You don’t want to be jealous, but you are. You feel overlooked and underappreciated.
Someone else made the cut for the track team.
Your coworker got that promotion at Chipotle.
Your best friend just became class president.
You know these are good things, but still you feel overlooked and underappreciated. I can relate.
A Front-Row Seat
I felt overlooked and underappreciated recently. I was given a behind-the-scenes job that gave me a front-row seat to others being being called up on stage to share their wisdom with others. Inside, instead of celebrating their opportunity, I felt like someone was cruelly twisting a knife in my stomach.
“I can do a great job, too,” I muttered to myself. “I have just as much to offer.”
A couple days later, while sitting on a pew on a Sunday morning, I heard the pastor briefly allude to James 3:13–18. Verses 14 and 15 nailed me to the wall:
If you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts . . . this is . . . demonic.
My Jealousy Is . . . Demonic?
Waaaaaaiiiiiiiiitttttttt . . . demonic?!
Yep. Turns out you don’t have to dabble in the occult to serve the devil’s interests; you simply have to be filled with bitter jealousy and selfish ambition. YIKES!
In James 3:13–18, James exposes true—and counterfeit—“wisdom.” There’s:
The “real-deal-wisdom” that comes from God and shows itself in humility, and,
This counterfeit “wisdom” that comes from Satan and shows itself in bitter jealousy and selfish ambition.
If we are truly wise—if we really do have lots to offer others—we will prove it through our “meekness,” our humility (v. 13). But if, instead, we are filled with bitter jealousy and selfish ambition, we prove that we are not nearly as wise as we think we are (vv. 14–15).
We want to walk the path of wisdom, right? We don’t want to dabble with the deeds of darkness, do we? So what can we do the next time we’re feeling overlooked and underappreciated?
The Next Time We Feel Overlooked
He—the Creator and King—willingly made Himself nothing and took on the form of a servant (Phil. 2:7). He—“very God of very God”—was despised and rejected by humanity (Isa. 53:3). He was made perfect through suffering (Heb. 2:10). This, by the way, doesn’t mean He had to be perfected morally; it means His suffering made Him the perfect Savior for broken humanity.
As we remember Jesus, let’s cry out to Him for help to embrace His way of meekness.
As we remember Jesus, let’s cry out to Him for help to embrace His way of meekness. Repent with me of our bitter jealousy and selfish ambition. These are demonic; they bear no resemblance to our older Brother, Jesus. Instead, let’s embrace “the wisdom from above,” that’s “pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere” (James 3:17). When we do, we will sow “a harvest of righteousness” (v. 18)
How about you? Is your life marked by humility . . . or selfish ambition? Are you pursuing the way of wisdom . . . or the way of the demonic?
A Prayer for the Jealous in Heart
Jesus, You are my merciful, faithful High Priest. You sympathize with me in my weakness, because You too lived as a human being—but perfectly, as I have not. I want to pursue the way of wisdom, but I cannot do it on my own. Help me. As I surrender to Your Holy Spirit in me, transform me into Your beautiful, spittin’ image. I request this for Your glory, my joy, and the good of all those around me. Amen.
At some point this school year you may bump into a girl who outshines you: on the basketball court, in science class, on the piano . . . or maybe with how well she is liked by others and how beautiful she is.
If and when you start noticing that you’re:
comparing yourself with her
criticizing her (if only in your thoughts)
being ungrateful for the gifts God has given you
minimizing the gifts God has given her
feeling hatred toward her . . .
. . . you can be glad.
Why? Because this girl’s success is shining the spotlight on the sin of envy in your life. That is a good thing because all sin is a disease that will kill you if left unchecked. Envy will destroy you . . . unless you ask for God’s help to destroy it!
How can you fight back against envy? The key lies in 1 Peter 2:1–3:
So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation—if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.
First, when envy pops up, you and I need to “put it away.” Wage war against it. Confess it as sin to God. Turn away from it and have nothing more to do with it.
Envy will destroy you . . . unless you ask for God’s help to destroy it!
