John 21:22 Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.”
We get so involved with what God is doing to or for or with other people! Our focus is to be on our Lord and our obedience to Him. One of the most poisonous things in society today is jealousy, which is actively stoked by people who aim to tear society down. Even the poorest person in the US today lives a much easier life than very wealthy people did not very long ago, but rather than being grateful for that, we are encouraged to resent those who seem to have more than we do. It could not be any clearer that is a ploy of the devil to destroy our peace and happiness, because gratitude is fundamental to those things. Some people wonder why God specified the 10th of the 10 Commandments: “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” (Exodus 20:17) They say, “That goes against human nature! Everybody covets what they don’t have!” That is a lie from the devil. There is a huge difference between, “That’s nice. I’d like it too,” and “I want that, so I’ll take it from him.” “Equality” sounds very nice, but many political movements over the past couple of centuries have worked toward equality of misery. That’s precisely what “critical race theory” is working toward, pitting people against each other and fomenting hatred not only of others but of yourself. That’s the devil, wearing academic credentials instead of horns. Peter and John were as “inner circle” with Jesus as you could get, yet they too were tempted to comparisons, and Jesus nipped it in the bud. John was the only one of the original 12 apostles to die a natural death, living well past 90, so the rumor that sprung up from Jesus’ remark here was natural. From the earlier statements about Peter’s death (verses 18-19) it’s clear that Peter had already been martyred when John wrote this. That could well have contributed to John’s urgency in getting this recorded. In any case, Jesus’ instructions to both Peter and John, and to us, were “Follow me.”
This naturally applies to me, as it does to everyone. Some people have been amazed at how much I seem to enjoy life (and I do) but I think my “secret” is very simple: I recognize that I am enormously blessed by the grace of God. There are things I would like that I don’t have, but I recognize that they are insignificant in the long run. I also know that the good stuff God has for me in no way detracts from what He has prepared for others, and vice versa. The devil tries to convince us that it’s a “zero sum game,” that someone else having means I don’t have, but that’s an absolute lie. That’s the root of covetousness! I am to be generous, knowing that my Father always has more, and He will pour to me and through me all that is necessary. As a pastor and counselor I seek to help others to that understanding, but it’s often an uphill slog against the world and the devil. Only God’s truth, communicated by His Spirit, can set people free from the devil’s lies.
Father, thank You for this strong reminder. Help me indeed walk in gratitude and help others to do likewise, to that the devil may be defeated indeed, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!