their slavery to the Egyptian masters, was now looking better and better – because it had better food. They began to have a warped ideal of what Egypt had been to them. They longed for the better food and made that the ideal place. They had forgotten that the better food came at a high price. They forgot about the slave driving labor that would break the strongest man. They forgot about being defeated at every turn because they were Jews. They only saw the food. These two men and their followers completely lost their perspective.

 

When we take our eyes off God and start looking at ourselves compared to others or to some idealized past or future world, we can lose our perspective as well. When we compare ourselves to what others have that we do not we can lose perspective. When we compare ourselves to others instead of keeping our eyes on God, we will lose perspective. When we focus on what others have that we do not, we lose perspective. When we think we are the only ones who get it and others do not, we lose perspective. When we are jealous of the lifestyle that others have that we do not, we lose perspective. When we are jealous of others who seem to have a better grasp on serving the Lord, we lose perspective. When others have paid their dues over a longer period of time in their service to the Lord but we want what they have and we want it now, we lose perspective. When we want a 7,000 member church when we have a 700 member church, we lose perspective. When we compare ourselves to others in pride or in jealousy, we lose perspective.

 

What are we here for? We are not here to have what others have. We are here to trust the Lord. We are here to serve Him. And, most of all, we are here to love the Lord with the totality of our heart, soul, mind and strength. We are here to be madly in love with the Lord. We are here to be passionately in love with Him. When we have our eyes constantly on that vertical relationship, the horizontal relationships will take care of themselves. When we are madly in love with our Almighty God, we simply serve Him and rely on Him to show us the path to our future. When we are madly in love with the Lord, we work on what is in front of us with all our heart because we know that the Lord has a plan and we trust Him with it. When we are madly in love with the Lord, we do not desire what others have because we see those as decaying things and replaceable things. When we are madly in love with the Lord, it does not mean that we simply lay down and die and just accept things the way they are but it means that giving glory to the Lord in whatever we do is the goal. We trust the Lord to tell us when to fight and when not to. We trust Him so completely that we find joy in every situation that we find ourselves in. Sure, we as Christians must fight injustice but the injustice does not become our God. We fight injustice because it blocks the glory of God being shown to man. When we are in love with the Lord, everything else follows. When we are madly in love with the Lord, we love Him first and when we do that, He will guide us to where we need to be and to do what we need to do. Is there not great contentment in trusting the Lord? Knowing that through our passionate love for Him that He will get us to where we need to be – by His standards and not ours. Boy, does that take the pressure off or what?

 

Let us love the Lord with a full-on, all-in, no holes-barred passion. Everything else will fall into place after that. Not because things happen the way we want them to, but rather because God’s will and His plan become more visible and clear.

 

Amen and Amen.

Numbers 12:1-16 (Part 1 of 2)

The Complaints of Miriam and Aaron Against Moses

 

Have you looked at the on-stage members of your church staff and became jealous because they get to be on-stage and you’re not. Have you ever wondered why your talents are not being recognized at church? You say to yourself, I feel called to be a preacher and you go to seminary but yet you never get to preach? Have you ever felt pigeon-holed into certain tasks at your church simply because that is what you have done for a living for all of your adult life? You think to yourself, I have been in my profession for all these years because that’s just how life worked out and it was the easiest path using one of the talents that God has given you. You think that God has given you the skill of writing and He has given you great passion for God’s Word but yet He is providing you no outlet to pursue and use those passions. No churches are calling you to be their preacher and there seems to be no outlet it for it for you at your present church, your home church. Jealousy is divisive emotion. It can cause bitterness and disillusionment. Jealousies are not of God and they are the division-building sins that Satan whispers in our ear.

