Have you ever experienced clapping for someone else but you have this nagging feeling inside that you deserved it more? Have you ever tried going through the day without comparing yourself with someone else?
In today’s society, we are being fed with ideas of competition and dissatisfaction which is a far cry from what God would’ve wanted from us. As we continue to study the book of John, let us shift our focus from Jesus to John, and let us open our hearts and minds as we learn from him who faced, fought, and won the temptation of jealousy.
The Life of John the Baptist
“He must become greater; I must become less.” This is not just any popular saying. This is actually found in John 3:30, and the one who said it was no other than John the Baptist.
John the Baptist was the first prophet to emerge after the silent years (around 400 years). His birth was prophesied 700 years before (Malachi 4:5-6 and Isaiah 40:3-5). He was the messenger in Malachi; He was the voice crying out in the desert in Isaiah. John the Baptist was baptizing people for repentance. He was preparing the way for the Lord.
Both John and Jesus preached and baptized in the Judean countryside. For John’s disciples, they felt like there was a competition going on and they were disheartened because they noticed that the attention has now shifted from John to Jesus.
This was an opportunity for temptation to set in: the temptation to be jealous of someone’s success. How did John react to this prodding of his disciples? Did he allow it to blur his vision, or did he continue to fix his eyes on the Messiah?
We Were Called to Complete, and Not to Compete (John 3:25-27)
Our society is structured to compel us to measure our achievements against those of others. Every day we see competition: in the government, workplaces, schools, playground, and even at home. We sometimes compete with the smallest matter.
For the same reason, the spirit of jealousy sometimes enters the churches – this is not the physical church, but the believers themselves. John’s mission was to point to the people who the Messiah is. But because of the competitiveness of his disciples, they lost sight of their mission.
In the race that we are running, let us not forget our purpose. Let us not lose sight of where we are supposed to be and what we are supposed to do. Pastora Noreen throws these two questions at us:
“What is the use of running fast if we’re going in the wrong direction?”
“What is the use of finishing first if we ended at the wrong place?”
When we are so caught up with running the race at full speed, we tend to lose our focus, our direction. In life’s race, speed doesn’t matter. What matters is that you don’t forget your calling.
Allow God to Be In Control
You don’t steer away from what God has called you for. In being fast in the race, you may accumulate a lot of worldly things and achievements, but it may be far from what God has planned for you – you’ll end up in the wrong place.
In Numbers 11:26-29, Joshua was reprimanded by Moses for telling him to stop Eldad and Medad from prophesying. This was a result of Joshua’s jealousy towards the two elders who prophesied even if they didn’t go to the tent with the other elders. They also weren’t leaders!
1 Samuel 18-29 shows what happened to Saul when he was consumed by jealousy toward David. More than once he attempted to kill David. Because of his jealousy, the kingdom was divided and Saul’s family died.
To be jealous of somebody or even of a church is just a regrettable competition. Nothing good will come from it. When some people would like to attend another church, we should not be worried.
Instead, we should allow God to be in control. When we see people getting angry because they are jealous, we need to pray for them. When we see that our hearts are getting angry because we are jealous, we need to pray about it. This is not the will of God for us.
Our Role is Not Our Reward – The Lord is Our Reward
We need to remember that in our life, we are not to elevate ourselves but to elevate God. To serve God is not to have more titles in your name but to have more of God in our lives. In John 3:29, John compares himself as the best man and Jesus as the groom.
His roles are that of a.) a messenger – the bearer of messages to and from the groom and bride; b.) the one who sends out the invitation for the wedding – making sure that all the loved ones of the groom and bride are in the wedding, and c.) to be the doorkeeper of the chamber – to make sure that it is the groom who will enter the chamber.
The parable of the talents tells us the story of what the three servants did with the talents the master had assigned to them. It also shows us that if you make the master happy, you will have your reward. Take for example the lives of these people: T.D. Jakes.
Before he became a pastor, he used to clean the toilets in their church; Chuck Swindoll wanted to be a part of the marching band prior to becoming a pastor; John MacArthur loved football but followed his parent’s advice to serve the Lord.
Through their lives, let us be reminded that the little things we do for the Lord will cause Him (the Lord) to elevate us. Jesus upheld John to the crowds in Matthew 11:7, and He will do the same to us. Keep in mind then that blessings flow to those who: obey, trust, and remain faithful in the Lord.
Let God Increase, and We (servants of the Lord) Decrease
Sad as it may seem, everything must come to an end. In the church or anywhere else, there will always be someone better than us. We must accept the truth that we are not indispensable.
The talents, gifts, and skills that we have all come from God so we do not have the right to become selfishly proud of what we were able to achieve. We must keep in mind that all glory belongs to God.
The center stage is not ours – it belongs to God alone. As long as it remains that way, there is nothing we should worry about.
As followers of Christ, let our mission be to live a life that points to Jesus. He has called us and equipped us – all glory and praise belong to Him alone. Let us be genuinely happy not for what we were able to do, but that what we did led others to Christ.
Brothers and sisters, let us not let the spirit of jealousy enter us. Instead, let us remember that we are called to complete and not to compete; the Lord is our reward, and we should let God increase, and we decrease.