Jealous of Another’s Life
When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?” Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!” John 21:21
Trapped in my own addiction, I was bitter towards those I knew who claimed God had miraculously delivered them from their addiction. They prayed, asking God to take it away, and poof, it was gone. I wanted that. I prayed for that. I got nothing. God told me to confess and go to treatment. That just didn’t seem fair. Why didn’t God give me the easy way out? Why did he make me do what others didn’t have to do? This isn’t fair God. I want what you’ve given them.
It’s natural for us to look at the deficiencies in our own lives, comparing ourselves to those who have what we don’t. Maybe it’s a better job, smarter kids, a more loving spouse, nicer house, or just a more functional family. We see what others have and we want it. We covet. We become bitter. We pine for something that isn’t ours, and we waste our time and energy worrying about someone else instead of working on our own transformation and growth.
This was the tone of Peter’s question to Jesus in today’s passage. Jesus had just commanded Peter to follow him and then, somewhat cryptically, prophesied that he would someday die as a martyr. Peter, dismayed, looked at John and asked Jesus about his fate. What about him, is he going to be killed for his faith too? I don’t want to be the only one to suffer (my paraphrase). Jesus told Peter to mind his own business. He said that Peter’s focus should be on his own life. He need not worry about God’s plan for John. Peter’s job was to follow Christ and to be content with that.
That’s a pretty good lesson for us. It’s futility to look to another’s life, wishing for what someone else has. That leads only to bitterness and does nothing to transform our own lives. As Jesus told Peter, our job is to focus on ourselves. What do I need to do to follow God? What do I need to change? We don’t find transformation in wishing for what someone else has. It’s only in following God’s plan that we find the life he desires for us.