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Rejoice in the Shade! (08.16.05--Envy!--Duet. 5: 21)

Standing in the shadows can be lonely at times. When others are taking the bows and hearing the accolades it is sometimes impossible not to be envious. Recognition is something that each one of us by nature yearn for. To be recognized for what we do and how we do it is a pretty simple thing after all. It’s not like we are asking for trophies and plaques to line our walls and bookcases. Simply, to know that others appreciate what we do as much as they appreciate the efforts of others, is not too much to ask--is it?

Yet, life usually isn’t fair when it comes to recognition. We strive to achieve and then, just when we feel that we’ve reached our goal, someone else steals the limelight. They trot out on stage and take the bows that should have been ours. Or, at least, that is what we are prone to think. We plod and they gallop. We strive and they just always seem to get there with ease. There’s something inherently unfair about having to work hard and try our best and then receive nothing more than scant praise. If God is a just god and justice means that we get what we deserve, why is it that so often our strivings and longings find us standing in someone else’s shade? Would it be that bad to capture the spotlight occasionally?

The godly Scottish preacher Andrew Bonar penned a diary entry. He wrote, “This day 20 years ago I preached for the first time as an ordained minister. It is amazing that the Lord has spared me and used me at all. I have no reason to wonder that He used others far more than He does me. Yet envy is my hurt, and today I have been seeking grace to rejoice exceedingly over the usefulness of others, even where it cast me into the shade. Lord, take away this envy from me!” (Andrew Bonar.)

God, in His mercy, is constantly standing between us and ourselves. He knows what is best for us when, most of the time, we have little clue of it. Often He puts us in the “shade” of others just to protect us from ourselves and our own inability to deal with the acclaim in a Godly way. He also knows that covetousness, the desire to want something that belongs to another, is one of our human failings that so often takes control of our lives and leads to other sins like adultery and theft. That is why God will often put us in the shade of others so that we can learn to “rejoice” the fortune of others when they achieve and we do not. It’s only through this kind of conditioning that we are able to deal with covetousness in a righteous way. Practicing contentment in the shade of others is the perfect way to adjust to our lives as God has given them to us. Besides, what better place to kick back and relax than in someone else’s shade.

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