ODJ: Jealousy and Generosity

June 19, 2016 

READ: Matthew 20:1-15 

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? (v.15).

Thomas J. DeLong, a professor at Harvard Business School, has noted a disturbing trend among his students and colleagues—a comparison obsession. He writes: “Business executives, Wall Street analysts, lawyers, doctors and other professionals are obsessed with comparing their own achievements against those of others. ...I have interviewed hundreds of HNAPs (High Need for Achievement Professionals) about this phenomenon and discovered that comparing has reached almost epidemic proportions. This is bad for individuals and bad for companies [and it leads to diminished satisfaction].” It’s also especially bad for believers in Jesus.

To help His followers understand the dangers of comparison obsession and, instead, what the kingdom of heaven is like, Jesus told a parable about a landowner who hired workers to tend his vineyard. He hired workers around 6 a.m. and agreed to pay them a denarius, a day’s wage (Matthew 20:1-2). Then he hired workers at 9 a.m., noon, 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. and indicated that he would pay them what “was right” (vv.4-5).

When it was time to pay all the workers, he paid them each the same wage, a denarius. The first group he hired protested, accusing the owner of being unfair. But the owner reminded the grumblers that he could choose to be controversially and scandalously generous if he so desired (vv.13-14). Then he revealed the root of the issue—they were “jealous” of his extravagant generosity (v.15).

When God is truly reigning in our hearts, we see Him as sovereign, gracious, just and generous. There’s no room for bitter envy and unhealthy comparison. May we simply focus on the life God has given us and live with gratitude.

—Marvin Williams

365-day plan: John 3:1-21

Read Galatians 6:4-5 and see the instructions Paul gave to help us avoid comparing our work with others’. 
How is comparison obsession more of a vertical (human to God) problem than a horizontal (human to human) problem? What are some practical things you can do to eliminate comparison obsession?