I was deathly afraid of the dentist growing up.
The nauseating smell that hits when you enter the building, the hair-raising sound of drilling and pulling, the tastes and pain. In fact, the dentist office is still the one place I dread most in the world. I often joke that I’d choose to visit the OB-GYN over the dentist any day, and I like to say that nothing reveals my personal brokenness quite like a trip to the dentist.
But at least as a kid there was a light at the end of the tunnel- a dig through the treasure chest on the way out of the office.
I can still see myself on my hands and knees, digging through that treasure chest determined to find a prize that was worth all the terror that my little heart had just experienced- something to take away the pain and dull the nasty taste in my mouth. If I found a treasure that met all my expectations, my heart would be happy- forgetting the trauma that I had just endured.
Much like 6-year-old Kelsee leaving her dental check-up, many of us are digging for treasure- searching for a prize that might satisfy. You can tell a lot about a person by what they consider gold. And jealousy, if we pause long enough to notice, can be an indicator of what kind of prize our hearts really treasure.
In Matthew 6:21, Jesus says, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Enter a late night scroll through Instagram: A few weeks ago, a wave of envy hit me as I observed a girlfriend’s success. Once I recognized the unhealthy thoughts I was having, that jealousy began to alert my heart. Like a metal detector on a beach, this jealousy revealed something buried underneath the surface of what appeared to be just another dose of comparison. My jealousy was an indicator of what I was treasuring in life.
In that moment, I was treasuring worldly success- approval of man- self-sufficiency – and self-praise. I felt as though my worth as a person came from what I accomplished on this earth. I longed for others to give me approval. I wanted to be able to create my own sense of significance. I wanted to feel proud of myself. These were my treasures.
The treasure chest of my heart was full of myself, man, and this temporary world. Yet these treasures left me ultimately feeling empty.
Maybe you’ve experience this full-emptiness too….
- Jealousy of a relationship – treasuring the validation and acceptance of another human being to make you feel loved.
- Jealousy of another family’s work and financial life- treasuring the American Dream and this world as your home.
- Coveting another friends physique or personality – treasuring the status quo in order to find self-worth.
The list of potential treasures goes on, while the void grows darker and colder.
This emptiness is no surprise when we consider this warning from Jesus, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21
Simply put, jealousy is an indicator that a heart is full of empty treasures that will pass away and never satisfy. But if our hearts are instead full of eternal treasures- treasures of heaven- we will experience the fullness of joy that jealousy cannot steal.
We must treasure peace, servanthood, sisterhood, self-control, holiness, and generosity, making Jesus our greatest treasure, and loving others more than we love ourselves. When these are our treasures, there is no room for the battle of competition and comparison. Jealousy will not penetrate, and resentment will not rust over.
But how do we do this? I don’t have all the answers- and this battle is still one that I’m learning how to fight, but I think there is a key question we can ask ourselves.
Like most of the cheap prizes I pulled from the dentist office treasure chest – a plastic frog, a super bouncy ball, play jewelry, a pencil – our worldly treasures break, lose their shine, get lost, and simply don’t last. In a moment of furry, I can pause and ask myself the same question I asked when carefully choosing my souvenir: Will this treasure last?
If my answer is no…If the treasure of that moment will not follow me into eternity, then I am prompted to redirect my heart to a new treasure. Through prayer and petition, the Holy Spirit will transform my heart with a longing for lasting treasure -treasure that will not break after a few uses or turn my finger green.
What kind of steps do you take to redirect your heart in a moment of jealousy? I would love to hear from you.
With Love & Freedom,