Core scripture: “A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot.” (Proverbs 14:30)
Message: My Fellowship of Christian Athletes huddle celebrated See You At The Pole on Wednesday, September 22. This is a nation-wide event where students all over the country gather around school flagpoles to pray for their communities on the same day. We were blessed to pull in about 20 students to pray! After praying in the coolness of the crisp autumn air, we went inside and enjoyed donuts together, listening to my FCA friend and colleague, Jodie, talk about the importance of prayer.
What a beautiful morning! There was nothing that could ruin that feeling of intimacy as we connected with the Lord in prayer. I went about my morning, teaching with an extra pep in my step, until I took a quick break over my plan hour, pulling out my phone. There was a text waiting for me from my friend at a local middle school up the road from us. She had led her FCA huddle in See You At The Pole, and my jaw dropped as I saw a snapshot of 70 middle schoolers holding hands around the flagpole.
Satan’s lies were so believable at that point. Look at that! They had 70 students, and you pulled in … how many? 20? Wow, some FCA huddle you have! Why do you even try? You will never compare to the other middle schools in Olathe. Your huddle is laughable! Nobody even cares to come. So sad that you must endure this, Mr. Daniels. So sad.
The jealousy blackened my heart. I tried to retract those lies and be content with what I had, but it was just too much. The remainder of that day, I stewed with bitterness, envy, and complaints. I pulled up that photo numerous times, wondering how? How do they get so many students? Why does our school not have as many? Is it me? Is it something else? I went to the Lord in prayer, pouring out my heart to Him.
He listened of course. I sounded a bit like Veruca Salt from Willy Wonka. Putting on my best snobby, British accent, I whined and complained. “I want 70 students at my FCA huddle, too, Daddy! I want it now!” Pretty pathetic. God probably chuckled lightly, patting me on my head, smiling knowingly. How did God respond? He responded with His Word in all its perfectness.
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant.” (1 Corinthians 13:4)
“But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.” (James 3:14-16)
“Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” (Philippians 2:3)
I began to see the big picture. That jealousy rooted deep in the depths of my soul was not healthy. It was dissolving away any shred of goodness inside me. My bones were rotting away. Yet amidst the cancerous venom that plagued me, the Lord planted new seeds of truth to combat Satan’s lies. Seeds of contentment. Seeds of praise. That goodness began to slowly overtake my heart.
Paul spoke to me in Philippians 4:11-13, saying, “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”
He continues in 1 Timothy 6:6-8, saying, “Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.”
Finally, when Moses received the Ten Commandments on Mount Siani, Exodus 20:17 states, “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.”
The Lord’s perspective was so much better! God didn’t want me to be envious. He wanted me to revel in their joy of getting such incredible participation! He wanted me to smile at my intimate, enjoyable FCA huddle! He wanted me to be grateful for His many blessings that He pours out like a waterfall! I had learned an extremely valuable lesson.
You know, there are many areas a teacher might trip up in this area. Envious of better teachers. Teachers with better pay in different districts. Better benefits. Smaller class sizes. Better resources. Higher student test scores. Teachers that have better athletes. Better administration. Better community support. Your heart can be saturated with plenty of jealousy if you are not careful.
The solution? Contentment. Happiness. Joy. Praise! To me that sounds so much better than the alternative. If weeds of jealousy begin to take root in your heart, kill it with God’s goodness.
Challenge: Do a self-assessment. Where do you fall into the pit of jealousy? Open God’s Word and read about Paul’s perspective. This man had every reason to be jealous of others getting better treatment than he did, yet he took his imprisonment as a blessing to suffer as Christ suffered for us.
Prayer points: Lift up the following areas to the Lord …
- Praise God for the numerous blessings He lovingly pours out!
- Pray that you will be content no matter what the circumstance.
Just for fun: I showed this old Mike Myers Saturday Night Live sketch to my brother-in-law last weekend, and we could not stop laughing. Check it out below.
Prayer: Lord, cleanse my heart of bitter jealousy. Help me be content with Your blessings, giving You all the glory. Amen.