Summary: How to recognize and uproot the main causes of jealousy and envy that ruin relationships

The Roots of Jealousy

(Acts 13:42-52)

Illustration:It is the eyes of other people that ruin us. If all but myself were blind, I should want neither a fine house nor fine furniture.

Benjamin Franklin.

1. Why do you suppose that many people allow jealousy to hinder their relationships, spiritual growth or ministry?

The Jews became infuriated with jealousy toward Paul and Barnabas when they preached that God’s blessings were now available to all Gentiles.

Quickly, the Jews whipped up antagonistic opposition against Paul and Barnabas. Dr. Luke wrote, “When the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy, and began contradicting the things spoken by Paul and were blaspheming.” (Acts 13:45)

Whenever, people become obsessed with jealousy they demonstrate a misperception of the truth. The Jews were careful to guard their own misconceived rights, privileges and status as the only people of God.

Resentful suspicion of the Gentiles and their new influence completely enraged the Jewish leaders. Be careful not to fall into any trap of jealousy or you will lose your perspective of the truth and love of God.

Ask the Lord to help you replace any jealous feelings with a trust in the Lord’s ability to do what is best in His own sovereign way.

Illustration:The parable of the vineyard workers (Matt. 20) offends our sense of fairness. Why should everyone get equal pay for unequal work? Back in Ontario when the apples ripened, Mom would sit all seven of us down, Dad included, with pans and paring knives until the mountain of fruit was reduced to neat rows of filled canning jars. She never bothered keeping track of how many we did, though the younger ones undoubtedly proved more of a nuisance than a help: cut fingers, squabbles over who got which pan, apple core fights. But when the job was done, the reward for everyone was the same: the largest chocolate-dipped cone money could buy. A stickler might argue it wasn’t quite fair since the older ones actually peeled apples. But I can’t remember anyone complaining about it. A family understands it operates under a different set of norms than a courtroom. In fact, when the store ran out of ice cream and my younger brother had to make do with a Pop-sicle, we felt sorry for him despite his lack of productivity (he’d eaten all the apples he’d peeled that day--both of them). God wants all his children to enjoy the complete fullness of eternal life. No true child of God wants it any other way.

Robert De Moor.

2. The Jews failed to realize that Christ always requires changes to bring improvement to His church. The Jewish leaders did not recognize that the synagogue was now inadequate to meet the needs of all the people groups of the world.

The religious authorities did not want to welcome outsiders into their midst. They had grown comfortable with the status quo.

Ask the Lord to help you overcome any resistance to change for the sake of growth.

3. The Jews concentrated more on what they were opposed to than what they favored. They committed themselves to opposing the teaching of Paul and even trying to contradict him to a point of blasphemy. Be careful of not over-reacting to situations.

Ask the Lord to help you to concentrate more on His goals than on what you do not like.

4. The Jews hated the fact that they were exposed for neglecting the free offers given to them in Christ. Spiritual surgery is often painful. Jealousy and envy need to be exposed.

The source of quarrels and conflicts usually come from within the sinful nature of people. (James 4:1-4)

Ask God to help you confess your tendency toward jealousy or envy so you can be cleansed, healed and set on the course of His love and truth.

5. Do not be surprised if even the most respectable people join in wrongful persecution of change agents. Jealousy creates destructive behavior.

The best people of the day were swept up in a wave of jealous retribution. “But the Jews aroused the devout of the city and instigated a persecution against Paul and Barnabas and drove them out of their district.” (Acts 13:50)

Ask the Lord to help you to concentrate on teaching the principles of scripture instead of quarreling with misguided people. Stop comparing yourself with others. (2 Cor. 10:12) It leads to self-destructive envy.

Conclusion:Irish novelist and playwright Samuel Beckett received great recognition for his work--but not every one savored his accomplishments. Beckett’s marriage, in fact, was soured by his wife’s jealousy of his growing fame and success as a writer. One day in 1969 his wife Suzanne answered the telephone, listened for a moment, spoke briefly, and hung up. She then turned to Beckett and with a stricken look whispered, "What a catastrophe!" Was it a devastating personal tragedy? No, she had just learned that Beckett had been awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature!

Today in the Word, February, 1991, p. 15.

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Deborah Baird

commented on Sep 23, 2006

Bro. Fritz, Such an awesome sermon and all very true. I look forward to reading many more of your sermons.

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