Jealousy the Green Eyed Monster
Dr. George Cherian
Cancer is a dreadful disease that scares the human race in spite of the medical advance by the scientific world. Absence of outward symptoms in the initial stages makes this disease more frightening. It is no wonder that many go through regular check up to look for danger signals. But there is a spiritual disease more deadly than cancer. Jealousy is rarely discerned early by the envious person and if left undetected will warp his personality and attitude causing breaking of relationships. The Bible says, “A peaceful heart leads to a healthy body; jealousy is like cancer in the bones.”
The tragic story of King Saul of Israel is a classic example for a character distorted and a life destroyed by jealousy. A man who from the obscurity was lifted to the highest level in the country got jealous just because a young man got the applause of the crowd. Saul became insecure and threatened, from the moment he heard the young women sing in the streets that, Saul has slain his thousands,and David his tens of thousands." 1 Sam 18:7. From that very moment Saul became an enemy of David. The bible says that he reigned forty years. How well could he have lived, if his attitude and hence his relationships with others were kept happy and secure! The green eyed monster of jealousy plundered the blessings and happiness out of his life.“The Bible says, "A peaceful heart leads to a healthy body; jealousy is like cancer in the bones.
This is such a deceptive sin that the most saintly can carry in his inner heart. The story is told of a saintly monk who went for meditation in the desert. All went well until someone whispered in his ear that his brother was made the bishop of Alexandria. Jealousy can quash unity and harmony and can create havoc in any situations. It has destroyed homes, friendships and business partnerships. Yet, the saddest consequence is that it destroys the one who holds and cherishes in the heart
Marks of a Jealous Person
- Discontented spirit. It is rare to find a jealous person happy and contented with what he has in life. From the least of the tribe in Israel, the Lord raised Saul to be the King. But when the women of Jerusalem danced and praised young David in his victory over Goliath, Saul became jealous and angry. Saul was unable to see abundant grace of God showered in his life. See the words that come out of a jealous heart. "They have credited David with tens of thousands," he thought, "but me with only thousands. What more can he get but the kingdom?" (1 Sam 18:8-9) This discontentment is the result of not trusting in the sovereignty and wisdom of God in dispensing His good gifts as He pleases.
- A jealous person finds it hard to be at peace when others are doing better and more successful. In the book of Genesis we see Isaac’s crops multiplying a hundred fold because of God’s blessing. The Philistines began to envy him and began to cover the wells Isaac had dug. The story of Isaac in 26th chapter of the book of Genesis teaches the lesson that jealous and envious reactions of the Philistines did not stifle the blessings of Isaac.
- Jealousy is sad at the success and happiness of others. This is much felt in the arena of profession. Professional envy reigns in all areas, even in the spiritual ministry. Even as the Bible opens its first few pages we see the portrait of a jealous man. Sin just entered the universe and the first siblings Cain and Abel came to submit offerings of sacrifice to the Lord. When Cain saw that Abel, his brother’s sacrifice was accepted while his was rejected, the Bible says, “So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.”(Gen 4:5). God’s question to Cain, why is your face downcast?”, cuts open his heart to reveal the spirit of envy in his life. Cain was sad and sorrowful for the wrong thing. He should have been mournful of his unacceptable sacrifice than being sad at the happiness of Abel. It is interesting to see that a similar spirit develops in the heart of the elder brother in the story of the prodigal son. The joy and celebration in the house on the return of the prodigal brother annoyed the heart of the obedient and dutiful elder brother. He cannot tolerate happiness in the life of the wayward brother.
CONSEQUENCES OF HARBORING:
A JEALOUS SPIRIT
1. Jealousy will create a revengeful heart
Continuing the story of Cain and Abel we note that the sad heart of Cain became an angry heart and soon a revengeful heart seeking the ruin of his brother. The sad history of murder in the family warns us of the consequences of unchecked jealousy.Jealousy has shed blood of many innocent lives. Jesus made it clear in the Sermon on the Mount that being angry in the heart and seeking ill for others is sinful and reckoned like murder. Jealous King Saul spent most of his time chasing David and trying to destroy his life. The story is told of a wrestler who was unhappy that the community decided to erect the statue of his competitor to honour his successes in the game. The jealous wrestler decided to pull down the statue. Every night he would chisel a bit out of the base. One night as he was chiselling the base the statue fell but it fell upon him and killed him. Although an imaginative story, it brings out the lesson that a jealous heart that seeks to destroy the reputation, character and success of others will ultimately destroy itself.
2. Jealousy will create a critical spirit
Criticism refines and polishes us and is needed for our holistic development and progress. But many a time criticism comes out of ill will and envy. A jealous person will soon look for flaws of whom he is envious about. In Numbers 12 we see the criticism of Aaron and Mariam. They were critical of Moses taking a Cushite wife. But the hidden spirit behind the criticism is revealed in the comments they make. “Has the Lord spoken only through Moses?" they asked. "Hasn't he also spoken through us?"(Numb 12:1-20) They were jealous of the special privilege and position Moses enjoyed. While the world hears what we say, the Lord hears the heart of the criticiser. The rebuke and the punishment Mariam received should warn us against unwarranted criticism and the envious heart that caused it.
3. Spirit of jealousy ruins our spiritual life
Bitterness and hatred that creeps into our envious heart will hold us from enjoying God’s presence and spiritual things. An envious heart is usually preoccupied with those whom he is jealous about. An unclean heart cannot rejoice in the presence of God and consequently the appetite for God’s word diminishes. When you study the life of King Saul, there is a very tragic statement about his spiritual condition. During the last days he was seen fearful and anxious. “When Saul saw the Philistine army, he was afraid; terror filled his heart. He inquired of the Lord, but the Lord did not answer him by dreams or Urim or prophets.”(1 Sam 28:5-6). God and his word was absent in his life.
GOOD NEWS IS THAT WE CAN OVERCOME THIS SIN
- Like any other sin, acknowledge it. Jealousy is a secret sin most of the time residing in the inner recesses of our heart. Even when we see some of the symptoms of this secret sin, we fail to detect this hideous sin and confess it. To get rid of this besetting sin we have to acknowledge and confess it to God.
- Count your blessings and thank God for all what God has done for you and always remember that success of others is not a threat for your life and progress.
- Remember that Christ can cleanse us and give us the power to overcome this evil attitude in our life.
- Cultivate the habit of enjoying the success of others.
- Draw close to God and he will draw close to you.
F.B. Meyer, a gifted preacher, was faced with this problem. Meyer had apprehension when Campel Morgan decided to start a church in the vicinity of his own church. He commented that it was easy to pray for Morgan when he was on the other side of the sea but when he came next door; it was very difficult to pray for his success. With the grace of God Meyer was able to overcome this wrong attitude. He continued to pray for the success of Campel’s ministry and also it is said that he even cancelled the evening service so that his members could listen to Campel Morgan. God was faithful. He did fill Campel Morgan’s church and also Meyer’s church. Readers of Christian literature can never miss the powerful life changing classics written by the godly F.B.Meyer. It is not that the saint was not tempted to envy, but by the grace of God he became an over comer over the sin that downed many in this world.