For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved babies. As a child I begged God to make my dolls come to life and fantasized about one day having a big family. So when I was five-years-old and learned Mom was going to have a real live baby, I was thrilled. Although I wasn’t allowed to name him, my parents told me he would be “my” baby brother, a dream come true.
Sometimes Mom let me feed him or hold him, but she never let him out of her sight. It didn’t take long to figure out he wasn’t really “mine”, and eventually I sensed he had become more important than I was. The camera clicked only in his direction, and when company came, it was all about the new baby.
Gradually, all the good parts of having a baby (like letting me own him) were eliminated, and the bad parts (like everyone ignoring me) increased. Feeling set aside, I became very jealous.
Jealousy is hideous. It produces intolerance, suspicion, and bitterness, but worst of all, it always grows. As little Tommy grew, so did my jealousy. By the time he was a pre-schooler, I teased him continually, which required steady reprimanding from both parents and filled our home with friction.
It wasn’t until my friends became more important than pestering a little brother that my jealousy slowly subsided. I took an honest look at young Tom and saw he actually had a few good points. And by the time I went off to college, I missed him a great deal. When he eventually approached me with questions about dating, I was honored.
In recent years I’ve studied what God thinks of jealousy, and it’s not good. Although he has the right to be jealous over people because we all belong to him, the rest of us put ourselves on several very condemning lists when we’re jealous.
For starters, God equates jealousy with drunkenness, sexual immorality, wickedness and corruption. Later he adds idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, rage and discord as jealousy’s bedfellows. Another list cites slander, anger, quarreling and arrogance. None of that is company I want to keep.
Today Tom is absolutely dear to me, a champion brother for whom I have nothing but respect and gratitude. When I see how close I came to letting jealousy destroy this valuable relationship, I’m overwhelmed with God’s grace (and Tom’s) in letting me off the hook. And, no thanks to me, the Lord protected and preserved our sibling bond through that ugly storm.
Amazingly Tom has never retaliated for my jealous misbehavior… unless of course he’s got that scheduled for next week.
“Don’t participate in the darkness of wild parties or drunkenness, or in sexual promiscuity and immoral living, or in quarreling and… jealousy.” (Romans 13:13)