The movie Amadeus depicts Antonio Salieri as a composer who couldn’t enjoy his gift because he happened to live at the same time as the great Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Salieri worked diligently to create a decent musical work, only to watch the impish Mozart sit down at the piano and play soaring music, seemingly off the top of his head. Salieri begged God for Mozart’s gift, but he believed that God gave him just enough talent to recognize the many ways he didn’t measure up.
As I watched a talent show on TV, I was greatly impressed by a gifted musical group. Collectively, the musicians played more than 15 different instruments. Videos of their spirited blend of Irish-influenced music and dance consistently go viral. The 12 siblings who comprise the uber-talented Willis Clan have appeared on other television programs, and they even have their own successful reality TV show.
In one of Aesop’s Fables, a ravenous fox notices some grapes hanging on a vine. He leaps into the air, but he can’t reach the fruit. Dejected, he trots off and remarks, “Oh you aren’t even ripe yet! I don’t need any sour grapes.”
In the children’s book series How to Train Your Dragon, the protagonist Hiccup has a cousin named Snotlout who’s as mean as they get. Snotlout is determined to inherit the tribal chieftaincy in Hiccup’s place, and embarks on a number of schemes to sabotage his cousin. But Hiccup consistently chooses to reach out to Snotlout. Even after Snotlout’s father rejects him for his wickedness, Hiccup doesn’t give up on him. Eventually, Hiccup’s faith is rewarded as Snotlout shows the colors of a true friend.
Thomas J. DeLong, a professor at Harvard Business School, has noted a disturbing trend among his students and colleagues—a comparison obsession. He writes: “Business executives, Wall Street analysts, lawyers, doctors and other professionals are obsessed with comparing their own achievements against those of others. . . . I have interviewed hundreds of HNAPs (high-need-for-achievement-professionals) about this phenomenon and discovered that comparing has reached almost epidemic proportions. This is bad for individuals and bad for companies [and it leads to diminished satisfaction].” It’s also especially bad for believers in Jesus.
Essayist Joseph Epstein writes, “Of the seven deadly sins, only envy is no fun at all.” He goes on to say that envy makes us look “ungenerous, mean, and small-hearted.” There’s plenty of research to back up Epstein’s statement. In fact, psychologists have found that envy decreases life satisfaction and diminishes well-being. It’s correlated with depression and neuroticism, and the hostility envy breeds may actually make us physically sick.
As my sister and I were growing up, our parents taught us about the love of Jesus and to enjoy intimate prayer with Him. As I grew older, sometimes life’s varied challenges pressed hard on me, and my prayers became requests based on need rather than tender dialogues with the One who delights in giving to His children (Matthew 7:11). In other words, my prayers were based on circumstances rather than on God’s character. Over time, I’ve learned to ask according not only to His will but also His goodness.
My friend noticed that his maple tree was shedding leaves prematurely. The tree doctor told him his tree was suffering from a girdling root. It had taken 30 years, but the offending root had encircled the tree and was now slowly choking it. If my friend didn’t dig down and hack the root off, the tree would die.
Scott and Robin began to worry when cracks appeared in the walls of their home. Over the course of 2 weeks, the fractures widened until their garage dropped away from their house. The rest of their property shifted and eventually sank 10 feet below street level. Then eight of their neighbors endured the same gradual catastrophe, linked to underground leakage from a county water system.
An English media personality was highly honored when he was alive. At his funeral, someone said of him, “His story was an epic of giving. Giving of time, giving of talent, giving of treasure. [He] can face eternal life with confidence.” But then the police launched a criminal investigation into more than 300 allegations of child sexual abuse and rape by the deceased.
Who’s the brightest person in the world—the one with the highest IQ? Some would name Abdesselam Jelloul, who has an IQ of 198. Others say it’s Marilyn vos Savant with her IQ of 228. The Guinness Book of World Records lists physicist and engineer Kim Ung-Yong as having the highest confirmed IQ in the world (210). Interestingly, Albert Einstein had an IQ of “only” 160, while the average IQ for human beings is 90-109.
A student was praising one of my colleagues, and I was glad to hear it. This student had been critical of the professor, so I was pleased that she now saw what I already knew. But when she said that the professor’s class was her favorite, I felt a twinge of sadness. Why not mine? I had cheered for my…
There are two essential spiritual truths that we ignore at our peril. The first is that a variety of “gods” seek our allegiance. The second is that we take on the qualities of the gods we worship. Jesus described money as one of these alternative gods, and the secular world is now telling us how worshiping this god affects us.…
A frustrated female investment banker had a problem with her looks. It wasn’t that she felt unattractive. Au contraire. She believed that she was too good-looking to be effective at work. Her complaint went like this: “I feel [my beauty is] holding me back. Female colleagues distrust me, while male colleagues are drawn to me but don’t take me very seriously.…
Grumble Rumble is a website that allows you to air your complaints. It claims: “Our goal is to help you improve your life surroundings and reduce your stress by providing an easy, simple platform to register and resolve complaints.”
If there had been a website like this during Moses’ time, the Israelites would surely have been among its key patrons.…