I was reminded of a story that I heard about a year ago. It took place on a certain day, with a certain well-known actress that decided to eat where a certain young man was waiting tables. The dinner happened to take place on the waiters’ birthday, so the actress decided to leave him a mega-huge tip. Apparently, over the years this famous actress got to know the waiter, took a liking to him and wanted to do something nice for him on his birthday. And when I say something nice for his birthday, I mean writing him a nice $25,000 dollar check. (No need to rub your eyes ... it's not $250, $2,500, it is twenty-five thousand dollars).
Did you pick your jaw up from the ground yet?
Good, the story goes on … When his co-workers became aware of the generous tip the work environment quickly became hostile. The friendly waiter went from friend to foe overnight. The question in my mind is, Why? Why can't people be happy for others?
There is this profound verse in the Bible found in the book of Romans that reads, “Rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those that weep." At first glance, we might be inclined to think that the difficult part of the verse is "weeping with those that weep." But this is not true. Most of us are really good at being there for others when they are down and need a hand. Most of us go out of our way to comfort our loved ones when they are hurting. More often, the challenging aspect of that verse is when Paul writes, "Rejoice with those that rejoice." Why is it more difficult to rejoice with those that are happy or those that find good fortune?
Let’s talk about jealousy & envy for a moment:
Jealousy: The word "jealous" in the Webster's dictionary is defined as "zealous vigilance." That definition seems a bit confusing, at least to me. Here is what the Bible teaches about jealousy, "Anger is cruel and fury overwhelming, but who can stand before jealousy?" (Proverbs 27:4). Jealously often stems from unmet expectations (either personally or those you place on others around you), a sense of entitlement, insecurities, or not knowing your self-worth.
Envy: Envy is defined as "a feeling of discontent and resentment aroused by another's desirable possessions or qualities, accompanied by a strong desire to have them for oneself." Again, the Scriptures speak about envy in Proverbs,”A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot” (14:30). Jealousy & envy are both killers. They will eat you alive and waste you away; they are both vicious taskmasters. John D. Rockefeller replied when he was asked how much money is enough. "Just one more dollar …”
-Envy grows in your heart when someone gets a new(er) car than your 1997 Buick Le Sabre. The Le Sabre that does not have AC, the passenger door lock does not work, and when you drive it down the street people point and yell, "there goes the couch on wheels!!"
-Jealousy creeps in your mind when someone gets a promotion in the same department you have been working in since Reagan was in the White House.
-Hatred fills your bones when your slacker friend buys a lottery ticket and hits the big-time.
It's OK, really, I'll just set my alarm for 5 a.m. while she sleeps in EVERYDAY of her life!
See the question isn’t “How would you feel about a $25,000 tip?”
Rather, “How would you feel about someone else getting a $25,000 tip?”
The truth is, the sting of your own personal selfishness creeps up when good things happen to others. Their good fortune is a mirror into your soul. Jealously and envy are a reflection of what is going on inside of your mind and heart. In short, this is more about you than them.
The Cure: Set Your Heart on the things above.
When someone trusts Jesus a new perspective will follow. Paul eloquently states, "Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things" (Col. 3:1-2). The cure for envy and jealously is joining God's intention for your life --that is having your heart and mind focused UPward instead of downward.
When good things happen to others how do you respond?