Last night, Greg and I were watching the episode of Seinfeld where George gets engaged and Elaine just can’t deal with it. She goes to see her rabbi; unloading all of her jealousy and frustration with George’s apparent happiness. Leaving his presence not feeling any better; she begins seething. Shortly after her visit, who does she run into but George. Elaine proceeds to put on her “happy” face; hugging and congratulating George. “I’m so happy for you!” pours out of her mouth while Jerry just looks at her shaking his head. He knows the truth; he knows what’s going on in her head and heart.
John the Baptist and Elaine are polar opposites. I know. I read it this morning.
In John 3, John is doing what he has been doing from the beginning; baptizing disciples. He had already met and baptized Jesus and then returned to his work.
That’s when Trouble came along. Trouble had a real name, but the Bible only calls him or her a certain Jew, so I thought we could just name this character “Trouble”. You’ll see why.
In verse 26 of this chapter, Trouble stirs up an argument with John’s followers. “Everyone is now going to Jesus to be baptized instead of John.” Trouble pulls out the envy card.
The disciples are quick to share this important information with JB. How was John going to respond? In John 1:27 he had already made it clear what he thought about Jesus. He had even said Jesus was the one who came after him,whose sandals he was not even worthy to untie. Now that’s respect. That’s honor and esteem. I mean, I really don’t find it that great of an honor to tie anybody’s shoes.
But what John said was before; before he found out this pertinent news. According to his closest friends, Jesus was now his competitor!
Lean in closely here and listen to John’s response. You’re really not going to believe this:
“…a man can receive only what is given him from heaven.” (John 3: 27b NIV)
Get that! John’s response is “I’m doing what I’m suppose to do with what I have been given.” He is comfortable with his commission. His mission is clear. His mission is to go before Jesus and make disciples. He did it. He goes on to restate what he stated before, “I am not the Christ…” vs. 28 John clearly knows his gifts, his calling, his mission.
Like John, God has given each one of us gifts and callings as well. Gifts that come with a commission. A commission that is distinctly our’s and our’s alone.
Sometimes, though, Trouble comes along. Trouble can be a co-worker, another volunteer at church; even a family member. They speak words into our lives that Satan wants to use to derail us; to get our focus off of our commission and onto someone else’s.
We may be tempted to take the path opposite of our good friend, JB. “I wish God would allow me to do what she gets to do. Then I could really make a difference.” These thoughts, which in themselves are not sin, are allowed to hang around in our head too long and end up making their way to our hearts. That’s when sin sprouts; envy, jealousy, resentment set roots and begin to grow.
We’ve all seen what that looks like: the actions of a bitter woman or the words of an envious friend. Maybe we have heard words like these out of our own mouths. There is nothing pretty about it, is there.
Let’s make a pact. A pact to follow John the Baptist’s wisdom and recognize “a man can receive only what is given him from heaven.” Let’s receive what we’ve been given with grateful hearts and invest our lives by using these gifts wholeheartedly.
Now…it is time for me to use my gift of two arms and legs and get cleaning those bathrooms!