The Green-Eyed Monster
Saul was very angry…..and he said, “They have ascribed to David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed only thousands. No what more can he have but the kingdom?” So Saul eyed David from that day forward.
1 Samuel 18: 8-9
Saul was the tallest, most handsome man in the land- straight off the GQ cover. His good looks, though, weren’t as important as his status. Out of all the men of Israel, God had chosen him to be king. Saul had it made, but sadly, it wasn’t enough for him.
By contrast, David was born in a relatively obscure shepherd family. He was only a young man, but he was brave as a lion! When the Philistine giant Goliath threatened the army of Israel, little David stepped up and killed him with a rock from a slingshot. The army was spared, Saul still reigned on the throne, and the Philistine threat vanished. You’d think Saul would be grateful, but when the people sang to praise David’s exploits, the green-eyed monster of jealousy rose in Saul’s heart.
Jealousy warps a person’s thinking, creating the illusion of threats that actually don’t exist. Because people praised David, Saul concluded that David wanted his throne. His false perception justified his anger and further enflamed his jealousy.
One of the marks of a secure, mature person is to be thrilled that others receive praise and to join in. Jealousy is a sure sign of insecurity, and mental machinations that produce threats to ourselves only reinforce bitter feelings and jealous actions. The cure for jealousy isn’t to control and condemn the other person. The solution is to step back, acknowledge the root cause of insecurity, and deal with it. The love, acceptance, and grace of God give us a firm foundation so that we don’t have to be praised more than anyone else.
You will make a lousy somebody else, but the best you in existence.
Most of us who are Christians have heard that “we are fearfully and wonderfully made” and Genesis tells us that we are made in the image of God. Yet we look at others and wish we looked like them, that we were as intelligent as they are, and as successful as they appear. We spend hours trying to be somebody we aren’t and when we don’t succeed we can find ourselves envious and jealous of others. If God truly made us, and I believe that He did, then in His infinite wisdom and unfathomable love, He didn’t wish us to be somebody else.
When you consider the story of Saul and David, one has to wonder why Saul would be jealous of David when he was the one who was king and David was only a shepherd boy. Saul was the one who lived in the palace and ruled the nation. Saul was the one who was taller and more handsome. It is said that David was short and really not that good looking. Yet Saul was jealous. I think that Ziglar is on to something when he says that envy and jealously often stem from our own insecurities. Who or what gives us value is extremely important. If our value lies in having the best car, the finest home, the most money, the top position, or the best looks, figure, dress, we will always find someone who outshines us.
I figured out a long time ago that there would always be people who excel far above me in almost everything. I am fully aware that there are those who can preach better, play a instrument better, sing better, and do most everything better. I know that my possessions are small in comparison to others. There will always be someone who can top my best. But I’ve learned that my value isn’t in my accomplishments or the lack thereof. My value lies solely in whose I am. When God picked up a seventeen year old messed up hippy and adopted him into the family of God, that became his identity. Prior to that he was so shy and insecure and envious and often wanted to be somebody else. But when Christ reached down and picked up this lump of clay and said, “I can make something out of this” that messed up kid got a new view of life. Once we come to the place in life that pleasing God is the most important thing we do and being content with what God provides us, and learn that God actually didn’t make a mistake when He made us, oh what liberty. Gone is the competitive spirit that pushes us to be at the top of the heap. Gone is the horizontal view of measuring ourselves against others. Instead when our view is vertical, we find that our value is set by Him and I can tell you that His grading system is far less judgmental than that of the world. When you mess up in the world you are shamed, ridiculed, mocked and abandoned by those you thought were your friends. When you mess up with Jesus, He takes you by the hand and says that nothing is impossible to turn around. From a place of acceptance and being loved you find you have no need to compete for such against others. God has so much grace, so many blessings for everyone and His supply is unlimited so it’s easy to rejoice with others when they are being blessed without fear that they somehow may have got your blessing. Often we view God as some limited human. Siblings often compete for parents attention because they are fully aware that the parents have limited time, but never does a child of God have to compete.
