Jealous for Christ
A. In addressing the topic of jealousy this morning, I would like to start by using a story the Dr. Gary Collins wrote:
“For many years Sir Walter Scott was the leading literary figure in the British Empire. No one could write as well as he. Then the works of Lord Byron began to appear, and their greatness was immediately evident. Soon an anonymous critic praised his poems in a London Paper. He declared that in the presence of these brilliant works of poetic genius, Scott could no longer be considered the leading poet of England. It was later discovered that the unnamed reviewer had been none other than Sir Walter Scott himself!
There is a distinction between jealousy and envy. To envy is to want something which belongs to another person. "You shall not covet your neighbor’s house, his wife or his servant, his ox or donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor." In contrast, jealousy is the fear that something which we possess will be taken away by another person.”
B. That is a great illustration, I believe, of jealousy – the fear that something we possess will be taken away by another person.
C. We all deal with this emotion and it demonstrates itself in many different ways. Two examples are our time and money.
1. We are jealous of our time – We want to do what we want to do when we want to do it
2. We are jealous of our money – We worked hard for this money and we will spend it how we see fit.
D. There are all different things we become jealous about. Which leads me to ask the poignant question – Are you jealous for Christ?
1. Are you as jealous about your relationship with Jesus as you are your time, money, or reputation?
2. Does that jealousy drive you to a closer more obedient walk with Christ?
E. This morning we are going to look at an example of jealousy as demonstrated through the Sadducees while contrasting that jealousy with the obedience and peace found in the disciples.
A. What an incredible story! Extraordinary faith demonstrated by ordinary people! Let’s look at how it contrasts with the belief of the Sadducees.
B. Remember, the essence of jealousy is that we are fearful to have what we have taken away.
C. With that reminder let’s look at some characteristics that are attributed to jealousy.
1. Jealousy breeds constant fear.
a. The Sadducees were afraid. Ever since Jesus showed up they were constantly in fear over the possibility of someone or something becoming more powerful then them. They were the ones who were the spiritual leaders in Jerusalem. They were the one’s who Israel looked to for guidance and direction. They were the “enforcers” of the law.
b. Then came Jesus calling them hypocrites and snakes while holding a higher knowledge of the law then they held. They thought they got rid of him by crucifying him. But he was resurrected and empowered his disciples to carry on the work through the Holy Spirit.
c. And now his disciples are doing miraculous things (v.12-16) and their following is growing larger then anything they have ever seen.
d. They were afraid that their existence would become irrelevant. That the prestige and perks that come from their position would be taken away.
e. Isn’t that one of our biggest fears – to find out that we have become irrelevant? That people don’t need us or find us important?
1e. Our children leave the house and go off to college and they don’t need us as much.
2e. We get passed over for a job promotion.
3e. Our friend goes to someone else for advice instead of us.
f. We live with this fear and it either paralyzes us or makes us do things we would never have done.
2. Jealousy breeds anger.
a. People deal with fear in all different kinds of ways. In the life of the Sadducees it bred anger.
b. The disciples were unashamed in their purpose and where unashamed about the role the Sadducees played in killing Jesus. These accusations caused the Sadducees to be very “furious” wanting to “put them to death”.
c. What does jealousy do to you? When people start taking away your dignity how do you react? When people put dents into your reputation what do you do?
d. Most of us become angered. We shake our fist at them and say, “I’ll show you. You’ve messed with the wrong person!” And we go and try to undo what has been done by hurting that person.
e. Jealousy breeds anger which breeds pain. Emotional or physical, it leads us to act ungodly.
3. Jealousy breeds a false sense of self-worth.
a. Instead of being the humble servants of God the Sadducees became the demonstrators of pious living. They would stand on the street corners and pray “Yahweh, thank you for not making me like that man across the street!”
b. They would fast and let everyone know it. They were the exhibitionists of meritorious acts. There self-image grew and grew until they thought that they were the most important and powerful men in the land.
c. When the disciples following grew the Sadducees didn’t like it They were the one’s who deserved the people respect and adoration not these uneducated men.
d. When we become jealous we grab onto the false sense of self-worth. We become defensive and try to make sure everyone knows how right we are and wrong they are.
e. When we become jealous we think that the son revolves around us – we are the center of the universe.
D. By looking at those examples we can see that jealousy is not God’s plan for his followers. How should we act? How can we live jealous for Christ?
1. Live a life of peace.
a. As in chapter four, the disciples were jailed for their boldness to speak about Christ. And both times they didn’t put up a fight.
b. They sincerely took the command to “turn the other cheek” to heart.
c. They understood that if they were to be followers of Christ and if the news of his resurrection power was to increase then they must be peaceful people. To be violent would only give the Sadducees as well as the Roman officials reason to get rid of them.
d. Did this mean that their lives would be peaceful? Absolutely not! It meant that they were not going to let anger control their actions. It was Christ alone who dictated their life.
2. Live a life of confidence.
a. In the middle of threats, they held onto the purpose that Christ set before them.
b. When they were facing the possibility of persecution they stood firm on the confidence of who Christ is and what he did for them on the cross.
c. That confidence was demonstrated in their resolve. Their motto must be the same as ours: “We must obey God rather then men!”
d. They understood who was in charge! And their confidence came from that conviction.
e. Their confidence came from the conviction Gamaliel spoke about – “For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting with God.”
3. Live a life of humility.
a. To some confidence and humility are contrary. But when we are believers they work hand in hand.
b. Humility before God causes us to be confidant before man.
c. The disciples were humbled by the work of Christ on the cross. It was his love for them that drove him to the suffering and pain and they were privileged and deeply honored to participate in the same suffering.
They were “rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name.”
d. They realized the truth that I share with you every week – When you follow God it is not about you anymore! It is about Christ and his work in us and through us!
A. So what will it be for you, my friend?
1. Will you live in jealousy? Allowing fear, anger, and pride to control your life?
2. Or will you live like the disciples? Allowing peace, confidence and humility to control your life?
There is a fable of an eagle which could out fly another, and the other didn’t like it. The latter saw a sportsman one day, and said to him:
"I wish you would bring down that eagle." The sportsman replied that he would if he only had some feathers to put into the arrow. So the eagle pulled one out of his wing. The arrow was shot, but didn’t quite reach the rival eagle; it was flying too high. The envious eagle pulled out more feathers, and kept pulling them out until he lost so many that he couldn’t fly, and then the sportsman turned around and killed him. My friend, if you are jealous, the only man you can hurt is yourself.
Moody’s Anecdotes, pp. 44-45.