 

During the past year, I have struggled with this very sin. Jealousy is really a sign of something deeper. It is really about pride and often hides the real issue. Those Lord has dealt with me on this issue and humbled me on it and I now realize that the real issue was that I was angry at Him for not letting me have my heart’s desire. Often we are jealous of others and the positions that they hold because we want what they have for the wrong reasons. Do you think that maybe God was dealing with pride on my part? Did I really want to be a preacher who preaches every Sunday because of some amount of fame that it might bring me? Was I really wanting to be a public preacher without going through the planned process that God has for me in this? Are there things that God is working on in me that need to be worked on before I can hold the position of on-stage preacher at our church or as the solo preacher at a smaller church? Could it be that there are still things I need to learn before I take the next step? Even worse in my prideful heart, could it be that I am not meant to be that public face of my church or any other and that God has me exactly where He wants me? That was a crushing thought to my pride. Maybe, you are already in your ministry. Maybe, the reason that you, as you see it Mark, feel into your accounting career and have excel reasonably well in it is because that is what your God-given talent is. Yes, He has talented you to be a writer, and a prolific one through this blog at that. Yes, He has given you great passion for God’s Word. Yes, this passion is such that you rarely read any other books than books that give you greater insight into God’s Word. It is so obvious to others and to God but it was not to me. Pride simply is a lack of trust in the Lord. Pride can lead you to be angry at God for not giving you, like a two year old child, the toy that you wanted. It is only through painful self-examination in prayer that I have come to realize that I have not been trusting the Lord with my pastoral future. I must realize that God is in control.

 

I liken myself to Joseph and Moses in coming to realize that I must serve the Lord in the capacity that He has me in at the moment and do it with fervor, passion, and with great love for my Lord. I must do what He has in front of me and trust Him with the rest. What if Moses had complained about living in Midian for forty years before he was called to come free his people from Egypt. What if he had whined during those forty years and complained and didn’t see that his time as a herdsmen was necessary for the last forty years of his life where he was the leader of a nomadic people in the Sinai peninsula. What if Joseph, falsely accused of having inappropriate sexual relations with an Egyptian governor’s wife, had whined and complained about being falsely accused and just sat in prison in brooding anger. Instead he became a trusted servant of his jailors which led him to be in a position to become the second most powerful man in Egypt. Each of these men faithfully went about what God had placed in front of them and served in that capacity to the best of their ability for as long as was necessary. They trusted God with the rest. They did not really have much concern about what was next because they knew that God had their back and would open doors as He saw fit. In them, I see men who maybe thought to themselves that this is it. God has me where He wants me and maybe this is where He wants me for the rest of my life and be good with that. How much do we trust the Lord is the ultimate issue or how much will be let our pride take over and destroy what God has planned for us? Some might say that this is a defeatist attitude. But it is more of a trusting attitude and a giving-God-control attitude.

 

I have had to learn to trust God in that way myself. I have had to learn that maybe this is exactly what God intended all along. That struggle in my own heart is what I thought of when I read today’s passage, Numbers 12:1-16:

 

12 Miriam and Aaron began to talk against Moses because of his Cushite wife, for he had married a Cushite. 2 “Has the Lord spoken only through Moses?” they asked. “Hasn’t he also spoken through us?” And the Lord heard this.

 

3 (Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.)

 

4 At once the Lord said to Moses, Aaron and Miriam, “Come out to the tent of meeting, all three of you.” So the three of them went out. 5 Then the Lord came down in a pillar of cloud; he stood at the entrance to the tent and summoned Aaron and Miriam. When the two of them stepped forward, 6 he said, “Listen to my words:

 

“When there is a prophet among you,

    I, the Lord, reveal myself to them in visions,

    I speak to them in dreams.

7

But this is not true of my servant Moses;

    he is faithful in all my house.

8

With him I speak face to face,

    clearly and not in riddles;

    he sees the form of the Lord.

Why then were you not afraid

    to speak against my servant Moses?”

 

9 The anger of the Lord burned against them, and he left them.

 

10 When the cloud lifted from above the tent, Miriam’s skin was leprous[a]—it became as white as snow. Aaron turned toward her and saw that she had a defiling skin disease, 11 and he said to Moses, “Please, my lord, I ask you not to hold against us the sin we have so foolishly committed. 12 Do not let her be like a stillborn infant coming from its mother’s womb with its flesh half eaten away.”

 

13 So Moses cried out to the Lord, “Please, God, heal her!”

 

14 The Lord replied to Moses, “If her father had spit in her face, would she not have been in disgrace for seven days? Confine her outside the camp for seven days; after that she can be brought back.” 15 So Miriam was confined outside the camp for seven days, and the people did not move on till she was brought back.

