Monday, January 9, 2012

Hating the Success of Others

The proximate cause of my posting this blog entry is the hatred and/or disgust I've seen on Facebook for Tim Tebow, particularly from Christians.  Many opine that he should keep his faith to himself, that God is not sovereign over the affairs of the National Football League, or that he is a mediocre quarterback, at best. But what seems to be the common thread in all their seething rants is hatred of Tebow's success.

It made me think of something a good friend of mine said when I proudly displayed one of my bodybuilding photos on Facebook:  "Paul, nobody likes a good example."  I took it, of course, with in the same good spirit of humor with which he intended it.  But it made me think:  we really do hate the success of others.  We hate it when others have things that we do not, and especially when they are things that we are not and never will be.

This inability to revel in and hatred o the success of others is none other than Envy, one of the Seven Deadly Sins.
I remember turning the corner out of Envy and into the larger world of being able to appreciate the success and possessions of others.  You will not be suprised to learn that it came to me through the car hobby.  I used to get quite envious of those who had cooler cars than I did.  But suddenly, one summer many years ago, I was able to appreciate the beauty of these machines, and to thank God on behalf of the men and women who owned them.  It came to me in a flash how foolish I had been, and how impoverished my total appreciation of the world had become, by only being able to appreciate beauty and virtue in things I personally possessed!

We should be able to rejoice with those who rejoice (Romans 12:15)!  Here is the Biblical account (from 2 Samuel 6) of one woman who was woefully unable to do so:
Wearing a linen ephod, David was dancing before the LORD with all his might, while he and all Israel were bringing up the ark of the LORD with shouts and the sound of trumpets.
As the ark of the LORD was entering the City of David, Michal daughter of Saul watched from a window. And when she saw King David leaping and dancing before the LORD, she despised him in her heart.  
They brought the ark of the LORD and set it in its place inside the tent that David had pitched for it, and David sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings before the LORD.  After he had finished sacrificing the burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the LORD Almighty.  Then he gave a loaf of bread, a cake of dates and a cake of raisins to each person in the whole crowd of Israelites, both men and women. And all the people went to their homes.  
When David returned home to bless his household, Michal daughter of Saul came out to meet him and said, “How the king of Israel has distinguished himself today, going around half-naked in full view of the slave girls of his servants as any vulgar fellow would!” 
David said to Michal, “It was before the LORD, who chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when he appointed me ruler over the LORD’s people Israel—I will celebrate before the LORD.  I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes. But by these slave girls you spoke of, I will be held in honor.”
Let us be a little less like Michal, bitter at the rejoicing of another, and a little more like the slave girls, able to keep to the dictate of Romans 12:15, to rejoice with those who rejoice.