Our view of life and all that it appears to offer is vastly different than the view from heaven. Jesus tells the story of two individuals. By the measurements of the world, the rich man was to be envied and the beggar was to be pitied. I’m sure that parents never said to their children, “Why can’t you be more like Lazarus(the beggar)?” More than likely they pointed out the fine home, the sumptuous feasts, the fine clothes, and the fancy carriage and said, “That’s who you need to aspire to be like.” We have no idea why Lazarus was a beggar. Maybe life hadn’t been kind. Maybe once he had plenty. What we do know is that he apparently made his relationship with God important. Few if any noticed his relationship with God. They were too busy kicking him out of the way. Nothing is ever said about him demanding the rich man to redistribute his wealth. As a matter of fact he seemed content to exist on the crust cast aside from the feasts. We don’t hear in the story that he had an attitude against the rich man. Even in his suffering and lack, he apparently stayed close to God for Jesus said when he died the angels came and carried him to Abraham’s bosom. Doubtful if his death was noticed except by the servants tasked with carting his body to the rubbish heap. But God noticed! On the other hand I have no doubt the rich man had an elaborate funeral. He was dressed in fine apparel and a exquisite casket. There was a large group of mourners to give him the send off and I’m sure there were quite a number of speeches extolling his accomplishments. But none of that impressed God. Jesus simply said that he died, was buried, and in hell he lifted up his eyes in torment. Jesus said that he would have gladly traded places with the beggar.
What makes us truly rich is when we know that we are the children of God.
In my time as a hospice chaplain, I heard stories of people who had done incredible things, had almost as much of this worlds goods as anyone, and the trophies that validated their accomplishments. What was interesting was that the vast majority told me that none of it meant anything now that they were at the end of their journey. They no longer wanted the biggest house, the best car, to be the life of the party or to hold positions or achieve great things. What occupied their minds was their future in eternity and those who had walked with God met their destiny with peace. Rich or poor, educated or uneducated, successful or failure didn’t affect how they viewed their lives. The most important identity was whether they were indeed children of God and what would happen to them when they died. I heard stories of those who worked and labored to “keep up with the Jones” and regretted not enjoying any of the blessing of life. I heard stories of those whose careers and possessions occupied so much of their time that they felt like they had never really lived. I can tell you that they had no envy of what others had or possessed. They weren’t concerned with how they measured up in society. They only wanted to know whether God was pleased with their lives.
We don’t have to wait until our lives are almost over to come to this place of making eternal things our treasures, recognizing that everything in this world will someday be gone, that in heaven none of what matters so much to us now will be important, and we will seek to have our value defined by our Creator who valued us so highly that He gave up His Son for us. We can be thankful for all that God has blessed us with and we can also be thankful with our neighbors for all God has blessed them with. We can end our stress, our destructive thoughts and behaviors and walk in the path that God has laid out before us. Saul sought in vain to be the most important person in the room and unfortunately that desire led him to destroy his relationships with both God and man. David could submit himself as a servant to the very man who was plotting to kill him because he trusted God with his future. Even in his greatest failures, he sought his value in God. Many of his psalms record that truth.
Today is a good day to receive the confidence and the acceptance of who you are. No matter how much you may want to be like someone else, you can’t. No envy or jealousy will change your status or theirs. Being consumed with jealousy will rob your life of any joy that it might have. Jealousy will destroy relationships for mistrust goes hand in hand. No matter how much you may fear betrayal, you have no way of preventing it if someone chooses to betray you. If you’re jealous of your spouse, it won’t make them come home to you. If you’re jealous of your friend it won’t make you better than they. All the green-eyed monster can accomplish is to steal your peace and joy. Interestingly enough, jealously is listed in the Galatian’s list of works of the flesh. The antidote is the fruit of the Spirit. You can’t really be jealous of someone you love. You won’t stew over things when your heart is filled with joy. And someone’s success in the midst of your failure can’t take your peace if you got it from Jesus.
So let go, let God, and live!
Dr. John Thompson