6-Week Series: Against All Odds


Summary: This message looks at how churches and Christians tend to view other churches and believers with jealousy. How can we move beyond that and find more joy?

Ways We Lose Sight Of The Goal In Our Kingdom Work:

1. Resenting another person or church’s rising popularity.

- John 3:25-26.

- Considering that John had repeatedly spoken to his disciples about Jesus and who He is, their resentment is stunning.

- First of all, they don’t even have the courtesy to refer to Jesus by name.

- They call Him “the man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan – the one you testified about” (v. 25). Rather than honoring and praising His name, they are so resentful that they won’t even speak it.

- Secondly, rather than rejoicing in people being baptized, they’re resentful that people aren’t being baptized by them (v. 22, 26).

- Third, it’s not like John was having no success. Verse 23 tells us that people were coming constantly to be baptized by him and his disciples.

- So it’s not like his disciples had seen “business dry up” and were resentful of the One who took away all their “business.”

- Fourth, their resentment is skewing the way they see reality. Verse 26 has them claiming that “everyone” is going over to Jesus when we’ve just been told that they were constantly baptizing people (v. 23).

- A common problem among Kingdom workers is jealousy stemming from pride.

- We’re filled with jealousy as we see what God is doing in someone else’s life or in another church’s life. And that jealousy comes from our pride – believing that we’re the ones that He should be doing the most in.

- People say nice things about us (sometimes sincerely, sometimes manipulatively). We begin to believe what we hear.

- It’s easy to get puffed up by what people say about us.

- People may try to put us on a pedestal and we find that we like the view from up there.

- We live in a society of self-promotion.

- Companies are touting how great their products are.

- People explain why they’re the best.

- It all adds up to: “I must increase.”

- In religious circles, many are bothered by the success of those around them.

a. One church is upset that the other church in town is growing.

- Church ABC has been in slow decline for a while. When Church XYZ in town turns a corner and begins to see people saved and attendance rise, the response among Church ABC’s people is looking for evil reasons for the growth. (Or, if they don’t go so far as to look for evil reasons for the growth, nonetheless thinking about Church XYZ brings a frown to their face rather than a smile.)

b. A pastor is upset at another’s pastor’s success.

- Two pastors graduate from seminary together. When one of them begins to see rapid growth in his congregation and many invitations to speak at revivals and conferences, the other is filled with jealousy at his lesser lot and relative lack of opportunity.

c. A Christian is jealous that a fellow Christian is being used more by God.

- Talking at work, one mentions that his Sunday School has doubled over the last year with young couples coming into the church. The other’s main feeling is resentment that his class is not growing.

d. A Christian is jealous that a fellow Christian is being honored by God.

- A Christian neighbor shares the jaw-dropping story of an answered prayer. The other responds outwardly with an “Amen” but inwardly by wondering why God hasn’t done something like that for her.

- This competition and pride reduces our joy.

- What is the dispute that is mentioned in v. 25? Bob Deffinbaugh provides one idea: We are not told what is said in this dispute. For the purposes of illustration and clarification, allow me to suggest one possible scenario: John’s disciples encounter a Jew and ask him if he wishes to be baptized. He responds that he is not interested; he is convinced that the Jewish ceremonial cleansings are more effective. Unwilling to leave it at this, the disciples begin to debate with him. Seeing that he is not making any progress, the Jew may have “put the icing on the cake” with a statement something like: “Well what are you so dogmatic about? Don’t you know that Jesus is baptizing in the same way you are, and far more people are going to Him than to you folks? Why don’t you just give it up?” John’s disciples return to him frustrated and upset, not with the Jew, but with Jesus.

- When someone mentions the largest or the most dynamic or the most rapidly-growing church in our area, do we respond inwardly with negative thoughts toward that church or outwardly with mitigating reasons for that church’s success?

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