So, you're in the wilderness. Cool! Me too. Lately when other people tell me they're in the wilderness, I literally respond, "Awesome! There's no better place to be." I believe that. One time I was watching stories on Instagram and my good friend Chelsea's popped up and she had written this really beautiful and eloquent thing: "The mountain tops are for work, valleys are for romance." I thought wow, that's really pretty and profound. And then I laughed because I saw she had tagged me as the one she was quoting. I barely remember saying that to her. I think I wrote it on a card. Just further evidence that my best stuff doesn't come from me because I literally can't remember I said it.
Anyway, that's what Desert Diary #3 will be about: romance. But this one, good ol' #2, is about older brothers. Catch up on Desert Diary #1 if you missed it.
K, back to older brothers. I do have one and he's awesome but this actually isn't about him. This is about Joseph's older brothers. Do you remember the story of Joseph? His story is in Genesis chapters 37-50 and he's famous for wearing a technicolor dream coat, or as it's put in scripture "a robe of many colors." To give you a brief recap, Joseph was the youngest, he was favored (his dad loved him more than his other sons) and he was gifted (he was smart, attractive, likable, and he could interpret dreams). Then there's this whole thing where his brothers sell him into slavery and he ends up working in Pharaoh's house in Egypt. Then he goes to prison. But then he goes back to Pharaoh's house to basically run the country. But that's not the part of the story that matters right now, though it's very important. What matters comes before all of that, in chapter 37 verse 4:
"But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him and could not speak peacefully to him."
I read this the other day and wrote this down in my bible: "don't be the jealous brother." Yeah, I'm in a wilderness season. God is doing a work in my life that requires me to wait wait wait wait wait wait waittttt wait wAiTtTtt wait. In this season, it is so easy for me to be the jealous brother. In a matter of milliseconds my contentment and peace and focus on the Lord can be derailed if I allow myself to look at other people's lives, envy them and then hate them for what they've got that I don't.
And actually, pressing pause for a minute. Let's follow that chain of events from start to sin. Step one: look. Step two: see. Step three: sin. The looking wasn't bad. It's not wrong to look at others. The seeing wasn't bad, it's not bad to see their lives and understand what their lives look like. But those are the steps that open the door to sin. I have to first look then see to become sinful with jealousy, envy, anger, you name it. So much sin starts with the eyes, which is why Christ mentions them in the sermon on the mount. Disciplining the eyes will go a long way for a heart working on trust. K, pressing play again.
So, in a matter of milliseconds my contentment and peace and focus on the Lord can be derailed if I allow myself to LOOK at other people's lives, SEE them, then envy them and hate them for what they've got that I don't. Because guess what, not everyone's lives are the same. It seems some people really get all they want. Some people look like their life is just one big technicolor dream coat. Chances are there's more to the story. But that doesn't need to be true to make it fair. We don't need to justify our wilderness season by saying, "oh, they look like everything's fine, but really they're struggling." That's being a jealous brother. God's work is mysterious, and some people are just more favored than others, period. Some people really do get all the things in life they long for. We have to be okay with that. That's God's prerogative. He reserves the right to give and to take away. He's working out each and every person's sanctification in ways specifically catered to that human. Yet simultaneously, he is a perfectly, infallibly, and wholly good and loving God. If there is a lack in your life that seems to be magnified by the abundance in another's life, you can trust that God will work it out for his glory and your good.
Don't be the jealous brother. Jealousy lead Joseph's brothers to do the unspeakable act of selling him into slavery. Wow. And maybe we're thinking we're off the hook because our dissatisfaction would never lead to something like that, and I'm sure that's true. But Jesus says in the sermon on the mount that if we are even angry at our brother we're liable to judgement... aka, what we've done in our heart we've done in our actions. If I let hate for someone grow in my heart because of jealousy, how is that different than murder? God is about the heart. And he wants yours. And maybe that's the point of this season for you. I think it's the point of this season for me. If I allow myself to entertain envy and jealousy when I see things working out for others, I will miss what God has for me right now, in my wilderness.
Oh, and by the way, who would benefit from me missing what God has for me?
Who knows just how to tempt me into discontentment?
Who knows my weak spots and who hates to see me fully surrendered to what God has for me?
Who toils and toils to prevent us from experiencing the abundant, full life of Christ?
Who would benefit from a jealous brother?
God is about my heart. I don't want my heart to be ugly. I want to live a life worthy of my calling. I don't want to be the jealous brother, I want to look like Jesus. So if I'm weak to jealousy, I will put blinders on and not give myself over to opportunities to LOOK then SEE then SIN. And while I'm doing that, I will maintain a posture of gratitude because while I'm thanking God for his provision and goodness, my mouth will be full of praise and not complaint.
So, no jealous brothers.
Next stop: the wilderness is for romance.
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