In church we talk a lot about how our flesh man is always at war with the spiritual man. Oftentimes Satan uses the flesh part of us to distract us from our relationship with Jesus and our mission in the kingdom to spread the Gospel. Last Sunday we specifically talked about how the things that we felt like we were deprived of as a child lead us to focus on fixing those problems ourselves and away from focusing on the Kingdom. This is a tough one for me. I never really felt that I was deprived of that much as a kid. I have good parents and good siblings. Despite this, I still get really hung up with the ideas of fairness and jealousy. Why? As some of you may know, I am the baby of my family. Although I grew up thinking that I was not the baby, my brothers and having my own boys has made me realize that I absolutely am the baby of the family.
Growing up, my older brother was how we say… a little rebellious. I learned at a young age that if I just did the opposite of Chris, I would get approval. This went late into my high school years. If he wanted to be popular and have girlfriends (which often lead to him getting in trouble), I would stay at home and avoid anything that resembled being a social butterfly. This was how I thought I would get my acceptance. I would be the favorite.
Seeking love and approval from a parent is fine, but anytime we seek anything at the cost of others this will lead to envy and jealousy. I have found that over the years trying to be better than others for approval is a hole inside of you that can never be filled. You will always want more.
Here is the problem with thinking that you are the favorite, you are always one big mistake away from losing your identity. I still have trouble sharing approval with other people because, somehow I feel that I have to be special. You can be special too, but I have to be the MOST special. If someone gets more approval than me or doesn’t make the same sacrifices for approval that I do, I can get really jealous or feel that the situation is unfair.
Over the last two years, I have come to realize that the jealousy and selfishness in my life is not something that is just going to go away. I have tried rationalizing my behavior. I have tried reasoning my way through the feeling. I have spent a lot of time trying to suppress the emotions. None of this works. For me, the only way to deal with my inner man and Satan’s attacks is war. Everyday I must wake up and fight towards killing my inner man. In Galatians 5:24 it says, “And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.” For me, the best tool for this is scripture and the reasoning that comes from scripture.
In past sermons, Pa said something to me that made a lot of sense. If we have jealousy or envy, it is because we feel that Jesus is not enough. What ever inadequacies we have in our life, we feel that He is not able to meet these. If we feel that we do not have love, it is because we feel that His love is not enough. If we feel jealous, it is because we feel that His approval is not enough. If we feel that things are unfair, it is because His justice is not enough. So when I feel jealousy or frustration, I tell myself that He is enough. His approval is enough. His love is enough. His justice is enough. I don’t have to compete with others. He is enough, and I trust this. “But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).
The other scripture that has been coming to me a lot is, “The just shall live by faith.” This helps me, because it reminds me that we don’t live by and do not have to give into our emotions. No matter what I feel, I know what His promises are. I know what He is and what He will do. When I live by faith, I do not have to act on my inner struggle. I am free to treat others how Jesus would treat them. “For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, ‘The just shall live by faith” (Romans 1:17).
In 1 Peter 5:8 it says, “Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary the devil walketh about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” This means that we get up every day ready to do battle with Satan and our carnal flesh. We must arm ourselves with the word of God and the belief that Jesus is right beside us and that He is enough.
— Written by Jeremiah