We're going to look this evening at the threefold effect of jealousy.
A story is told of two shopkeepers who were bitter rivals. Their stores were directly across the street from each other, and they would spend each day keeping track of each other’s business. If one got a customer, he would smile in triumph at his rival. One night an angel appeared to one of the shopkeepers in a dream and said, “I will give you anything you ask, but whatever you receive, your competitor will receive twice as much. Would you be rich? You can be very rich, but he will be twice as wealthy. Do you wish to live a long and healthy life? You can, but his life will be longer and healthier. What is your desire?” The man frowned, thought for a moment, and then said, “Here is my request: Strike me blind in one eye!”
These shopkeepers struggled with a common problem that we all struggle with - the problem of jealousy. Have you ever known of someone who suffered from jealousy? What did they think about it? The person they were jealous of...
What did they talk about? that other person
What was the driving force in everything that they did? that other person
Jealousy is easy to fall prey to. It is something that makes people do things that they normally would never do.
It caused Cain to kill Abel.
- 1 John 3:11-12, ASV
Abels deeds were righteous, he was approved by God, and it caused Cain to be jealous and he rose up and killed him.
It caused Saul to try to kill David, his son’s best friend and the one who had saved Israel from the Philistines.
- 2 Samuel 18:7-9, ASV
Jealousy is something that we as Christians cannot have in our lives. I want to look at today at the threefold effect of jealousy.
The Internal Effect of Jealousy
I want to point out that there is a distinction between jealousy and envy. To envy is to want something which belongs to another person.
- Exodus 20:17, ASV
They were not to want to take something that belongs to another person. In contrast, jealousy is the fear that something that we possess will be taken away by another person.
The American Standard version draws a clearer distinction between jealousy and envy than the King James version.
The word more often refers to anxiety which comes when we are afraid that the affections of a loved one might be lost to a rival.
It is interesting when you study the word that is translated into jealousy, the word is Zelos – a passionate commitment to a person or cause (Stumpf). Which is a good thing. We should have a passionate commitment to God, our spouse, etc. Thus, in a good way, we should have a passionate commitment. It depends on the attitude behind it.
This can be good or bad, the key is motivation. It can vary. It could be a commitment to high values, fascination, contact with sacred sentiments. It can also be due to injured honor, rivalry or envy, contentiousness, and irritability.
It is the motivation that determines the implications, whether they are positive, neutral, or negative. When our zeal is fueled by the wrong motivation then it causes an internal change in us. This is no new concept to God. We see that the rejection of Jesus was fueled by the wrong emotions.
- Acts 5:16-18, ASV
The KJV uses envy here. They were filled with jealousy. Jesus was not the only one that this happened.
- Acts 13:44-45, ASV
We look at these examples and may wonder what is going on, but once again God gives us some insight.
- Proverbs 6:34-35, ASV
The one motivated by jealousy will never be content. You see when our motivation is wrong it leads us to wrong attitudes and wrong actions.
Have we ever been jealous? Have you heard about something you were not invited to – how does that affect you? Ever been in a position where you tried something and were not that successful. Then someone else did something very similar and it was - how did that make you feel?
There is a great danger in jealousy.
There is a fable of a goose that could outfly another, and the other did not like it. One day the latter saw a hunter and said to him, “I wish you would bring down that goose.”
The sportsman replied that he would if he only had some feathers to put into the arrow. So the goose pulled one out of his wing. The arrow was shot, but didn’t quite reach the rival goose; it was flying too high. The jealous goose pulled out more feathers and kept pulling them out until he lost so many that he couldn’t fly, Then the sportsman turned around and killed him.
This is the internal effect. If we are jealous, one of the people we hurt is ourselves.
The External Effect of Jealousy
Not only does jealousy have an internal effect, but it also has an external effect. Notice what Solomon, the wisest man to ever live, had to say about jealousy:
- Proverbs 27:4, ASV
The Hebrew word here carries the same meaning as zeal. Here Solomon shows us that jealousy has an effect on our relationship with others. When you get right down to it the effect that it has is harmful to the relationship. Jealousy is so detrimental to relationships that it can cause a break in fellowship.
