Archive for the ‘Jealousy’ Category

The oldest parental joke in the world has many variations. Here’s mine:

Question: “What is the one thing your child wants?”

Answer: “Whatever his or her sibling has.”

I heard a rumor that Adam and Eve wrote that crack, but I’m ashamed to admit that as a sibling, father and grandfather, I understand the punch line all too well. Going back to my childhood, I remember well my mother’s oft-repeated admonition: “Don’t look at what the other guy has!”

You don’t even get a vacation from this scenario when on vacation. During a stop on our recent Caribbean cruise, my grandson and granddaughter were each digging a hole in the sand at a Costa Maya beach. They were overjoyed when they individually struck water in their respective holes. Three year-old “Sis” got a head start resulting in a deeper hole. Her four year-old brother took note of this horrid inequity. He promptly took advantage whilst she was on her coffee break. He quickly looked around to see if anyone was looking and slyly filled in some of her hole. A few minutes later, Sis was wailing (that’s crying, not looking for the largest mammal).

If this was restricted to the under-five crowd, I might not be too surprised. But no more than a few minutes later, an irritated beach café owner began scolding his neighboring café owner that he had crossed the invisible line on the beach and was stealing his customers. He repeatedly pointed to the sand, muttered something in Spanish, stuck out his foot and drew a line in the sand with his toe for dramatic effect and promptly left in what was literally a Mexican stand-off. Thankfully, no shots were fired. More thankfully, my grandkids didn’t witness it or they would be justifying their behavior.

Meanwhile, the television was covering a more serious conflict in the Middle East and I got to thinking that they are probably squabbling over some sand as well. Later on this very same vacation, I went to see The National World War II Museum and I couldn’t help thinking about the beaches of Normandy and Iwo Jima and a thousand others beside.

Ever since Cain kicked sand in Abel’s face, the world has been drawing lines because of jealousy or as an effort to dominate or one-up another person or people group. Solomon nailed it in Ecclesiastes 4:4: “Then I observed that most people are motivated to success because they envy their neighbors. But this, too, is meaningless—like chasing the wind.” Just ask Hitler.

I began to wonder how many times I’ve drawn lines in the sand over “my” territory. After all, I am the one who created the sand, aren’t I?

I make no argument here against the individual ownership of private property or the sovereignty of nations. Two of the Ten Commandments deal with stealing and coveting and therefore the obvious inference is that possessing something is a right that others shouldn’t infringe on or even secretly envy (covet).

In Matthew 20: 13-15, Jesus touches on those who assign favoritism to God because He treats people differently: ““He answered one of them, ‘Friend, I haven’t been unfair! Didn’t you agree to work all day for the usual wage? Take your money and go. I wanted to pay this last worker the same as you. Is it against the law for me to do what I want with my money? Should you be jealous because I am kind to others?’”

“Comparisons are odious” and “Jealousy is crueler than the grave” or so they say. All of us could learn a lesson from my grandchildren. If envy and comparisons have landed on your beach, why bury your head in the sand?



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