"What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God."
Reflection by Molly Baskette
How much of our energy goes into being jealous of what others are, do or have, rather than into becoming the selves God made us to be?
You might think ministers are better than ordinary folk at keeping jealousy at bay. Didn't we voluntarily choose an unglamorous, modestly-paid, even odd career compared to our similarly-educated peers? Surely we are not the kind of people who succumb to the green-eyed monster. But sadly, we are among the worst offenders, myself included. I have been jealous of colleagues for having bigger churches, better hairdos, cooler hobbies, more attention.
The letter of James says, "You desire what you do not have - and so you kill." Often our own best selves are the first fatality of the jealous heart.
One of my dear friends, who is wiser, funnier and better coiffed than me, once said, "The problem is: we're all comparing our backstage to other people's front stage." I'm not one bit jealous of her. Why not? Because I've seen her whole stage. I know the totality of her, and so I love her person, I don't envy her persona.
Lots of us are dancing as fast as we can on the front stage, and falling apart behind the scenes. What if we could be more transparent as a rule, let people catch a glimpse of our backstage? We might give them less cause to be jealous and more freedom to love.
God, Stage Mother of us all, You see the show we put on, and You also see what's going on back stage. Help us not to be such divas, miffed when we are upstaged. And give us the humility and courage to let more people behind the curtain. Amen.
Click to order Hark! Advent Devotionals 2012 from the Stillspeaking Writers' Group.