Second, instead of miserably focusing on others’ successes, you and I need to take the “medicine” of the pure spiritual milk of God’s goodness toward us.
Jonathan Edwards does just that in this paragraph (read slowly so you don’t miss these rich thoughts that he wrote way back in the 1700s):
Christ came into the world to deliver us from the fruits of Satan’s envy towards us. The devil being miserable himself, envied mankind that happiness which they had, and could not bear to see our first parents in their happy state in Eden, and therefore exerted himself to the utmost to ruin them, and accomplished it. The gospel teaches how Christ came into the world to destroy the works of the devil, and deliver us from that misery into which his envy had brought us.
When Jesus came into the world, He humbled Himself beyond what we can imagine and gave everything for us. And He did it joyfully. I love how Ed Welch points to Luke 12:32 (“Your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom”) and says, “Fathers can give begrudgingly and kings can give simply because they made an oath, but God gives out of his pleasure and delight.”
Jonathan Edwards says it like this,
The doctrines of the gospel teach us how far Jesus Christ was from grudging us anything which he could do for or give to us. He did not grudge us a life spent in labor and suffering; he did not grudge us his own precious blood; he hath not grudged us a sitting with him on his throne in heaven, and being partakers with him of that heavenly kingdom and glory which the Father hath given him.
I have feelings for a guy friend. Feelings that I’ve asked God to take away from me several times, but for whatever reason, He has not. Why did God give me feelings I didn’t ask for? And what does He want me to do?
Short answer: I don’t think He did give you feelings for this guy.
I’m not sure where we got this notion that it’s God’s fault if we feel something we don’t want to feel. James 1:13–15 says:
Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.
Yes, God gave us the capacity to feel, because He made us in His image, and He feels deeply. But I don’t believe He feeds specific feelings into our hearts, like we’d feed a gum ball machine with quarters.
Our feelings ultimately stem from what we’re thinking and believing. Rather than asking God to take away your feelings, examine them the way you’d carefully examine your reflection in the mirror before leaving for school:
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect (Rom. 12:2, emphasis added).
God doesn’t give us our feelings; but we are wise to give our feelings to God. We see the psalmist doing this over and over in the book of Psalms. He pours out his feelings to God, and then he holds his feelings up to the truth of who God is and compares the two.
So the next time you want to blame God for your feelings, first ask yourself:
When did I start to feel this way? What led me to feel this way?
What am I thinking and believing that is contributing to this feeling?
How do my feelings line up with God’s truth? What does God’s Word have to say about what I’m feeling?
Then bring your feelings to God, taking them to His Word and placing them before Him in prayer.
Now it’s your turn. I’d love to hear from you. Do you believe that God is responsible for your feelings? Why or why not?
(I wrote this post before I got married, and I’m just now getting around to posting it here. Sorry for the delay!)
If I could pick only one verse and frame it in my new home as a constant reminder, I would choose Proverbs 19:11, hands down:
Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.
Yeah . . . I’m not so hot at living like this.
Oh, I’ve learned how to keep my cool on the outside. That’s easy for me. I’m a stuffer. But on the inside . . . I’m steaming hot and bothered more times than I’d dare admit!
These days, wedding planning has served to show me just how easily offended I am.
Is there a life circumstance that is squeezing the true colors out of your heart?
For example, if someone told me they couldn’t host an out-of-town wedding party guest overnight, it was far easier for me to assume they were selfish and inhospitable rather than remembering that I didn’t have the full picture of their current schedule and assuming they had a good reason for saying no.
Or if someone said they’d charge me more for a wedding service than they’d originally said they would, I assumed they were greedy and using me rather than assuming that they forgot the original price they’d told me.
You might not be planning a wedding right now, but is there a life circumstance that is squeezing the true colors out of your heart?
Do you feel angry? Insulted? Provoked? Offended? Downright mad?
Are you shocked that someone could be so selfish and thoughtless toward you?
Instead of overlooking an offense (Prov. 19:11), are you doing the exact opposite? Slowly circling it, taking it in from every angle?
