The Rotten Fruit of Doubt
Theodore Roosevelt understood the human heart well; comparison truly is the thief of our joy. The spread of jealousy and toxic nature of complaint that accompany our weak moments comparing ourselves to others steal the very life from our bodies, leaving us without confidence and hope. For this reason we must not neglect intentional diligence when it comes to the soil of our souls. The Apostle Paul was no stranger to the importance of our thoughts and feelings. Paul encouraged Christians to bring every thought and emotion under the rule and reign of our new life in Christ (2 Cor. 10:5). Like a farmer with an ever-watchful eye, we must protect any and all threats to a healthy soul-harvest.
No doubt, spiritual farming requires great toil. Every day is a battle. In our storms of envy and comparison, we long to sunbathe beneath the warmth of someone else’s sunlight. What kept us from receiving the talents they have? How can we leave what we have behind and take hold of all they enjoy? We question where we’re planted, wondering if we’ve missed the fertile soil of happiness just two feet too far to the left.
Beth Moore once said that what is true in the ecological realm is true in the spiritual. Therefore, to rid our hearts of the weeds of jealousy and complaint, we must assemble the very same form of attack we’d use for the weeds in our flower bed: attack the root system. Make no mistake, jealousy and a complaining spirit aren’t the seeds of planting, they’re the fruit of a sinful harvest. These wicked, mutated plants rise from seeds of doubt we began scattering seasons before. And doubt grows fast. Which is why we take great care to trace it back to the seed level. The truth is, we’re not angry with Susan for getting the job instead of us. We aren’t upset with Brad for planting the church that we thought we would.
We’re angry with God.
We wonder why He placed them in the position and not us.
We question why God rescued them and left us stranded.
We doubt God’s ability to know what’s best for us. Even worse, we question if he even wants what’s best for us. In ignorance, we believe we know ourselves better than God does. Author Paul Tripp offers this wisdom concerning these times:
“The joy or complaint of your heart always shapes your willingness to trust God and to do his will…Complaining forgets God’s grace. It ignores his presence. It fails to see the beauty of his promises…it questions his goodness, faithfulness, and love. It wonders if he is there and if he cares. If you believe in God and his control over everything that exists, then you have to accept that all of your grumbling is ultimately grumbling against him.” (New Morning Mercies, April 25)
To prevent rotten yields of doubt, we must come to trust that God’s hand is over our lives, moving every detail in the direction that He knows best, working our lives out in the best way.
So how can we begin to do that?
Confidence In His Plan, Not Our Power
Our struggle with jealousy comes because we believe in our ability and resolve to be where someone else is. We get jealous because we want to be doing the something else instead of that someone else. While we doubt God’s ability, we never seem to struggle with confidence in our own abilities and resumes. Isn’t that interesting? We question God’s ability to handle a situation, yet never second-guess our own qualifications to excel at something we aren’t doing or don’t yet have.
Pride accompanies our lack of trust and battle with jealousy. We must, as Charles Spurgeon said, flee from pride and not let it dwell with us! Let us see our pride the way God does. (1 Peter 5:6-7) We must fight to ignore the seat of honor and diligently search for the lowest seat. (Luke 14:7-11) It would do us good to spend time in the latter pages of Job. (Job 38-42) Too often we find ourselves deserving of another’s blessing. Too often our confidence is off-balance. We must re-evaluate our abilities compared with God Almighty’s and understand we are created not for our own gains but rather for God’s glory and carrying out his ultimate purpose. Our role in God’s mission is a gift of grace, Paul says, making sure we know it’s not of our own accomplishments so we can’t boast about our place. (Romans 8; Ephesians 2)
We must learn to see our pride the way God does.
When we are confident in God’s movement and timing in our own lives, we experience the contentment that comes from confidence in him alone, rather than our own power. The level of trust we have in God’s plan shows itself in the level of trust we have in God’s ability. When we are too confident in what we bring to the table, we tend to think God doesn’t need to be at the table at all. But when we trust his plan over our perceived power, we’ll find security and joy in whatever he brings, knowing we’re seated at the table solely because of grace, not because our gifts or talents.
Contentment in Who He Is, Not What He Gives
Our battles with jealously and seasons of complaint can also unearth our doubt in God’s ability to satisfy. We trust that what we have been given – the status, the job, the family, the car – will do more for us than our identity as God’s son or daughter. We don’t believe God can satisfy us the way his gifts can. We find too much joy in the treasures laying before our eyes that we’ve forgotten where they came from. We forget that true joy is in knowing God. In our jealousy of others over what they have, we refuse to believe that God is enough for our complete joy and satisfaction. We question his ability to provide for and satisfy the longings we have. We believe what we have is more important and a more secure and satisfying foundation than who we are.
This is John Piper’s central focus when he argues that not only must we believe God is reliable, but that he is also desirable. To that we must ask, “Can I rely on Him? Do I desire Him?” Friend, God has assured us through His Word that He will provide for us abundantly and satisfy us completely. (Psalm 37:4; Matt. 6:25-34; Phil. 4:11-12) Time in His Word does well to keep our hearts grounded in his truth rather than our hearts’ deceit.
When we trust God’s plan over our perceived power, we find security and joy in whatever he brings.
God knows what to give us. He knows how to provide for us better than we do and better than we are able. Author Kristen Wetherell said it quite poignantly: “I don’t necessarily need what I think I need. I need what God knows I need.” Let your trust in Him weed out any seeds of doubt that have grown complaint or jealousy in your heart.