Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: It's impossible to be thankful and feel jealous at the same time

Have you ever wanted something that was not yours? Have you ever wanted what someone else had so much that you wished that they didn't have it? Or because they have what you don't, you get consumed with the idea, and it's all you can think about, and the more you think about what they have and what you don't, you become more and more bitter?

I was a member of a facebook group of ministers months ago. Most of the posts and comments were about theological stuff, though some would look for advice, others would comment on what their churches were doing. One day someone posted a comment about salaries and benefit packages. I became aware through the comments as I followed this post that many of these guys were receiving a lot more than I do. I thought initially that most of these guys worked for larger churches so they could pay more, but, it became obvious that several of them were working for churches smaller than this one. I wish I could tell you that I just shrugged it off but I didn't. Instead I spent all afternoon consumed with these questions, "How come I don't have a retirement contribution, or enhanced health benefits, why don't I have a professional expense?" I was jealous.

One thing that happens when I am jealous, when I'm in the act of this sin, is that I refuse to consider the blessings that God has provided. I don't count my blessings when I'm jealous. I removed myself from that facebook group not because those who were posting were doing anything wrong, but, because I recognized that I was being consumed with jealousy. When I consider my blessings I realize how much I have. I realize how good God is to me and my family. It's impossible to praise God for His gifts and His goodness when I'm jealous.

Have you been jealous? Jealous of what someone else has, jealous of their gifts or abilities, their relationships, or maybe even their Spirituality? I wonder sometimes if we don't spend enough time concerned about jealousy. Maybe we're more aware of a lust problem. Or we're aware of our anger problem. Our lying or cheating problem. We are aware that we sin. But when was the last time you really thought about jealousy and the damage this sin is doing in your life.

A lot of sinful stuff can come from jealousy. According to an article I read in the Los Angeles Times the author said, "Jealousy is possibly the most destructive emotion housed in the human brain. It's the leading cause of spousal murder worldwide, according to analyses I did of data over the last century. And, statistics show, it's the leading drive behind the killing of "mate poachers" -- interlopers who attempt to lure away our partners."

Jealousy has been around as long as people have. Genesis 4:1-12 picks up the story of Adam and Eve after they were kicked out of the Garden of Eden for disobeying God. Adam and Eve have a couple of boys named Cain and Abel. Cain grew up to be a farmer and Abel became a shepherd. Most of us have heard the story of how Cain sacrificed some of the food from his harvest and Abel sacrificed a lamb and that God was pleased with Abel's sacrifice but not with Cain's. It's vital to note why God was not pleased with Cain's sacrifice. It had nothing to do with what Cain brought; it was his attitude.

Moses tells us in Genesis that Cain brought some food from his harvest while Abel brought the best of his flocks. Hebrews 11:4 says Abel had faith and his sacrifice showed that he was a righteous person. Cain apparently didn't care much for God stuff. He was the kid who went to church because he had to. He offered some fruit and vegetables he dug up from the garden a few minutes before he had to go to church. He didn't give much thought to the sacrifice. He didn't care to bring the best that he had. He kept that for himself and he gave God the leftovers. The fact that Cain had a bad attitude with all things about God is evident in the act of murdering his brother.

Jealousy when we allow it to take root in our heart can cause all kinds of problems, like feeling bitter, stressed, and angry. Jealousy can lead us to steal, gossip and hurt someone, jealousy can even lead to murder. Jealousy is what led Cain to murder his own brother. Cain was jealous that God blessed Abel's sacrifice. Jealousy led to anger and anger led to murder. Cain allowed this progression to take place in his heart because he refused to live for God. He wanted God to bless him on his terms and God doesn't do that.

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