I wonder how often we’re needlessly offended by perceived offenses—things that aren’t even real offenses!
What if—rather than shining a spotlight on others’ offenses—I sought to uncover my own?
What if, instead, you and I were to give the same attention to our actual offenses toward a holy God?
How many times a day do I live in a way that displeases Him? How many times a day do I ignore Him? Disregard Him? Rebel against the laws He has given for my good?
What if—rather than shining a spotlight on others’ offenses—I sought to uncover my own?
Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy (Prov. 28:13).
My God has forgiven me my actual offenses by punishing His perfect Son, Jesus, in my place. As a result, He has removed my transgressions from me, as far as the east is from the west (Ps. 103:12)!
How, then, can I refuse to let go of perceived offenses that others commit against me?
If you find yourself battling offenses like me, here are a few steps you can take:
Give it to God, again and again, in prayer.
Remind yourself that you don’t have all the facts. You can’t see the other person’s heart. You’re not the Judge; God is.
Assume the best of others instead of assuming the worst.
Get to the root. Why are you so angry and offended?
Examine your own life. Are you guilty of the very same “sin” you’re accusing your offender of?
I’d love to hear from you. Are you often offended? If so, what do you do? How do you respond—internally and externally?
Emotions. Sometimes they feel like a girl’s best friend, but often they feel like a girl’s worst enemy. Much as we might want to escape them at times, we can’t. So how are we to think about them, and what on earth are we to do with them?
I have much more to learn when it comes to these unruly feelings, but here are thirty things I do know about emotions (in no particular order):
Surprisingly, letting others “in” when you’re feeling sad seems to forge friendships much faster than if you appear to have everything “together.”
Let a few trusted friends know when you’re struggling. Ask for prayer. It will help!
Your emotions don’t have to control you.
Don’t make any big decisions when you’re hungry, angry, lonely, or tired. That’s the time to HALT. (I think I learned this acronym from you, Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth. Thanks for that.)
PMS is real, but it’s not an excuse to sin. Prepare for it by tracking your cycle so you know what to expect, and pray accordingly.
Joy isn’t simply an emotion; it’s a fruit of the Spirit of God (Gal. 5:22).
It’s a beautiful thing when a guy is willing to show emotion from time to time.
God acknowledges that there are things that are truly frightening, and then He tells us not to fear them but to hope in Him (1 Peter 3:6).
Tears are not a weakness.
It is better to cry than to hold it all in.
It’s okay to be angry . . . if you don’t sin (Eph. 4:26).
That being said, anger is rarely righteous (James 1:20).
Examine your emotions often. They’re excellent indicators of what you’re believing, which—if you’re like me—you’ll often need to repent of and replace with truth.
Other times, ignore your emotions. Sometimes it’s best NOT to listen to them or give them even an inch.
Just because you’re a “feeler” doesn’t mean you can’t also be a “thinker.” Don’t let people pigeon-hole you.
There is only one reason we can “not be anxious about anything” (Phil. 4:6). The answer lies in the verse just before this: “The Lord is near.” (Thanks for this insight, Paul David Tripp.)
True joy is found in God’s presence (Ps. 16:11). Therefore, you can be happy anywhere, even in a nursing home! (I’ve never forgotten you telling me this at Applebee’s years ago, Maria Johnson.)
There’s time to have fun, but it’s also important to be serious (1 Peter 5:8).
Sadness won’t kill you. It is okay to feel sad this side of heaven. In fact, good can even come from it.
Once you’ve suffered and been comforted, you’ll be better equipped to encourage others in similar situations (2 Cor. 1:3–5).
Emotions change nearly as often as the nighttime sky; God’s truth never changes.
Cutting or harming yourself in any way is not the answer to the inner pain you feel.
Piano keys are a great, safe way to express your emotions. If you don’t play the piano, find another safe, healthy way to process your emotions.
Know yourself well enough to know whether you need to be with people when you’re feeling emotional or whether time alone would help.
Sugar only makes you feel more crazy.
