I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. (Psalm 139:14)
Even a cursory glance through sacred Scripture provides some sad examples of those who resented the relationship that others had with God. Cain resented his brother Able’s relationship with God, and it ended in murder. Jacob resented the relationship his brother Esau had with his father as firstborn, and so Jacob deceived Esau to obtain his father’s blessing. We even see the disciples of Christ arguing over which of them would be greatest in the kingdom of heaven . . . at the very time when Jesus was on His way to the cross to die for their sins!
Because we are uniquely made by God, we all experience our relationship with Him in unique ways. To resent the relationship that someone else has with God is an offense to the One who created us. We’ll frequently hear people say, “I wish I had his gift of singing” or “If only I had the gift of administration/hospitality/teaching that so-and-so has.” One of the most common laments I hear is, “I just can’t pray in public like she can.” All these statements are evidence of relationship resentment that is simmering because of the differences we see in others.
But this is not for you! Psalm 139 tells us to praise God because we are fearfully and wonderfully made. We did not come rolling off some automated Almighty assembly line exactly like those before us and after us. We are purposefully made by God and wired to witness for Him in a way like no one else. There is only one YOU in the entire world, and your relationship with Him will be completely different than anyone else’s. God’s plan for your life is YOUR plan. He designed it specifically for you to walk in and witness for Him. Remember, “God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be” (1 Corinthians 12:18). There are no “accidents” in God’s plan; He made you just as He wants you to be.
Have you been dealing with any relationship resentment lately? If you have, know that this is nothing more than Satan working to take your eyes off of Jesus and put them on yourself. There are plenty of others who have done that! James and John had walked and talked intimately with Jesus for more than three years, yet they sent their mother to ask Jesus to give them the chief seats in the kingdom of God (Matthew 20:20). The key to avoiding this scheme of the adversary is to keep your eyes on Jesus, knowing that He is working both in you and through you to bring glory to God and good to all others.
Peter is a rich source of sermon illustrations; his heart was filled with love for Jesus, yet often he would veer off the spiritual path and tumble into a ditch . . . much like you and me! One minute Peter would be walking on water, looking straight into the eyes of Jesus, and the next he would glance fearfully at his circumstances and start to sink.
I often preach on Jesus’ sweet restoration of Peter to fellowship with Him after Peter had denied the Lord on the night of His arrest. How Peter’s heart must have raced with love at the grace of our God! And yet, while Scripture doesn’t come right out and say so, it seems that Peter turned right around and lapsed into relationship resentment. Peter had told Jesus three times, “I love you” (thus wiping away his three denials of the Lord), and Jesus told Peter how his death would glorify God. Then Jesus commanded, “Follow me!” At that point –
Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. . . . When Peter saw [John], he asked, “Lord, what about him?”
Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” (John 21:20-22)
Jesus had different relationships with Peter and John and different plans for each of them, but that didn’t mean that Peter’s path was any less valued by God. Be encouraged by the relationship you have with your Redeemer, no matter how different it may be from His relationship with others. He died on a cross to make it possible! Surely that should be reason to rejoice in your relationship with Him . . . and feel no resentment.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!