The Poison of Jealousy
For 7 years now I have shown up to rodeos in a red dodge Dakota. With 190,000 miles, it could use a little work. All the major parts of the truck still work, yet with each trip I find more “subtleties” that go along with ownership of said Dakota. For example, the transmission works fine, as long as you don’t want to go backward. Somewhere in the 130,000 miles I have put on it, reverse bid the truck to go one without it. The most recent unique quality that has arisen is the electric windows. Either the window lock is stuck on, or the power panel is out on the passenger side. Don’t get me started on the tailgate, the passenger seat, the gauges, or the radio. Each character flaw and issue makes me want a new truck more and more. Not even new, just working and reliable. I watch my friends drive their new dually’s, their newer diesels, and feel a twinge of jealousy. I watch with envy as they can roll down both windows and back up. But my jealousy doesn’t stop there…
When I began fighting bulls, I told myself that I wanted it to be a ministry. I wanted to fight jr. rodeos and high school rodeos and do ministry alongside rodeo. But if this was truly the case, why then am I getting to do the very thing I set out to do yet feel jealous of guys getting URA, NFPB, or PRCA shows. I just got done doing a Christian rodeo school, will spend the summer at Rodeo Bible camps, and lead a small group of guys through Wild at Heart after rodeos during the summer. I am doing exactly what I asked God to let me do when I first started yet somehow it just isn’t enough now.
I struggle with jealousy. The “I want what you got” mentality can overtake us sometimes. As I said in an earlier post, I have recently tried to understand what Biblical contentment looks like. I am certain, jealousy is not part of it.
I hate what jealousy does to me. It is a cancer, a poison that rots me (Prov. 14.30). It kills from within (Job 5.2), strangling contentment and ultimately life. It pushes me closer to every other evil desire (James 3.16). It is a gateway sin. Jealousy gives bloom to theft, lust, arrogance and pride, idolatry, and others. Looking at others, wanting what they have, diminishes and undermines God’s role in our lives. Jealousy never says enough, leaving me to desire things I don’t need and can’t afford, ultimately making idols out of things.
I hate what jealousy does to those around me. Nothing ruins friendships, families, and teams faster than jealousy. It tore apart sisters in Genesis 30, when Rachel was jealous of Leah. It tore apart Joseph and his brothers in Genesis 37. It tore apart the Church at Corinth when Paul wrote to them: “You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly?”
But most importantly, I hate jealousy says about me. In the previous verse, found in 1 Corinthians 3, Paul points out the root of the jealousy that divided the church at Corinth. The root of their jealousy is the same as mine: worldliness and immaturity; the worldliness that says that I must possess as much as I can and more than anyone else; the immaturity that says God’s gifts to others are somehow better than those He has given me. Jealousy reveals how far from Jesus way I often stray and how far from a transformed mind I possess.
Jealousy was at the root of the very first sin. You may not remember that first conversation between Eve and the Serpent. Satan says to Eve: “God knows that when you eat of it, your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Gen 3.5) Translation: “God’s got it good, don’t you want it good too?” Eve wanted to be like God. Was she jealous of His position, power, knowledge, and authority? Yes. Jealousy was at the root of that sin, like it is so many of mine.
Combating jealousy is simple in theory and hard in application. Jealousy stems from an inadequate view of God. When we change our thinking about God, we change our actions. Theologians would say it this way: orthodoxy changes orthopraxy. Right thinking leads to right living. When we believe that God is powerful to act in our lives, interested enough to do so, and good enough to provide good things, suddenly the possessions, gifts, abilities, and talents of others, are not desirable to us, for we have our own stuff to be thankful for. When we are able to see the blessings and gifts in our lives, we are able to celebrate without envy and jealousy those in the lives of others. This puts us on the verge of contentment.
My truck runs, I love the rodeo family and associations that I am apart of. I love the people I have been blessed to get to know through my career and have got to see towns, cities, and states that I certainly would never visit without rodeo. God has blessed me greatly and every thought of jealousy that I posses is a slap to His gracious face.