Who hasn’t been affected by the green-eyed monster? Jealousy is one of those sins that starts as a tiny little blot, but if not removed will fester and grow like a cancer on our hearts. “For where there is jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing.” (James 3:16). For some reason it seems to affect women more than men.
One place Christian women (or at least this Christian woman) are affected by jealousy is over the gifts and talents of others. Have you ever wondered why you don’t have a gift for speaking, the gift for teaching, the gift for creativity, or the gift of encouragement or the gift of X? Perhaps you envy other women who have a talent for talking to others, decorating, cooking or whatever.
As a woman, it’s hard not to be jealous over certain talents that we would love to have. I would love to have a talent for conversation and knowing the right thing to say. It is something that I really struggle with, but it is what it is. Being jealous over someone else’s ability to speak well will do far more harm than good.
Have you really considered why you might not have the gifts you desire? As I’ve continued to study the book of James, it’s led me to think more about this. James 4:2b-3 says “You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive because you ask with wrong motives…” In this particular passage he is confronting the issue of jealousy in the church.
Have you asked God for the gifts you desire? You can’t sit around and expect something to happen when you haven’t asked for it. What are your motives? Are you asking for abilities that you can use for God or are you asking because you want to bring attention and glory to yourself?
Consider the example of Simon in Acts 8. Before his conversion, he had been a well-known magician who the people had held in great esteem because of what he could do. When he saw that people were receiving “special gifts” from the apostles, he started to think about how famous he would be with these extraordinary gifts and tried to buy them. Peter’s response was, “You have no part or portion in this matter because your heart is not right before God.” If we ask with wrong motives, we can assume our answer will be no.
Matthew 25:14-30 tells the well-known “parable of the talents.” A master is about to go on a trip and decides to leave some of his possessions to his servants to manage until he returns. One man received five talents, one two and the other receives one “according to his own ability.” The first two men used their abilities to double their talents while the man with one talent buried it in the ground. Which man do you think the master was disgusted with? This man may not have been rich in his abilities, but the master gave him what he could handle and the servant chose not to rise to the challenge. Meanwhile, the two hardworking men gained the master’s trust and were rewarded by being given more responsibility and honor in his household.
From this I think we can see that another reason for us not having the gifts we desire is because we are not using the ones we have. I believe God puts opportunities in front of us to use our talents, and we can either accept these challenges or ignore them. If we are not willing to step up to the plate, then why should we expect Him to give us more talents?
Our gifts were specially given to us because of who we are. They weren’t randomly assigned, but given to us with great thought and care. Whether or not we have the gifts that we desire, we have the gifts that are perfect for us. We can spend our time anguishing over what we do not have or use what we have to its fullest. “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10).
There’s nothing wrong with asking for new talents and abilities, but if our motives are not pure or we are not using what we already have, then it will be in vain. “He said to them, ‘You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts. What is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight'” (Luke 16:5).
Let us be thankful for the gifts that we have, work diligently to improve them and pray for opportunities to use them for God’s glory. We might just find out that we really do enjoy the abilities that we already have.
By Jennifer Martin.
Jennifer and her husband Alan have been married for 11 years and they have a one-year-old son, Benjamin. They worship with the Hope church of Christ in Hope, AR. She enjoys being a stay-at-home-mom, homemaker and likes to share her thoughts on faith, food and good fun on her blog, Imitation by Design.