- 1 Corinthians 3:1-4, ASV
In this passage, Paul addresses the church at Corinth and he rebukes them for behaving in a human way with jealousy and strife among them. Notice that he says that he could not address them as spiritual people. Also, notice what the jealousy and strife had done to the congregation - “One says, ‘I follow Paul’ and another ‘I follow Apollos’” - they were divided.
The jealousy that was there had begun to break their fellowship with each other.
Jealousy also leads to other sins, which breaks fellowship with God. As we saw with Cain toward Abel, also with Saul and David, but notice what James said in chapter 3.
- James 3:13-18, ASV
Notice how jealousy is described here, it is earthly, sensual, unspiritual, even demonic. See what follows jealousy; disorder and every vile practice.
We can hardly begin to have fellowship with God when we are engaging in behavior that is described in this way or when our behavior will lead to other sins.
Jealousy harms our relationships with others. That is the external effect of jealousy.
The Eternal Effect of Jealousy
We have seen how jealousy has an effect internally and externally, but the most serious effect - the eternal effect.
Many people do not realize that something as small and petty as jealousy can be as serious as it is but God’s Word is very clear.
Let’s look at some more passages that deal with jealousy.
- Romans 13:11-14, ASV
What kind of activities is jealousy when put within this passage? Revelry, drunkenness, lewdness, sensuality, and strife were present. Have you ever really equated jealousy with activities such as these?
- 2 Corinthians 12:20-21, ASV
Again, we see the church at Corinth still had not overcome their struggle with jealousy - we saw it earlier in 1 Corinthians and we see it here again they continue to have problems with. Once again notice what kind of company jealousy keeps - quarreling, anger, hostility, slander, gossip, conceit, and disorder.
Notice also what Paul said to them - “I may have to mourn over many of those who sinned earlier and have not repented...”
What impurities were mentioned? That list of things we just read- including jealousy. What this means is that when we find ourselves guilty of jealousy we need to repent.
- Galatians 5:19-21, ASV
One of the things that will keep us out of the Kingdom of Heaven is jealousy. If jealousy is something that characterizes your life you are in danger - eternally. Something that we might not think is that big of a deal really is.
Here we see that jealousy - has a threefold effect. An internal effect - causing us to focus on the wrong things. An external effect - causing a break in our relationships with others and God. An eternal effect - causing us to miss the kingdom of Heaven.
The question is, are you struggling with jealousy in your life right now? Are there people that always negatively consume your thoughts? Are there relationships with your family or with your brothers and sisters that have been damaged because you have felt jealous?
Do you feel like there is some distance between you and God? Remember what John said in 1 John 4:20.
If we cannot keep ourselves from being jealous and it comes between ourselves and our brother, we cannot love God. Ultimately, we'll have let jealousy come between ourselves and God when we keep focused on jealousy. Is jealousy between you and God?
The “Matador” Plant. In South America, there is a strange vine known as the matador. Beginning at the foot of a tree, it slowly makes its way to the top. As it grows, it kills the tree, and when at last the top is reached, it sends forth a flower to crown itself. Matador, loosely translated means, killer. Jealousy is much like this plant - It appears harmless when it is small, but if it is allowed to grow, its tendrils of malice and hatred soon clasp themselves around the heart and eventually kill the soul.
Don’t allow yourself to be killed spiritually by harboring jealousy.
If you see that little vine of jealousy growing, root it out. If you don't stop it may cost you your soul.
If you have not obeyed the gospel, you are lost, and we cannot go to Heaven when we are lost. You can believe in Jesus, repent of your sins, and be baptized to have your sins forgiven. From then, you can live your life right with God.
If you've been a Christian, baptized into the blood of the lamb, but have let jealousy or other sin lead you away from Christ, you can repent, turn back to the Lord, and be forgiven.
If you have questions about jealousy and how it affects salvation, please contact us.