Jealousy is a powerful, wicked mindset. It is alive and well when we see someone who has something we don’t … and we want it so badly that we wish ill on those who have it.
It is a sin that will destroy us as it eats us up. B.C. Forbes has rightly said that “jealousy … is a mental cancer.”
As I was reading in God’s Word this morning, I came across the story of the Apostle Paul and Barnabas as they were preaching the life-giving message of the Gospel. They were telling people how they could be forgiven of their sins and brought into a relationship with the God of Heaven.
But, there were folks in the crowd who became filled with jealousy…
Acts 13:44-45 (CSB) “The following Sabbath almost the whole town assembled to hear the word of the Lord. But when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and began to contradict what Paul was saying, insulting him.”
Did you get that? There were folks in the crowd who became intoxicated with jealousy. They observed that Paul and Barnabas were gathering larger crowds and they became so envious that they couldn’t see straight.
What are the symptoms of jealousy? How do you know if this is a problem for you?
- You are resentful of what someone else has or has achieved or any number of other possibilities.
- The very thought of celebrating that person’s possession, success, etc. is abhorrent to you. If someone else celebrates it, you will mentally disengage and clam up. You literally are incapable of saying anything nice … and if you do, you know that you are hiding the true feelings of your heart.
- You will soon find yourself unable to separate the person from what has aroused your jealousy. They are now the object of your disdain.
- Since you have come to think of their possession, success, etc. as an injustice, you may begin to undermine that person by slandering them to others. Essentially, you are trying to take away what you don’t want that person to have.
This is exactly what the Jews did in Acts 13. They became intoxicated with jealousy because Paul and Barnabas were enjoying a fruitful ministry while their own crowds may have been small. So, they began to do whatever they could to take away what Paul and Barnabas had (the crowds and Kingdom effectiveness).
What was the consequence? What happened when jealousy robbed Paul and Barnabas of their ability to effectively share the Gospel message?
Acts 13:46 “Paul and Barnabas boldly replied, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken to you first. Since you reject it and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, we are turning to the Gentiles.”
The Gospel was taken from those who jealously fought against it!
This principle applies to ministry but it applies to a multitude of other scenarios as well. Jealousy will eat us up and may take away the good things that others could have enjoyed.
Please, please, please fight against any ounce of jealousy you may have in your mind and heart.
I’ll end this post with some verses that tell us what God thinks of jealousy/envy.
1 Corinthians 3:2-3 (CSB) “I gave you milk to drink, not solid food, since you were not yet ready for it. In fact, you are still not ready, because you are still worldly. For since there is envy and strife, among you, are you not worldly and behaving like mere humans?”
1 Corinthians 13:4 (CSB) “Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not envy, is not boastful, is not arrogant,”
Proverbs 14:30 (CSB) “A tranquil heart is life to the body, but jealousy is rottenness to the bones.”
Philippians 2:3 (CSB) “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves.”
James 3:14-16 (CSB) “But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your heart, don’t boast and deny the truth. Such wisdom does not come down from above but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where there is envy and selfish ambition, there is disorder and every evil practice.”
Galatians 5:14-15 (CSB) “For the whole law is fulfilled in one statement: Love your neighbor as yourself. But if you bite and devour one another, watch out, or you will be consumed by one another.”