The Green Sickness

Toscanini Puccini

Toscanini PucciniA story is told about two great Italian symphony conductors, Toscanini and Mascagni. Mascagni was a proud, egotistical, unbelievably terrible character. Just to give you an idea of what he was like, he dedicated one of the operas he wrote to himself. Well, Mascagni resented Toscanini because of Toscanini’s popularity.

One day, a committee in charge of putting on a music festival in Milan inquired as to whether Toscanini and Mascagni would both lead the orchestration. Mascagni was so jealous of Toscanini that he didn’t even try to hide it. So he said, “I will conduct on one condition — that I am paid more money than Toscanini.” The management agreed, and at the close of the festival, Mascagni received his fee — one lira. Toscanini had conducted for nothing, and Mascagni came out looking like a fool.

Let me remind you of a story in the Old Testament. King Saul had a son named Jonathan, who was likely next in line to inherit the throne. Then along came a singer by the name of David. Not only was he a singer, he was also a great shepherd, a giant-killer, articulate, poetic, a supreme musician — he had all kinds of abilities. One person with so much talent could be a very unpopular fellow. And with Saul he was. Saul hated him. He was jealous of David. The people were giving David more praise than Saul. Maybe David would even try to take the throne! So, one day, in a fit of fury, Saul grabbed his spear and threw it at David, trying to kill him.

Now we don’t know much about Saul’s son, Jonathan. We don’t know anything about his musical ability, or his articulation or much of anything else about him. But, scripture does let us know one very important thing about him — Jonathan never had any jealousy of David. You may say, “Well, he didn’t stand to lose as much as Saul.” But he did. He was in line for the throne, and from the human perspective it could one day have been his. But the Bible says this about Jonathan, “And he [Jonathan] loved him [David] as he loved his own soul.” (I Samuel 20:17).

Do you see what made the difference between Saul and Jonathan? It was a difference of love. Saul was jealous, and Jonathan wasn’t. The reason is that Jonathan loved David, and love can’t be jealous (I Cor. 13:4).

So how are YOU doing? Do you ever get jealous over someone who owns more than you, is more attractive than you, has a better job than you, is more eloquent than you, is smarter than you, is thinner than you, wears nicer clothes than you, drives a nicer car than you, has more friends than you, has a happier marriage than you, gets better grades than you, and so on?

Strive to grow in love, because love can’t be jealous.

Alan Smith

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