Jump Start # 2420
1 Corinthians 13:4 “Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant.”
I had a birthday last week. It wasn’t one of those milestone ones, but I am creeping closer and closer to the next milestone. All around me, folks my age are retiring. That question is now being asked of me, “How much longer?” I don’t know if that is a reflection of my age or my preaching. I have long shot past the tag of being a “young preacher.” I see many young fireballs who are now preaching. They are good, smart and connecting well with audiences. They are so talented and are finding great ways to reach out to others, especially through videos. Get a few of them together and off they go talking about things I do not understand, books I have never heard of, and wonderful insights into God’s word. What I see in these young preachers is an amazing network that I never had when I was their age. They seem to be connected together and they use each other for ideas and help. When I started preaching, we wrote letters. Mailed them. Then waited and waited for a person to write us back. Most of us were dirt poor, and long distance phone calls was a big deal. I love to see the connections, the interactions and the network of friendships among them.
And, all of this takes us to one of those love expressions in our passage today. Love is not jealous. Jealousy can ruin a good thing. It can make one bitter, sour and just a pain to be around. Some of us as we age we get grumpy. Things are not the same and they are not going to go back that way. They never do. We shop differently today. We bank differently today. We have so many tools that make learning easier, faster and better than ever before. And, among us older preachers, if not careful, we can join the grumpy crowd and complain about all these young preachers. We need to be the ones who are encouraging them, helping them, and getting out of their way so those young talents can soar to the heavens. Our old stories and our old ways sometimes are just that, old. Many do not understand them and telling them over and over leaves the impression that we want to return back to them.
Jealousy can kill any relationship. Put it in a marriage and the fur will fly with accusations, and unkind words. Put it in the midst of siblings, like Joseph’s family, and people will quit talking to each other. Put it in a congregation, and the back biting, gossip and evil suspicions will drive people away. And, sprinkle a little jealousy among preachers and one will find fault where there isn’t any.
Jealousy has led to murder. Jealousy has killed marriages. Jealousy has ruined churches. And, jealousy can keep our souls from Heaven. A person can be jealous of just about anything. Some have better looks. Some have more talent. Some have more money. Some live in bigger homes. Some went to better colleges. Some have better jobs. Jealous is always about someone having something better than I do. And, rather than rejoicing for them, it burns our biscuits. We feel compelled to complain about it. We must tell others about it. We can’t sleep because we are so obsessed with it. We think badly towards the other person. We become bitter, angry and miserable. Jealousy is a terrible place to be in.
So, how does one not be jealous.
First, understand that God has made each of us uniquely individual. Like fingerprints, each of us have different talents, opportunities, and influences in our lives. No two of us are the same, even from the same family. God doesn’t make junk, we do. You are amazing and can do things that others cannot. You have been placed here by God in this generation for His purpose. You can make such a difference and do so much good. My dearest friends are preachers. I love listening to them preach. They can bring such great lessons from even a very simple passage. There was a time in my life when I listened to them and I felt like giving up. Why try? I could never preach like they do. They were hitting home runs and I was still hitting foul balls. I could look at the same verse they did and never see what they saw. But I stayed with it. I found what I was good at. I worked at. I worked hard. I realized that I don’t have to be like them. We are not in a contest. It doesn’t matter who is the best, and that very thought is crushed if we truly are humble. I found what I could do. I found a way that touched lives. I found that I can do what God wants. That took my eyes off trying to be like my friends and simply tried to be the best me that I could be. Some people are gifted just differently than we are. No matter how hard you try, some will never look like others. Some are wired differently than others. Some are quiet by nature. There is nothing wrong with that. But to trying to change that usually backfires and something horrible happens. In baseball, some can hit homeruns more than others. What are the “others” to do? Quit? Complain? Or, be thankful that you have those guys on your team. Part of jealousy is looking too much at the other person. We feel inferior. What helps is realizing that you have talents and you can do things in a special way. Be you and be the best you that you can.
Second, rather than being jealous of others, learn from them. This is why I like being around young preachers. They help me. I listen to them. I find out what they are reading. My way of doing things isn’t always the best, most efficient or even up to date. When this takes place instead of being jealous, you admire someone and you become a pupil and learn from them. The jealous heart will keep that from happening. Jealousy will want to destroy the other and not learn from them. Be thankful that people are in your life that you can imitate, learn from and be better. You don’t have to be like them, but you can see what they are doing and you can improve yourself.
Third, some of the things we are jealous of are vain and do not matter. A bigger house. A newer car. A designer watch. Why be upset over stuff? Why ruin your attitude, your spirit and drown in misery over stuff? Someone will always have the newest, fanciest, and best. Latest Iphone. Newest big screen TV. Robot lawnmower. It’s great that some can have those things, but don’t trash them because they do and you don’t. In the end, it’s just stuff. Stuff that wears out, needs replacing and always needs to be updated. There are many things much more important than all this stuff. Relationships. Friendships. Love. Encouragement. Let’s not forget about those poor, poor disciples in the first century. Many were slaves and servants. But we look to their faith, their convictions and here it is with all of our stuff, and we realize that we need to be more like them. Keep the right perspective. Keep stuff in it’s place.
Fourth, as a child of God you have the greatest gift and blessings of all, forgiveness and a relationship with the Lord. There is no price tag on that. There is nothing that can take that away from you, except you. Jesus became poor that we might become rich. It’s not about 401s, real estate and exotic vacations. It’s about faith, conviction and hope in Christ. We are a people that are headed to Heaven. We are Heaven Bound! Every waking moment of this day, you can talk to God. Anywhere you are, you can talk to God. You can’t do that with the President. You can’t do that with the CEO. You can’t even do that with your family. But God’s there. He’s with you, He’s for you, and He loves you. What have I to be jealous of? What more could I want? We are citizens of Heaven.
Love is not jealous. Paul wrote this to a church that was jealous about spiritual gifts. Paul’s words fit even today. Love and jealousy cannot exist in the same heart. One will drive out the other. So, which will I allow in my heart? Love or jealousy? One is of God (love), and one is of Satan (Jealousy). Both are knocking on the door of your heart, but only one can come in. Your choice. Which will it be?