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Envy

When an American talks about the first family, they are usually referring the president and their family.  However, the Bible also has a first family.  Adam and Eve gave birth to Cain and Abel.  Everything was perfect until Adam and Eve broke God’s only rule.  Following their expulsion from the Garden of Eden, a curse was unleashed.  Subsequently, the human flesh was inflected with envy.

If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it,” Genesis 4:7.

When life as a farmer hit a snag, Cain struggled to provide for his family.  This lack of production influenced Cain to cut back on his first fruit offering.  In the meantime, his kid brother Abel decided to become a shepherd.  Based upon the early portion of chapter 4, Abel gave the first portion of his profits to the Lord.  This offering pleased God, but conceived envy within the heart of Cain.  This is the beginning of how envy rots the bones.

A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones, Proverbs 14:30.

Envy is like a double edged sword.  On one side envy is self-seeking, wishing you possessed what others have.  All the while, this same sinful nature is causing individuals to disconnect from God.  Unless this desire is cut off, envy will continue to cut to heart, poison souls and rot human bones.  For those of you caught up by this spiritual disease, start by implementing the words of Colossians 3:4-7.  From here, confess, pray and enter into accountability relationships to rid yourself of any ill-effects of this addictive nature.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

The Joseph Parallel

The logical individual thinks life should be a series of straight lines from point A to point B and so on.  While everyone may experience progress and natural progressions at times, life is full of detours, road blocks and phases of construction.  Therefore, the next time you find yourself in a period of transition, remember the Joseph parallel.

And it came to pass, when Joseph was come unto his brethren, that they stripped Joseph of his coat, the coat of many colors that was on him; and they took him, and cast him into the pit: and the pit was empty, there was no water in it, Genesis 37:23-24.

Joseph son of Jacob, had high expectations, receiving dreams and visions of the life God intended.  However, envy, jealousy and pride led Joseph down a path of disappointment.  Despite a series of heartbreaks, Joseph remained optimistic, leading to favor from God and man.  Apparently, Joseph didn’t care how long it took to fulfill God’s will.  Rather, Joseph kept plugging away at life until God opened doors that he was ready to walk through.

And Joseph’s master took him, and put him into the prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were bound: and he was there in the prison.  But Jehovah was with Joseph, and showed kindness unto him, and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison, Genesis 39:20-21.

As I look at my own life, its not that different from Joseph.  However, when I experience trials I spent too much questioning God instead of making the best of each situation.  Subsequently, I have wasted countless days, weeks and years complaining instead of currying God’s favor.  In view of Joseph’s parallel, I need to be transformed, embracing hardships like James 1:2-4.  Although the Lord is waiting to bless his children, too many are having pity parties instead of taking God’s hand in faith.  May the Joseph parallel broaden your perspective and inspire you to keep serving the Lord until you reach your final destination.

by Jay Mankus

He Ain’t All That

In every success story, there are two primary factors which often impact the final chapter to each Cinderella story.  The first involves an individual with talent, dedicated to mastering his or her trade.  Discipline, hard work and sacrifices can lead to fame and fortune.  While on the rise, friends, family and relatives begin to develop a sense of entitlement, expecting some sort of payment for their involvement in the process.  When this obligation is not met, things can get ugly as those on the outside looking in respond with, “he ain’t all that!”

Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. – Mark 6:3

This tragedy of society is nothing new.  Jesus dealt with a similar situation as he went back to his hometown to teach at the synagogue.  Whether it is envy or jealousy, people can be cruel, taking occasional jabs to lessen your accomplishments.  In the case of Jesus, the negativity of the crowds grew, causing his ability to heal to decline.  As the murmurs of “he ain’t all that” intensified, this lack of faith restricted the power of God from being displayed.

Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.” – Mark 6:4

With the invention of social media, ordinary people get their kicks out of trashing celebrities, professional athletes and those in the media.  Perhaps by tearing others down, insecure souls feel a little better about themselves.  Although misery loves company, lives will not change for the better until an environment for healing is formed.  Therefore, the next time you get the urge to say, “he ain’t all that,” follow the principles of James 5:16 so that the resurrection power of Christ can be unleashed.

by Jay Mankus

You’re Not Welcome Here Anymore

Strong personalities can be polarizing, often ruffling the feathers of the elite.  The controlling, power hungry and religious leaders of the first century tried to destroy anyone who was a threat.  Subsequently,  as Jesus arrived onto the scene, his logic, miracles and teaching rubbed the Pharisees the wrong way.  As Jesus’ fame grew, envy, fear and jealousy inspired unwholesome thoughts.

Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus, Mark 3:6.