 

16 After that, the people left Hazeroth and encamped in the Desert of Paran.

 

People often argue over minor disagreements, leaving the real issue untouched. Such was the case with Miriam and Aaron. They represented the priests (Aaron) and the prophets (Miriam), the two most powerful groups of the Israelites, next to Moses. The real issue was their growing jealousy of Moses and their own anger at God caused by their pride. Since could not find fault with Moses’ leadership, they chose to criticize his wife. Rather than face the problem squarely by dealing with their envy and pride, they chose to create a diversion from the real issue. Miriam was punished by God and not Aaron not because she was a woman and Aaron was a man but rather because, based on the Hebrew grammar of the sentence, she was the one who started the whole jealousy conversation with Miriam. It has been amply proven in Exodus that Aaron was not strong-willed when it came to resisting public opinion even when he knew it was wrong. Miriam was the instigator here.

 

Miriam held an important position in the people of Israel. God had given her great talent of prophecy and of song. She was important among the Israelite people and that is why her story is included here. It shows how jealousy caused by pride can take our eyes of the gifts that God has given us. It can take our eye of serving the Lord in the capacity that He has us. It gets our eyes of the fact that God has us where He wants us at the moment, and maybe even forever, because that is where He needs us to be. It takes our eyes off the good that we are doing in the capacities that we are in. We must learn to trust the Lord that He has us where He wants us and that it is HE that will make it abundantly clear to us (with no sense of dissension but rather a sense of peace) when it is time to take the next step. Joseph was a servant in a jail for 12 years, but He trusted God and served there to the best of his ability. Where would the people of Israel have been without Joseph having served to the best of his ability in that jail. They would be dead due to famine. There would have been no Moses, no Exodus, no Promised Land. What if Moses had not dutifully served his father-in-law in Midian for 40 years. The Israelites may well have not survived in the wilderness without Moses’ experience living the nomadic lifestyle. Without that, there would be no people Israel. No promised land. No people from which Jesus Christ would come.

 

Let us begin to trust God with place that He has us right now and serve Him in that capacity to the best of our ability for as long as God would have us do that. No, that’s not some defeatist, status-quo attitude. That is trusting God with our future. That is trusting that He will make a path for us. That is trusting that He will make our way clear. That is trusting that He will let us plainly see and feel that is time for the next thing. In the meantime, we shout the gospel through our trust in Him to serve Him in the capacity that He has us right as if this is the final thing, as if we are in our sweet spot, as if we are preaching to the world by the way we serve the Lord in the place that He has us. That’s trust. That’s humility. That is putting our pride in its place.

 

Amen and Amen.

Luke 1:39-45 — Have you ever let jealousy ruin a precious moment in life? That could have been the reaction of Elizabeth in this situation but her humility is worth noting when she sees her relative, Mary.

In first century Palestine, a woman’s value was largely measured by the children she bore. Barrenness often lead to personal hardship and public shame. When she found out that she was going to have a baby, it was a long-awaited answer to years of prayer. She would no longer have to hear the whispers as she passed by others. She also knew that her future was secure through her coming son. She also knew from her husband’s encounter with the angel of the Lord that her son was going to be special. He was going to be the one that paved the way for the long-promised Messiah. It was news that just had her giddy with excitement and feelings of blessing. I am sure that we have all experienced those times where we know that we have been given a great blessing. It just makes you feel as though all your years of faithfulness to the Lord have been rewarded. It gives you a feeling that yeah, I really have done the right thing following Jesus all these years. It is a moment of joy and satisfaction. It gives you a moment of pause when you realize when there is a blessing that you know can only come from the Lord. Have you ever received a blessing that you know was only possible through the grace of God? It made you feel especially loved and favored by God. I am sure that Elizabeth felt this way too. There are times when we feel especially blessed. It is the sweet spot of all sweet spots when you realize that God gave you a blessing specifically. Not your neighbor. Not someone you hear and see about on stage at church. Not something you read in a devotional or see on a TV program. It is you that has been blessed. You!

