ealousy is a work of the flesh which is ruinous to the character of man. It is a sin of disposition which is both mean and wicked. It is a malicious spirit that seeks to deny or destroy the good it sees in others. Solomon declared that “…jealousy enrages a man, and he will not spare in the day of vengeance” (Proverbs 6:34).
Man’s history is clouded with fits of jealousy that have wreaked havoc. Cain was jealous of his brother Abel and murdered him (Genesis 4:1-8). Sarah’s jealousy of her handmaid, Hagar, motivated her to treat Hagar harshly (Genesis 16:1-6). King Saul’s jealousy of David blinded him to the admirable qualities David possessed which could have been utilized for the benefit of the nation of Israel (1 Samuel 18:8-30). The brother of the prodigal son in the famous parable of Luke chapter 15 was unable to rejoice in the recovery of his fallen brother because of jealousy. The Lord’s church in the ancient city of Corinth was successful in many ways: they possessed affluence, education, and sophistication – things for which they had worked hard. They were also richly blessed. One of the miraculous gifts that God gave to some was the ability to speak in languages they had never studied. However, not everyone in the congregation had the highly visible and impressive gift of speaking in other languages. Those who did possess the gift seemed to have a self-righteous spirit and advocated that their possession of it made them spiritually superior to others. Those who had the gift and those who did not were jealous of each other and this jealousy produced divisions and rivalries where there should have been love and mutual support. The church was on the verge of splintering into competing factions.
Jealousy still threatens today. One sibling makes it big and the other wants to break off family ties. A friend gains popularity and the other wants to find a new friend. One person gets more public recognition than others and some want to try and discredit him. Oscar Wilde said, “Anyone can sympathize with the sufferings of a friend, but it requires a very fine nature to sympathize with a friend’s success.”
Jealousy has no cultural, racial, social or economic barriers. It has afflicted all people and been the ruin of many. It has divided families, destroyed friendships, ruined health, and split churches. Jealousy acts as a wedge to destroy harmony and unity between best friends. Indeed, it has a destructive power about it that is difficult to overcome. Solomon declared, “Wrath is fierce and anger is a flood, but who can stand before jealousy?” (Proverbs 27:4). The apostle James stated that “…where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing” (James 3:16).
It is harmful as well as wrong to be jealous of someone else’s success, whether they have earned it or it has been given to them. It is wrong because God says so, but it is also wrong because it is so destructive.
Jealousy is a manifestation of spiritual immaturity (1 Corinthians 3:3). It will dwarf, wither, and shrivel the soul and fill one’s life with hatred and bitterness and make life miserable and wretched. The antidote for jealousy, then as now, is respect and love. To love is to rejoice in another’s good and to seek his welfare; this is Godlike. To be filled with jealousy is to have the murderous hatred of Cain who slew his brother; this is satanic. Be Godlike!