Although the same might be true for other colors, we associate a lot of things with the color green. Kermit the Frog lamented about the challenges of being green. Those who seek to preserve our environment challenge others to “go green”1. The Incredible Hulk is green, and the old Captain Kangaroo show featured Mr. Green Jeans.
However, the green monster that we are taught to avoid (correctly, I might add) isn’t the Hulk, but jealousy. Wanting what others have can lead to dissatisfaction, anger, and sometimes doing harm to those who have what we want (whether we can take it from them, or not).
While reading through some Bible passages (possibly a combination of a Sunday School lesson, and reading through the Bible to my youngest son), I noticed a connection between a couple of passages in the Old Testament.
The first occurs after David kills Goliath. After David gains some fame, Saul (the king of Israel at that time) becomes peeved that people credit greater accomplishments to David than to him (Saul).
Then Saul became very angry, for this saying displeased him; and he said, “They have ascribed to David ten thousands, but to me they have ascribed thousands. Now what more can he have but the kingdom?”
1 Samuel 18:8 NASB
To be clear, the refrain that was being sung ascribed to Saul the conquest over thousands of enemies. Whether this was hyperbole or not, that’s a pretty significant recognition. Some people might have been happy with that, but when David was given credit for tens of thousands, the initial credit that Saul received wasn’t enough for him. This caused friction between Saul and David, to say the least. David doesn’t seem to have been antagonistic or rude to Saul. The issue that Saul was complaining about related to what others were saying, and the impact on his ego. (Trust me, if you get worked up about what other people say, you’re going to live a pretty frustrated and angry life…and that seems to be what Saul experienced.)
Later, though, after Saul had been killed in battle, and David took on the role of Israel’s king, David was out celebrating as the Ark of the Covenant was being moved. His behavior offended his wife (well, one of his wives):
But when David returned to bless his household, Michal the daughter of Saul came out to meet David and said, “How the king of Israel distinguished himself today! He uncovered himself today in the eyes of his servants’ maids as one of the foolish ones shamelessly uncovers himself!”
2 Samuel 6:20 NASB
Without reading too much into this, it seems that Michal’s reason for offense was in David showing off his body in public. Perhaps she felt that only she should get a peek at David’s pectorals. Or, maybe she just thought that David was embarrassing himself, and reflecting poorly on her.
It sounds like Michal suffered from some of the same effects of jealousy as her father (Saul) experienced. Unfortunately, like a positive faith or good examples, recurring sins can also pass down from parent to child. This isn’t so much genetic as it is observed and learned.
I understand that selfish jealousy isn’t one of the so-called “big sins”, as we humans tend to categorize sins (as if one was more offensive than another to a holy God). It’s easy enough to tell ourselves that we aren’t doing anything “really bad”, while still nurturing envy, covetousness, or self-seeking jealousy.
But, jealousy really is a big deal. The sin of covetousness – jealousy’s “cousin” – was important enough to make the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:17). Jealousy severed relationships between David, and both Saul and Michal. Today, it separates friends, drives wedges between family members, and – in a world where God wants to bring people together as part of His family – it separates groups of people who all wish they had something that someone else has.
Still, if you struggle with jealousy, let me challenge you (as I challenge myself): If we won’t fight it because we want to show love to Jesus by obeying His commandments (see Mark 7:21-23), then may we fight to remain free of jealousy because others are watching and learning from us. May our legacy be free from nurturing harmful desires, so that those who come after us will not suffer the consequences from learning that sort of behavior.
Kermit the Frog was right: It isn’t easy being green, so let us not leave others with a legacy that is ruled by the “green monster”, itself.
- I think that God wants us to take good care of the earth that He created, but God’s instructions must be used to validate “green” philosophies, and not the other way around. ↩