Imagine then Elizabeth meeting Mary. This encounter is when you really realize that Elizabeth is a true woman of God. We read earlier in a previous passage that Elizabeth and Zechariah were righteous people in God’s eyes. Now, from the scene in this passage, we know it for sure. Have you ever had one of those situations where you had a story that everyone was in awe of but then someone chimes in that they have an even better story than that. Everyone listening then turns their attention to the “better story” and then you are left alone as everyone then follows the person with the better story. We have a modern day example of this from my favorite football team, Clemson. Cole Stoudt is a senior and has worked hard over the past four years and waited his turn to become the starting quarterback. His faithfulness to the Clemson program is astounding. It is a story worthy of praise. He certainly has a story to tell about faithfulness and hard work and believing in yourself. However, he just happened to have a freshman phenom quarterback to be recruited whose talents are far above his. Everyone makes over DeShaun Watson. He is the next four years of Clemson football. What about Cole? He is left behind. His faithfulness had been rewarded. But along comes someone with far greater talent. Cole could have pouted. However, he stuck around and became a man. He could have let jealousy destroy him. However, without Cole over the past three weeks, while Watson has been injured, he has been a steadying force. Jealousy could have derailed a team’s season.

In the same light, Elizabeth could have been jealous of Mary. She could have felt like the kid who had the less great story. She could have reacted the opposite of Cole Stoudt. She could have, in jealousy, been angry with Mary. Elizabeth’s story was a miracle. She was advanced in years and finally was pregnant. And not just pregnant, pregnant with a special child. She encounters Mary whose son they both knew was going to be greater than Elizabeth’s precious long-awaited child. She could have been one of those people who start vicious rumors about those who seem to be more blessed that we are. She could have rejected Mary in jealousy. But that is not what we see from Elizabeth. Amazingly, Elizabeth shows her true humility. The statements about her and Zechariah are true. They are righteous people humbly serving their Lord. Instead of jealousy, she was filled with the Holy Spirit and filled with joy that the mother of the Christ Child would come to visit her. Have you ever envied people who seem particularly singled out for special blessing? Are you jealous of those at church who have positions of authority over you? Instead of being petty and jealous, let’s us rejoice for those who have been blessed. Instead of talking gossip about those in authority over us, let us be humble and realize that those in authority over us have been given that position because God ordained it and we often don’t see their behind the scenes faithfulness to the Lord. Let us rejoice and take the Elizabeth approach and not the jealous approach. Elizabeth knew that her son would serve the Lord and serve the one in Mary’s womb. She was a servant of the Lord not the servant of her own ego. We all are here to serve Jesus. We are all here to tell the story of his great gift of salvation and of restoration. Let us serve the Lord together in the capacities that He has given us right now at this place at this moment in time. All of us are servants. We must serve and work in our positions that we hold no matter how high or how low as if we are working for the Lord. God has you right where He wants you right now because this is where He needs you in the position you hold. Let us be humble like Elizabeth and realize and submit to the Lord.

Father, help me to have an Elizabeth attitude about life. Help me to realize that you bless me daily and give me what I need not what somebody else needs. You personally know me and love me. I should not compare my blessings to others. You are doing a work in me that is unique to me. Help me to have a vertical mentality rather than a horizontal one. Help me to keep my eyes on you and how you sustain me personally rather than comparing myself to how you bless or don’t bless others. My relationship with you is vertical. You are my King and I am your servant. I need to remember that I serve to glorify you and not gain glory from others. Help me to be Elizabeth humble. Amen.

Romans 12:15 — This verse sound like a pretty easy prescription for a good and healthy life doesn’t it? “Rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn.” In actuality, it is a little tougher than it sounds. Can you really dive deep into being joyful for those who are joyful and be mournful with those who mourn?

