I’m going to make a confession. I have a hard time celebrating the success of others. I’ve attempted to excuse this through the “I’m just competitive” justification, but that’s simply nonsense. Let’s rightly call it jealousy and move forward.
As always, God gives us the cure. We just have to apply the prescription. Jesus teaches us how to handle this jealousy-poison in Matthew 20.
20 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. 2 He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard.
3 “About nine in the morning he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. 4 He told them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ 5 So they went.
“He went out again about noon and about three in the afternoon and did the same thing. 6 About five in the afternoon he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, ‘Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’
7 “‘Because no one has hired us,’ they answered.
“He said to them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard.’
8 “When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.’
9 “The workers who were hired about five in the afternoon came and each received a denarius. 10 So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. 11 When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. 12 ‘These who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’
13 “But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? 14 Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. 15 Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’
16 “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”
The problem begins with comparison. When I look at another’s blessings and compare them to my own, I’ve put myself in the same position as the grumbling workers who were hired first. I’m assigning myself the right to decide how much each person should receive and jealousy says I should get the most. It’s not my job to decide on the distribution of blessings (they are not mine to give) and ranking my own against others is a destructive, selfish way to live. It is directly in line with the devil’s character of “me first”.
So what’s the alternative? “Take your pay and go” tells me to receive my blessings in a posture of gratitude, not comparison. I can list blessing after blessing that I did not deserve, but God gave to me anyway (for that matter, do we ever deserve a blessing?). I have been loved when I was unloveable. I have been rescued when my disobedience had left me lost. My prayers have been answered time and again. When my focus remains on what I have been given and not on what I perceive that others have received, then I’ve found the cure to jealousy.
Thank you God for your blessings, not just to me, but to all. Thank you for your mercy, compassion, grace, and generosity. Please allow me to bless another today just as you have blessed me. Amen.