Jesus went from a wedding day hero in John 2:1-11 to a marked man a few healings later.  Sensing something wasn’t right, Jesus tried to keep a low profile by withdrawing to a remote location with his disciples.  Nonetheless, his fans couldn’t get enough, walking mile after mile to have their own personal encounter with Jesus.  Unfortunately, public events were no longer an option, not welcomed anymore by the Jews.

As soon as the chief priests and their officials saw him, they shouted, “Crucify! Crucify!” – John 19:6a

Today, politics continue to shape worldviews, drastically altering the perception of churches.  Although once the center of communities on the East Coast, Christian worship centers are now under attack.  Offended by biblical teaching, liberals have turned to the Supreme Court to legalize homosexuality and gay marriage.  If successful, the very future of Bible based churches may be in danger.  Like the days of Jesus, an increasing number of opposing voices are proclaiming, “you’re not welcome here anymore!”

by Jay Mankus

 

Learning to Celebrate the Present

 The spirit of envy has a way of convincing individuals that their life doesn’t measure up to others.  When compared to this co-worker, that neighbor and everyone’s favorite relative, your life disappoints, leaving depression which hovers over the human soul.  Instead of finding contentment in the life you are living, jealousy urges people to turn their eyes toward the other side of the fence where the grass always seems greener.

 

Yesterday, I attended a wedding of a friend I had done some work for in the past year.  Since I had to work my current job leading up to the afternoon ceremony, I didn’t have any expectations.  Rather, I came with an open mind, free from any preconceived judgments or stereotypes.  I was there to simply support my friend and wife to be.  As a result, my heart was fertile, ready to receive the message of the pastor.

Before the exchange of vows,  a 5 minute sermonette explained why this couple stood at the altar.  Entitled A Witness to Christian Marriage, these words were profound, convicting me of the life I had been living.  Over the last 3 years, I have glorified my past, bypassed the present and hoped for a brighter future.  In the malaise of my unemployment, I neglected to celebrate the present.  Thanks to this amazing invocation, God has inspired me to be thankful for my past, embrace the future and learn to celebrate the here and now of life!

by Jay Mankus

When Hatred Erupts

A volcano goes through a 3 step process before an eruption occurs.  First, magma which forms when part of the upper or lower mantle begins to melt, creating a buoyancy.  As this pressure from dissolved gases builds, a new batch of magma enters a chamber already filled to capacity.  The next stage involves melting rock inside the earth, where its mass remains the same, but the volume increases.  The lighter magma is forced to the top of the earth’s surface through buoyancy.  Finally, when the density of magma becomes less than the overlying and surrounding rocks, magma reaches the surface, erupting through a vent forming a volcano to explode.

Anthony (no last name available) looks over a memorial for his friend Eugene Clark, 25, who was shot and killed Saturday on July 22, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Hatred within the human soul takes a similar course.  However, the magma is equivalent to envy and or jealousy.  When envy or jealousy is conceived, hatred is born within the hearts and minds of individuals.  When the person or source of anger maintains daily contact with an afflicted soul, hatred expands, like buoyancy, rising to the surface in the form of discord, gossip and slander.  If the density of hate causes a conscience to rationalize retaliation, hatred will erupt, leaving behind an onslaught of crime and murder in its wake as demonstrated by the violent deaths among teenagers living in Chicago.

This pattern is also found in Genesis 37:1-11.  When Joseph’s brothers recognize they are not their father’s favorite, jealousy emerges.  As Joseph rubs salt into their wounds a verse later, Genesis 37:5, sharing a dream of God’s blessing on him, their hatred spreads.  Not knowing when to stop when he is ahead, Joseph continues to boast of God’s favor on him, resulting a plot to kill him in Genesis 37:18.  At least this story has a happened ending, when big brother Reuben persuades the clan to throw Joseph in an empty well to teach him a lesson.  However, Jesus taught us long ago that hatred is equal to murder during his Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5:21-22.  Therefore, don’t let anger dwell within you, Ephesians 4:26-27.  Let God flush your emotions before hatred erupts once again.

by Jay Mankus

The Envy of Cain

When envy is present within the hearts and minds of individuals, jealousy usually isn’t far off.  Envy and jealousy often feed off of one another breeding the other feeling.  Envy arises deep inside the human soul, aroused by someone else’s material possessions, personality or unique gifts resulting in a spirit of discontent and resentment.  On the other  hand, jealousy is the emotion one experiences when someone thinks they are about to be replaced by the flavor of the month, leading to apprehension and fear.  This is where you find Cain within the pages of Genesis 4.

Cain was the prized baby, the first born boy on planet earth.  As an infant, his mom and dad waited on every cry and whimper.  Like modern parents returning from a hospital, both are clueless, not sure how to handle or respond to this new creature who has entered their life.  As for Cain, every thing was peachy keen until Abel arrived onto the scene.  Cain was now longer the main attraction, forced to share time with his baby brother.  If this wasn’t enough to bear, Cain realized how much harder farming was compared to shepherding, Abel’s occupation.  Then, God had to go and play favorites, rejecting Cain’s weak offering, but extremely pleased by the fat portions brought by Abel, Genesis 4:3-5.  These ingredients conceived the envy of Cain.

