Saturday, February 16, 2013

Pray, Love: Every Good and Perfect Gift

"No, mama! I want the big present!"

This was the request of my 3 year-old daughter just seconds before she threw herself onto the floor in a fit of jealousy over her daddy's Valentine's present. I had picked her up from school as soon I finished my work day, then headed home so our family could exchange Valentines. She had a card, a small box of candy and a little gift bag containing something from Mommy and Daddy waiting for her on the coffee table. I had small box of candy, a card and a small jewelry-sized box waiting for me. Doug, however, had a big gift bag and a big box of candy to open and Lily just could not get over the fact that she did not get to open the big gift.

When the crying finally ended and she took a little time to cool off, Lily finally opened her gift. It was a necklace that she loved, complete with Hello Kitty holding a heart. Daddy's gift, on the other hand, was an iPod/iPhone/iPad dock, something she had absolutely no interest in possessing.

It's easy to look at the tantrum of a 3 year-old and laugh, particularly about the fact that preschoolers judge packages by size rather than content. I rolled my eyes and told Lily just how silly she was acting, but when I thought about it later I realized that I do the exact same thing on a much larger scale.

Jealousy is a spiritual poison, a catalyst for hatred and discord. Jealousy motivated Cain to murder Abel. (Genesis 4:1-8) Jealousy caused Joseph's brothers to justify selling him into slavery. (Genesis 37:18-36)  Jealousy drove Saul to hunt David in an attempt to end his life. (I Samuel 18:8-9) Jealousy prevents me from being the Christian I am called to be. Jealousy keeps me from appreciating the many blessings in my life, blessings that flow daily.

I look at those around me and sometimes find myself wishing I could trade blessings with them. I see their gift all wrapped up, and the package is bigger and prettier than the one I'm holding. I have a mature moment where I ask God to help me overcome the jealousy I am feeling, then I spend the rest of my time and energy being envious and pretending to be happy for them. I think the temptation of jealousy is greater today than ever before. We have social media at our fingertips and we love to post our blessings for others to see. We begin to build up certain expectations for our own lives based on the "pretty gifts" we are seeing in someone else's life. We become discontented. We become ungrateful. We become jealous. We become ineffective in the kingdom of God.

Why do we doubt God's wisdom in giving us these gifts and blessings in our lives? He knows just what we need and he gives us what is good.

"If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!" Matthew 7:11

God tells us he will give us the things we need, but so often we are begging for something different. Just as I knew the contents of Lily's gift bag, God knows the blessings He is giving us; God's blessings are exactly what we need. I pray I can do a better job of being thankful for gifts given to me, knowing the contents are as perfect as the Creator who has given them.

"Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow." James 1:17

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