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ARE YOU CHOOSING THE HIGHER GROUND IN THE FACE OF HOSTILITY?

Quotes

  • God will fight your battles if you just keep still. He is able to carry you through. Trust Him. Keep standing, keep believing and keep hoping (Germany Kent).
  • Self-love is, no doubt, the usual foundation of human jealousy…the fear lest another should by any means supplant us (Charles Spurgeon).
  • There is nothing wrong with the command of God to ‘stone the false prophet!’ The problem is that the church has discerned wrongly and stoned the true prophet! That is why there are no more true prophets in our days, because as soon as they begin their ministry, we rub them out (G.A. Jarquin)
  • Any church that is not seriously involved in helping fulfill the Great Commission has forfeited its biblical right to exist (Oswald J. Smith)

Text

Genesis 37: 9 Then he had another dream, and he told it to his brothers. “Listen,” he said, “I had another dream, and this time the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.” 10 When he told his father as well as his brothers, his father rebuked him and said, “What is this dream you had? Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow down to the ground before you?” 11 His brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the matter in mind.

I heard of a Christian lady who was seeking counsel because of a problem she was having. Her mother was jealous of her academic achievements and also seemed determined to ensure that she had no relationship with what she called a good man. It reminded me of a well-to-do lady who also felt harassed by the jealous attitude of her Christian husband who would somehow crash any attempt she made to serve the community. Dealing with other people’s anger is challenging, confusing and can be especially terrifying when the negative emotions are coming from someone whose relationship is significant, like a spouse, sibling, and even parent. It can be very stressful, leaving one with painful feelings that include loneliness, confusion, self-doubting, and awkwardness.

There is a subtle difference between envy and jealousy. Envy can be said to be the personal pain caused by the desire of the advantage of another or others while jealous is the pain caused by fear of losing one’s advantages to another or others. To minimize threat posed by the advantage of others there is tendency to be ungrateful, skeptical, contemptuous and disrespectful.  Jealousy is an inevitable emotion that pretty much every one of us will experience. The bible commentator Barclays says that the root word in Greek is zelos, from which the word zeal comes. To observe achievements of another could  get  you stirred to act in hope of achieving what is good. The low self-esteem that drives the jealous feeling sneaks in unconsciously meaning the people are unaware of the basic shame that exists within. Jealousy is a form of hatred built upon insecurity.  This is because it comes so naturally to think self-critical thoughts about one self. Jealousy is categorized as a work of the flesh (Galatians 5:19) when it is the feeling of ill will at the good happening to another. It is one thing to be jealous of others, and it is another to have others jealous of you. This is particularly because it is not possible to control another person’s acts, but one can control his or her reactions to the other person. Jesus’ teaching is “bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you” (Luke 6:28). A Christian has to choose the higher path, learning to live well with those who are jealous.

SEEKING TO UNDERSTAND EVEN WHEN ONE IS MISUNDERSTOOD

Do what is right –Cain killed his brother Abel because God accepted Abel’s sacrifice. What God told Cain should apply to us today “Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” (Genesis 4:6-7). Refuse to allow the critical inner voice form negative thoughts.  If it is the other person who is having feelings of resentment, hatred and intolerance; you have freedom to choose to think differently.

Forgive – When you understand that jealousy is caused by underlying issues such as feelings of inadequacy, dissatisfaction with possibilities available, you realize the jealous person is helpless.  Cain‘s sacrifice was not accepted by God and he is likely to have wanted to be the one whose sacrifice is accepted.  Joseph’s brothers were jealous of him because of his dreams yet he was not responsible for the dreams that came to him while he slept.  To forgive is the weapon that cuts off the handcuffs that others are handing over to you. To forgive is obedience to God and thus an act of love.  Forgiveness and refusal to rehearse the words and acts that are disrespectful and undeserved treatment releases you to continue the mission God has given you. In refusing the chains, you allow God to handle the issue. “Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord” (Romans 12:9).

Gratitude – God has given you something that is causing the other person to feel that he would be the one having it.  Having people jealous of you is likely to imply that there is something you are doing right and you are successful. For another to be jealous of you means that you are doing well and the other wants that for him/herself.  Whether the feeling is real or imagined, that sense of inadequacy is likely to be projected through negative thoughts or actions.  If your sacrifice is accepted, or God has given you t dreams in the case of Joseph, you have determined to be a person of excellence as Daniel (Chapter 6), praise the Lord. Though not easy, do not allow your mind to dwell on the negative words and actions of the one who is jealous; see what God has done and praise Him. This calls for humility. “ For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you” (Romans 12:3).

Mission – Jealousy is a powerful force. The underlying feelings of inadequacy are rooted in a poor relationship with God. Think of King Saul who was jealous of David for winning the battles. Instead of enjoying the victory, he set himself to fight David.  “Whatever mission Saul sent him on, David was so successful that Saul gave him a high rank in the army. This pleased all the troops, and Saul’s officers as well. . . Saul was very angry; this refrain displeased him greatly. “They have credited David with tens of thousands,” he thought, “but me with only thousands. What more can he get but the kingdom?” 9 And from that time on Saul kept a close eye on David” (1 Samuel 18: 3, 8-9). Certainly, Saul was a man to be pitied. He could not enjoy his status and David’s achievements meant for the good of his kingdom. It is with empathy that one relates with those who are victims of self-doubt and an unexamined life.  The problem of being jealous cannot be sorted by your appearance of being who you are not. The root cause has to be addressed.

Jealousy unfortunately blinds the person to the bigger picture. The mind is gripped by what one is lacking ignoring all the possibilities around them. Cain Killed his brother Abel, Jacob’s sons got rid of younger brother Joseph, Daniel was thrown in the lion’s den, which should remind us to trust in the Lord when others are jealous about you. However, when you find yourself on the receiving end of negative feelings, you begin by self-examination. If as far as it is within your knowledge you cannot trace your contribution in triggering the ill feelings, recognize the importance of relationships.  Healthy relationships are powerful and that is why one needs to be rooted in the word of God. “Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me” (Psalm 27:10). Yes you can sense subtle messages from the very people you trust that are meant to be like a trap and that is why the promise to be taken up by the Lord matters.  Determine to honor God who has a plan for your life. Joseph, David, Daniel among others remained available for God to accomplish his plan in and through their lives because they chose to focus on Him.  Are you consciously keeping on the higher lane of refusing to be a victim of other people’s negative emotions?

Some people have a warped idea of living the Christian life. Seeing talented, successful Christians, they attempt to imitate them. For them, the grass on the other side of the fence is always greener. But when they discover that their own gifts are different or their contributions are more modest (or even invisible), they collapse in discouragement and overlook genuine opportunities that are open to them. They have forgotten that they are here to serve Christ, not themselves” (Billy Graham)

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