Summary: A sermon dealing with the danger of succumbing to a spirit of jealousy
Saul was very angry; this refrain galled him. “They have credited David with tens of thousands,” he thought, “but me with only thousands. What more can he get but the kingdom?” And from that time on Saul kept a jealous eye on David...In everything [Da-vid] did he had great success, because the Lord was with him.--I Samuel 18:8, 9, 14
HOW TO OVERCOME A JEALOUS SPIRIT
To be jealous of someone is to be intolerant and hostile toward a person who is perceived to be a threat or a rival to one’s position or authority. A jealous spirit stems from feelings of over-possessiveness and holding too high an opinion of oneself. The jealous person feels like no one else can—or should be able to—do what they do; the jealous person feels that no one else has the right to do what they can do. Instead of admiring the capabilities, competence, excellence or talents of another, the jealous person views these qualities as a challenge to who they are.
A jealous spirit reveals a flaw in one’s character. It’s an admission of one’s feelings of inadequacy; it’s a way of defending ourselves against the reality that someone may be better at something than we are. When we behave jealously toward another’s accomplishments, we’re actually showing our inability to deal with the truth. No one likes to think of himself as not measuring up to another. But a reality of life is that there will always be someone who is better at something than we are. But rather than accept that reality, the one who is controlled by a spirit of jealousy will feed his feelings of inadequacy through displays of anger and resentment toward what another has achieved.
Then a third thing about jealousy is that jealousy is often the result of our frustration at wasted opportunities. People who have wasted their opportunities often can’t accept the fact that another won’t make the same mistake, and the jealous person will do all that he can to deny the other fellow an opportunity to succeed where he has failed. It’s that kind of attitude that gives birth to stumbling blocks. You may have tried something; you may have tried to do something positive; you may have labored long and hard to bring something to fruition. And for whatever reason, you didn’t achieve your goal. Perhaps it had to do with your job; maybe you set certain career goals for yourself, but you wasted your opportunities and fell short of your goal. And now, you’ve made up your mind that, if you can’t succeed then no one will succeed, and you’re doing all that you can to mess up the program. Maybe it had something to do with your personal life; maybe you came from a negative family situation; perhaps you weren’t given the same opportunity to achieve that others had because you looked a certain way or because you came from a certain part of town or because your hair was of a different texture from somebody else. And it’s bad that that kind of thing happens to anybody. But now, you’re so filled with bitterness and frustration that every chance you get, you try to hold someone else back and keep them down the way others kept you down. And you don’t see any harm in what you’re doing because your frustration and disappointment has so warped your perspective that, in your mind, wrong is right and evil is good.
Well, this brings us to a fourth point about jealousy: Jealousy almost always reveals itself in a destructive manner. It can start off with negative talk and little dirty dealings, but if it goes on unchecked, jealousy can lead to terrible tragedy. Jealousy caused Cain to kill his brother Abel; jealousy caused Lot to turn his back on his uncle Abraham; jealousy caused Joseph’s brothers to sell him into slavery. And just like jealousy destroyed in the days of old, jealousy is destroying a lot of us right now. Some husband and wife are at each other’s throats today over jealousy; some brother and sister can’t stand to be in each other’s presence because of jealousy; somebody is in the hospital, or worse yet, in the cemetery because of somebody else’s jealousy.
But even more than the destructive nature of a jealous spirit, you need to know today that jealousy cuts you off from God. You see the jealous man or woman sees his life as being in his hands; they see their success or failure as ultimately being up to them. But when you have the right outlook on life, then you know that you don’t need to be jealous of anybody because God is in charge. And if God is in charge, then no one can take from you what God has given you; if God is in charge, then I’m not be concerned with what God has blessed somebody else with, but I’m focusing all my energy on doing the best that I can with what God gave me. But when we take our minds off of that and worry about what someone else has, we’re leaving God completely out of the situation. And whenever we leave God out, we’re headed for trouble. When we take our minds off of using what God has given us and get concerned about what God has given some-one else, what we’re really doing is discounting the value of God’s gift to us. When I think about Jesus’ parable of the talents—where a Master gave 5 talents to one man, 2 to a second and 1 to a third, and the third fellow did nothing with what the Master gave him—though the scripture doesn’t say so, I wonder if part of the one-talent man’s pro-blem was that he was so jealous that the five-talent and two-talent man were given more than he had that he put no value on what he had and decided that, rather than do the best that he could with what he had, he wasn’t going to do anything. And the result of his jealous behavior was that it cut him off from the Master’s favor, for when the Master returned, he took away from the man the one talent that he had.