It’s wise to keep your mouth shut when you’re feeling especially emotional (Prov. 29:11).
At the same time, if you’re struggling with your emotions, let those around you know that if they “see” anything on your face, it’s not them; you’re just having a rough day. (Thanks for this, Wes Ward.)
Those who don’t feel deeply often wish they could. Don’t despise your emotions; God can use them for good.
1. Your tears are seen by God. He doesn’t miss a single one.
“Thus says the LORD, the God of David your father: I have heard your prayer; I have seen your tears. Behold, I will heal you” (2 Kings 20:5).
“You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?” (Ps. 56:8).
Are you tempted to believe God doesn’t see or care about your pain? If so, how does that line up with this truth from His Word?
2. God has been known to change His mind as a result of our tears and prayers.
“Go and say to Hezekiah, thus says the LORD, the God of David your father: I have heard your prayer; I have seen your tears. Behold, I will add fifteen years to your life” (Isa. 38:5).
What are you asking and trusting God to change?
3. God weeps, too.
“In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence” (Heb. 5:7).
4. There’s a difference between simply crying . . . and crying to God.
“My friends scorn me; my eye pours out tears to God” (Job 16:20).
Are you aware of God while you’re crying?
5. Praying and tears go together.
“Hear my prayer, O LORD, and give ear to my cry; hold not your peace at my tears!” (Ps. 39:12).
Are you praying while you’re crying?
6. Serving the Lord and tears go together.
“Serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials” (Acts 20:19).
“For three years I did not cease night or day to admonish every one with tears” (Acts 20:31).
How often does the work you are doing for God lead you to tears?
7. Loving others and tears go together.
“I wrote to you out of much affliction and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to cause you pain but to let you know the abundant love that I have for you” (2 Cor. 2:4).
If tears are any indication, how deeply do you love others?
8. We should cry over what breaks God’s heart.
“My eyes shed streams of tears, because people do not keep your law” (Ps. 119:136).
Are your tears self-centered or God-centered?
9. Tears aren’t just for girls.
In Psalm 6:6, David says:
“I am weary with my moaning; every night I flood my bed with tears; I drench my couch with my weeping.”
Have you believed the lie that it’s a weakness for guys to cry?
10. There will be seasons of nearly endless tears. But it’s just that. A season . . . that will turn into a new season.
“Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning” (Ps. 30:5).
“Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy! He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him” (Ps. 126:5–6).
Will you choose to believe in your pain right now that life will not always be like this? Because it won’t be.
11. Sometimes the most appropriate response we can have is to cry.
“Their heart cried to the Lord. O wall of the daughter of Zion, let tears stream down like a torrent day and night! Give yourself no rest, your eyes no respite!” (Lam. 2:18).
When is the last time you cried over the state of the world? Your nation? Your city? Your church? Your school? Your family?
12. Sometimes God doesn’t want us to cry anymore.
“Thus says the LORD: ‘Keep your voice from weeping, and your eyes from tears, for there is a reward for your work, declares the LORD, and they shall come back from the land of the enemy’” (Jer. 31:16).
Could it be that you have cried enough, that it is time to look ahead to what God will do?
13. Other people might be uncomfortable with your tears, but God is not.
“And standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment. . . . Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, ‘Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair’” (Luke 7:38, 44).
You don’t have to hide your tears from God.
14. God comforts those who are hurting.
“God, who comforts the downcast” (2 Cor. 7:6).
“The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit” (Ps. 34:18).
Are you allowing God to comfort you?
15. There are two kinds of tears: godly tears and worldly tears.
“Godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death” (2 Cor. 7:10).
Examine your tears. Are they godly or worldly? (Why are you crying?)
16. It is possible to cry without actually repenting of your sin.
“Afterward, when [Esau] desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears” (Heb. 12:17).
Have you done more than just cry? Have you repented of all known sin?
17. One day God Himself will wipe away the last of your tears.
“He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the LORD has spoken” (Isa. 25:8).
Are you waiting and watching for Christ’s return with great hope?