Thursday, July 02, 2009

A Jealous Heart

This past week, I saw jealousy surface in my now 7 -year old son Zach that I hadn't seen before. As part of our vacation, we took a hike on one of the many trails in Lincoln State Park (Indiana), one of which led to an old but still climbable Fire Tower. We knew we were looking for something to climb but I had no idea that it would be so BIG. I'm not exactly sure of the height, I'm guessing somewhere close to 75 to 80 ft. Anyway, my oldest son Mitchell took right off and began the long ascent up. My daughter Joy (5) wanted to go next, with mom's help of course. Josh (11) made it up a few flights of stairs before deciding that it was too high so he quickly made his way back down. Next in line was Zach - with my help. We made it up to about 30 feet in the air and Zach was visibly scared. And honestly, I'm not that big a fan of heights either so I was a little nervous too! Well, Zach (determined to find the Crystal Skull at the top of the tower) was at his limit. He tried and he tried to talk himself into going further but at the end of the day, he never made it up. And in a vacuum, with no one else around, he would have been alright. But, what made him so mad - bringing out the jealousy like I've never seen before from him - was the fact that his little sister Joy (who's only five) made it all the way up to the top. Honestly, I think (like Cain and Abel) he wanted his little sister dead at that very moment. Seeing her celebrate her long ascent up created a fury in him that I wasn't quite prepared for.

Well, this story reminds me of my own jealous heart at times. We live in a world of constant comparisons. As a pastor, we compare numbers and stats with other pastors. How easily jealousy arises as one pastor describes tremendous success while the other pastor, in comparison, has quite obviously failed. As a father, we compare ourselves with other fathers who seemingly have it all-together and have the father-child thing down-pat. In comparison, we struggle in our child-rearing ability. The result: jealousy. I could go on, but I think you get the point. In our culture, jealousy is a BIG issue, in kids for sure, but perhaps even more so in us as adults. We always tend to want what we don't presently have. And it drives us mad!

So, what' s the answer? After all, Christian's are called not to covet and not to desire what their neighbors and others have. We can try all we want not to want but sometimes that only makes it worse. The fact of the matter is this: it's a heart issue that only God can truly relieve us from. It's something that has to be dealt with on the inside before our outside lives (jealousy, anger, resentment, etc...) can ever show signs of rightness and righteousness characterized by joy, peace, patience, love etc... So, quit trying to be good or to be better. Quit trying not to be jealous. It's not likely to work. Instead, relinquish control and allow God to change you from the inside out. More on this tomorrow...