Rejoice with those who rejoice. Sounds simple enough. If I am married, I should rejoice at weddings. What if though, you’re marriage is falling apart? What if you are going through a divorce that you did not want? Man, rejoicing with your friend who is getting married is hard to do isn’t it? What if you and your wife have been trying to have a baby and you find out that you can’t have children? It is hard to rejoice with your neighbors who are pregnant with their third kid in four years. What if you are a pastor and your church is struggling but yet you see another pastor you know that has a church that seems everything they do just explodes with reaching new people? Can you rejoice with your fellow pastor? What if you are qualified and ready for that promotion but yet your co-worker is chosen over you? Can you rejoice with your co-worker? I could go on and on with this, but I think you are beginning to see the picture of the completeness of Paul’s command. He calls us not to simply rejoice when it is easy for us to rejoice. It is hard for us to rejoice with others when they have obtained something that we want but don’t have. We are called to rejoice and have true joy for others even when it makes us envious of their good fortune. It’s like patting your friend on the back when his favorite team has beaten your favorite team for the national championship. Many of us do not react with genuine joy for the good fortune of others. Many of us try to minimize the successes of others when we do not have that same success. Are you jealous of someone who seems to have it all right now at this moment? Paul calls us to rise above our selfishness and aspire to selflessness. Instead of viewing everything through our own lenses, see life from others’ perspectives.

It’s like FB Meyers story. He was a preacher along the same time as Charles Spurgeon. Meyer was a great preacher in his own right. However, he was just not as gifted a preacher as Spurgeon was. He was jealous of Spurgeon’s success. He watched Spurgeon’s church explode. He went to God in prayer about his jealousy. The result was that he prayed for Spurgeon’s success and that God would bring the overflow to his church. That took humility to swallow his jealousy and pray for the success of his rival. Ultimately, Meyer came to the knowledge that reaching souls for Christ was the bottom line and that each of us may be called to either lesser or greater roles in that. That’s humility. That’s keeping your eye on what’s really important. So, let it be said of us that in our Christian walk that we rejoiced with genuine joy for those who rejoice. Help our reaction to others speak of the joy we have in Christ. A humble heart who knows his value comes from the Lord can speak volumes of who Jesus Christ is.

Mourn with those who mourn. Again, this sounds pretty easy on the surface. Typically, we all can muster up sympathy for others who have suffered a loss. For example, we can typically be there for a family who has had a sudden death in their family. We can be there for the day of the death, the visitation, and the funeral. But can we be there for that family a year from now when they are still suffering from their loss. Can you be there for them later when it really matters. People can be greatly loving temporarily when the lights are bright. But can you be loving to that same family when they seem such a drag a year later. Can you be there for them when there is no advantage to you. Can you be there for them when they seem to be sucking the very life out of you. Can you be there for the friend who is going through an unwanted divorce and is just having great trouble coping with it for months on end? Can we really mourn with those who mourn? Can you hold your friends hand when you don’t have all the right answers or, as a matter of fact, you don’t have any good answers. Mourn for those who mourn. Let us be ones who get down in the mud with those who mourn. Help us to be in their lives when it is not convenient. Help us to be there when they call even when they seem to call too many times. Help us to be there when they call when you feel like screaming at them to get a life. Help us to be there when we don’t have any right answer. Help us to be there when we can’t fix it. Help us to be for the long haul. Help us to not abandon those who mourn because they make us feel uncomfortable. Help us to just be there. What could speak greater of the love of Jesus Christ than for us to truly mourn with those who mourn rather than just mourn for them. What could speak greater of Jesus love than to love those who mourn for weeks, months, years – even when there seems no end in sight. Help us, Lord, to mourn for those who suffer injustice, help us mourn for those who suffer loss, help us mourn for those who are inconvenient to us. Help us to really care and not just care when its comfortable.

Father, in heaven, Jesus said for us to be perfect as you are perfect. We can never be as perfect as you because of our sin nature. It is for that reason that we need Jesus. It is for that reason that we need the Holy Spirit living in us. It is for that reason that we need Your Word. Help us to continue to grow in our walk with you each and every day after salvation. Sometimes the things that you teach us are very hard to do in our selfish nature. Rejoicing and mourning for those who rejoice and those who mourn sounds simple enough. However, it can be truly difficult for us when its not convenient for our view of the world. Help us not to be so self-centered that we cannot rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn. Help us to really care about others even when its not convenient or when we do not get anything out of it ourselves. Help us to be humble enough to really care for others in true and meaningful ways that speak volumes about your glory and and your Son. Help us to remember the phrase, What would Jesus do. Amen.