Thursday, March 05, 2015

Beware the Green-Eyed Monster

By Colleen O’Sullivan

Israel loved Joseph best of all his sons, for he was the child of his old age; and he had made him a long tunic.  When his brothers saw that their father loved him best of all his sons, they hated him so much that they would not even greet him.  (Genesis 37:3-4)

Lord, may we have hearts filled with gratitude and overflowing with thanksgiving.  May there be no room for the seed of jealousy to sprout and take hold.

Over the course of human history, jealousy has split up many a couple, alienated siblings one from another, and caused needless rifts in families.  Jealousy, like kudzu, is very unattractive and leaves room for little else.  Whatever common sense, gratitude or kindness once resided in our hearts is overpowered and extinguished.

Once jealousy takes root, it mutates and grows like a cancer.  As we see in this snippet from Joseph’s story in the Book of Genesis, the fruit of jealousy’s twisted vines may end up being hatred or murderous rage.

Ironically, the storyteller never says Israel loved only Joseph.  Presumably, he cherished each and every one of his children.  Maybe he did dote on this youngest son, the child he never dreamed of having at his advanced age, but that didn’t mean he didn’t also feel great affection for his older boys.  Sadly, Joseph’s siblings never stopped to count their blessings or to realize that they had everything they needed, most especially a loving father.  Jealousy’s poisonous tentacles had wrapped themselves too tightly around their hearts.

They conspired to murder their younger brother but ended up “only” selling him into slavery.  Their actions, rooted in jealousy, caused Joseph years of needless separation from his family and brought deep grief upon their father.  They also sentenced themselves to lifetimes weighed down by sin and guilt.

What was the point?  What did they gain?  Nothing, as far as I can see.  Jealous people are seldom satisfied or happy, because there’s always that suspicion that someone else has what rightfully should be theirs.  Jealous people are not grateful.  They seldom thank God for their blessings.  They can never trust that what they have been given is sufficient for their needs.

During Lent we examine our hearts.  If what we find there is jealousy, maybe our gaze is fixed in the wrong direction.  Instead of focusing on those around us and what they have that we imagine should be ours, try looking to God and taking inventory of all the gifts you have received from God.  You might find yourself overwhelmed if you start making a list of all God has given you.  A good way to do this is to review your day with the Lord each night.  Recount all the blessings of the day and give thanks.  Do this daily for long enough and your life will become a life lived out of gratitude. You’ll forget all about checking to see if the grass looks greener on any other side.

Truly, a grateful heart cannot at the same time be a jealous heart.

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