Before I studied the definitions of envy and jealousy, I never imagined either of these 2 acts of the sinful nature, Galatians 5:19-21, stirred inside my heart.  However, as I read the numerous definitions and examples of each on the internet, I saw signs of the envy of Cain within me.  Whether you are a coach, teacher or hard working employee, there is always someone quicker, smarter and more appealing than you.  Thus, you need to learn to be content in the areas God has gifted you.  If you don’t, you are giving the devil an open door for the envy of Cain to reside within you, Ephesians 4:25-27.  Therefore, lean on the the grace, forgiveness and mercy of God to purge yourself of any traces of envy or jealousy.

by Jay Mankus

From A Distance

Julie Gold wrote the song From A Distance after receiving the piano she played as a kid for a 30th Birthday gift.  When the movers informed her not to play it for 24 hours due to the cold conditions during the shipping process, this anticipation inspired the lyrics to the 1990 hit sung by Bette Midler.  From a Distance holds a certain sentimental value in my heart as it was the “theme song” to the first week long mission trip I ever attended.  During a hot summer week on St. John’s Island, South Carolina, I served on the worship team as the male vocalist, singing the chorus of From A Distance to close out each evening.  Although Julie Gold intended to construct a song about the way things seem and the way things actually are, she touches on an important biblical teaching.

Known as the Matthew 18 principle, Jesus introduces readers to how to properly handle any sort of grievance you may have against another person within Matthew 18:15-18.  When an agreement is made between 2 parties, God is watching, serving as a witness from a distance according to Matthew 18:19-20.  In other words, if a handshake is made to settle a previous conflict, God serves as an invisible notary to bind 2 individuals to resolve their matter once and for all.  Unfortunately, modern worship leaders are changing the context of this passage, adding worship into this equation, twisting scripture to make it say what they belief.  When you reflect upon Julie Gold’s lyrics in From A Distance, one is steered back in the right direction, freed from heresy that exists in modern day churches.

The words of the final stanza are posted below.

From a distance
You look like my friend
Even though we are at war
From a distance
I just cannot comprehend
What all this fightings for
From a distance
There is harmony
And it echoes through the land
And its the hope of hopes
Its the love of loves
Its the heart of every man

Beneath the surface, friendships are tested daily by envy, selfishness and regretful words spoken in the heat of the moment.  As long there is a willingness to comply with the regulations and standards mentioned with Matthew 18, peace is attainable.  However, the minute someone holds a grudge, refuses to let go of the pain deep inside their soul and give the devil a foot hold by going to sleep angry, hope disappears.  In view of this, remember that God is watching, from a distance, urging the world to forgive others as Christ Jesus forgave you, Colossians 3:12-15.

by Jay Mankus

Watch Your Ways

When I was a freshman in high school, I was privileged to be asked to attend my first party by a sophomore.  While I had a crush on this girl at the time, something in my heart told me not to go.  Thus, as half of this party was being arrested for under aged drinking, I was subbing for my parent’s Friday Night bowling league.  On this night, I could do no wrong like a blessing from above, bowling my best single game, 199 and three games series, 570.  I knew I was in the right place as my first poor shot of the evening hit 3 pins initially, before somehow turning into a strike.

Psalm 39:1 illustrates a similar principle with 3 directions for life.  First, King David shares the importance of watching your ways.  This includes how you spend your time, the friends you choose, places you go and entertainment decisions you make.  If I rejected my initial gut feeling, my entire high school experience and career path might have changed.  Fortunately, my parents had raised me up in the church, which has provided guidance and wisdom along the way.

Second, David warns others to keep their tongue from sin.  The most common temptation in schools and the workplace is gossip and or slander.  However, if you steer clear from this, anger can also encourage evil words to roll off your lips.  In addition, envy, jealousy and pride may inspire venomous words, attacking others, often in the form of a word curse.  Like the apostle Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 10:5, the best way to keep your tongue from sin is by taking your thoughts captive, making them obedient to Christ.

Finally, the king ends Psalm 39:1 by emphasizing the need to put a muzzle over your mouth.  Slightly different from the tongue, I believe David is referring to your conversation.  Jesus talks about adding flavor to others by what you say, Matthew 5:13.  Paul adds to Jesus’ words by stressing the need for grace in Colossians 4:6.  Even Peter, who struggled with this area throughout his life adds a reminder for gentleness and respect, 1 Peter 3:15-16.  Therefore, whether you want to change your way, tongue or mouth, if you put God’s word into practice, Matthew 7:24, eternal blessings will follow.

by Jay Mankus

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