Written By Christin Siahaan, originally in Bahasa Indonesia
She could be a good friend or just an acquaintance. She’s also talented, successful, popular, and nice. I wish I could be like her. Have you ever thought that way? It starts with an observation of someone we know, is followed by admiration, and, before we know it, jealousy takes hold of our hearts.
When I was serving in a campus ministry while studying, a friend shared with me about a prayer group she had joined. She could barely contain her excitement as she described a new prayer partner (whom I shall refer to as Joy). “She is so holy!”, my friend said in admiration as she sung praises about a life worth imitating.
I did not know Joy very well, but I knew that she was actively involved in ministry work and appeared to be very keen to grow in her knowledge of God. As I listened to my friend rave about her, the thought crept into my mind, “Oh God, how I wish to be like her!”
The envy I felt made me take a good, hard look at my relationship with God. I realized that while I was busy serving in my ministry, I was not spending time with God or obeying Him as much as I should. If I could not even set aside time to read His word and dwell in His presence, how could I enjoy the kind of intimacy with God that Joy had?
God reminded me about the example of Apostle Paul. Paul came after Jesus’ original disciples, but was not caught up with finding ways to be as good as or even better than the other apostles. Neither did he clamor after praise or approval from those he ministered to. Instead, he set his mind on knowing Christ, and becoming like Him (Philippians 3:10). He did this by being obedient and faithful, and as a result, God made Paul’s life and ministry a blessing to many.
Paul’s example is a reminder to me that at the end of the day, God’s approval is the only thing that really matters. When we look at the lives of other people who seem to have everything going for them, let’s not allow jealousy and envy to consume us and make us question why God does not allow us to be successful like them. God has never required us to be like other people; rather, He wants us to be like Christ. Therefore we can celebrate the progress and successes of others while journeying in our own walk, knowing that God works in different ways for each individual, for our good. He is shaping us so that we can glorify Him wherever He places us.