March 11th Devotion

As He Planned – Alistair Begg

What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it? 1 Corinthians 4:7

We call it by different names, disguising it in many ways—but jealousy is often one of the “tolerated” evangelical sins. You are unlikely to find it on a “Top Ten” list of sins that a pastor is warning his church against or mentioned very often when believers share their struggles with each other. It is on God’s list, though, and it is often mentioned in the Scriptures. In fact, jealousy is found in the midst of some of the most sordid sinful behaviors that the New Testament epistles address, because it is meant to be taken so seriously (see, for instance, Romans 13:13).

Not much has changed since Paul wrote to the Corinthians. The average local church still contends with far too much chaos and division caused by jealousy—and one of the dangers of jealousy can be the way it causes us to doubt that God knows what He is doing in apportioning gifts.

Everything you have, Paul tells these proud, disunited, envious church members, you received—and the Giver of the gifts, the Creator of the universe, does not make mistakes. So how could they—and we—walk around arrogantly as if they would make a better job of being in control of creation? Did we determine our height, girth, speed, or any of our abilities? Who made us unique? God! Our DNA is divinely planned. Our circumstances are exactly as God intends, and He does not make mistakes. Envy is a sin because it is the attitude that suggests that God is not good or does not know what would be for our good. Envy is how idolatry feels.

When we are playing piccolo in the orchestra of life, we may find ourselves looking across at a big tuba a few chairs away, being played with deep, loud notes, and be tempted to say to ourselves, “Nobody can hear me. My sound is not good enough.” From there flows a sense of bitterness about our place and a sense of envy of the tuba player’s. But ours is the piccolo sound for a reason. It is the instrument we were meant to play—so let’s play it with joy and excellence!

In our endeavors to use the gifts God has given, why are we jealous of one another? Why do we let discontentment rob us of the joy He has freely offered? Why do we allow what He has done for someone else to blind us to what He has done for us—not least in giving us eternal riches in His presence? Here is the truth that we each need to rehearse: “God gave to me exactly what I require, I am composed exactly as He planned, and all that He has, and has not, given me is for my good and His glory.”

Do not allow jealousy to consume you. Instead, live out joyfully the role for which you were created. For you are His workmanship, recreated in Christ Jesus for good works, which He has prepared for and gifted you to do (Ephesians 2:10). Let that be enough for you today.
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