Christian Devotionals

"The Subtle Destructiveness of Jealousy"

4 Anger is cruel and fury overwhelming, but who can stand before jealousy?
Proverbs 27:4 (New International Version)

Jealousy is a very powerful and destructive emotion. Our Bible verse above says “who can stand before” it. The New Living Translation puts it this way:

4 Anger is cruel, and wrath is like a flood, but jealousy is even more dangerous.
Proverbs 27:4 (New Living Translation)

We’ve all seen the news clips of the destructive floods gripping the Midwest. Roads and bridges have been swept away, houses are falling over cliffs and people are being rescued from their vehicles by helicopter. Yet, the Bible tells us that “jealousy is even more dangerous.” That is quite a statement considering the shear power and destructiveness of a flood. Yet, there is a lot of credibility to this statement because throughout history we have seen how jealousy has lead to severed relationships, divorce, murder, even war.

Let’s take a moment though to examine our own hearts. Are we jealous of others? I’m not talking about the guy who gets jealous when his girlfriend talks to another man, although that certainly falls under the category of jealousy. I’m talking about more subtle forms of jealousy such as being envious of another person’s position, possessions or abilities. Do you covet that person’s house, their lifestyle or the things that come along with it? Last time that I checked, coveting is a direct violation of the tenth commandment (Exodus 20:17). When the Lord gave the Ten Commandments to the ancient Israelites, He was well aware of how jealousy and covetousness could destroy anything in its path. The first murder in human history occurred when a jealous Cain killed his own brother after he learned that God was more pleased with Abel’s sacrifice than his own. Hopefully none of us are jealous to the point of murder, but the coveting emotion needs to be recognized and dealt with.

Let’s zero in on an even more subtle form of jealousy: envying someone else’s gifts or talents. Sure we’d all like to hit the ball like Tiger Woods or cook like Rachael ray, but let’s get even closer to home. Are you jealous of how another person at church sings or plays an instrument? I find that the artist types seem to be more jealous than most people. I consider myself to be an artist. I write, sing and act. There was a time, however, when I couldn’t enjoy hearing a better singer sing or a better actor act, especially on the amateur level (where I am). Rather than enjoy the performance for what it was, I’d do the comparative thing. I’d measure where I stacked up in comparison to them and if they were “worse” than me – I’d be critical – and if they were better than me – I’d fall into despair (e.g. “Why do I even try to compete, I’ll never be that good,” etc.). What a terrible way to go through life! Jealousy was robbing me of so much joy. It wasn’t until I read the book “The Heart of the Artist” by Rory Noland that I recognized how sinful I was being and how self-defeating all this petty jealousy was. Noland tells us in his book that artists are a particularly envious bunch. He went on to remind us that jealousy is a sin. Rather than keeping score of what we lack in talent, we should be grateful for the gifts that God has already blessed us with and use them. And when it comes to singing, acting or performing in a church setting, we should always remember that it’s all for God’s glory. So the next time a peer at church hits a homerun during a solo performance, praise God! He is being glorified.

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