My daughter recently celebrated a birthday. This is always a difficult time for her younger brother whose birthday is two months after hers. It is hard to explain to a 4-year old why he his sister is getting lots of gifts and he isn’t getting any. “Because it’s her birthday and not yours.”, simply isn’t good enough. So, the topic of jealousy is often at the top of our conversation this time every year.
As I pondered about how to communicate this feeling and how to handle it with our son, I realized that dealing with jealousy never stops. Even as adults we must work hard to honor God’s law of “loving one another as He loves us”. No one is above the human emotion of jealousy. Pastors, priests, best friends, close family, Christians, spouses . . . we all fall victim to this destructive feeling.
The apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders among the people. And all the believers used to meet together in Solomon’s Colonnade. No one else dared join them, even though they were highly regarded by the people. Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number. As a result, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by. Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by evil spirits, and all of them were healed. Then the high priest and all his associates, who were members of the party of the Sadducees, were filled with jealousy. Acts 5:12-17
In the passage above, from Acts, we see that the high priests and all his associates were so overcome with jealousy of Jesus’ disciples that they threw them in prison. A friend of mine recently shared this quote with me: “People love success, but hate the successful.” Read it again and let it sink in. Can you relate to this? I can.
Whether it is a twinge of jealously about a friend’s recent weight loss, their child’s accomplishments, career advancement, relationship with Christ or new shoes . . . God calls us to confront our feelings with honesty. I can attest that this isn’t fun or easy, but it has been necessary for me to grow closer to God. Jealousy, when hidden and unresolved, can lead to personal discontent, the destruction of friendships and puts a wedge in between you and your Heavenly Father. I urge you to repent and put up the shield of faith God has given you (Ephesians 6) and make a decision to deflect the temptation of jealousy. We will always battle the enemy and feelings of jealousy, but with God we can conquer it, release it and move closer to Him.
Work at getting along with each other and with God. Otherwise you’ll never get so much as a glimpse of God. Make sure no one gets left out of God’s generosity. Keep a sharp eye out for weeds of bitter discontent. A thistle or two gone to seed can ruin a whole garden in no time. Hebrews 12:14-15 (The Message)