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Week of December 1, 2013

"Then the high priest and all his associates, who were members of the party of the Sadducees, were filled with jealousy."  -Acts 5:17

It came between Cain and Abel, between Joseph and his brothers and between Jesus and the high priests—jealousy. It can destroy personal, business and ministry relationships. It is evil. And, yes, it can even produce murder driven by insatiable lust.

Jealous people are not our friends and cannot be trusted.

Proverbs 27:4 tells us, “Anger is cruel, and wrath is like a flood, but jealousy is even more dangerous.” This kind of jealousy is from the Hebrew word qinah, which means rivalry. The Geneva Study Bible notes for this scripture tell us that “the envious are obstinate and cannot be reconciled.” Gills Exposition of the Entire Bible tells us that “envy continues and abides and works insensibly,” even when wrath and anger have ended and even though we may appease the jealous person. I believe that when jealousy endangers a relationship, God can reveal it to us as a means of safeguarding us. He may even cut off that relationship, prune that jealous person out of our lives so that we can continue to grow in Him without the distraction and destruction that jealousy inherently brings. Is there anyone you need to release and entrust to the Lord?

James 3:14-16 tells us, "But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don't cover up the truth with boasting and lying. For jealousy and selfishness are not God's kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic. For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind."

Jealousy is void of grace an “all about me” mindset, self-driven and self-reliant, which is the essence of the enemy. Sadly, when adopted, jealousy blocks us from seeing God’s truth of His abundance for us, and our appetite for more in our own power becomes insatiable, like a predator, a devouring spirit. Wolves are like this. They are driven by fresh blood. The more they taste, the more they desire. An effective method for ranchers to kill wolves is to make popsicles out of lambs blood and razors. The wolves are drawn by the scent of blood; they bite into the razor-popsicle sticking out of the ground, which cuts their mouths; they become more driven by their own blood; so they keep biting until they bleed to death. Sad but true.

There is deception and shame in jealousy. If the enemy can hook us into his lust by lying to us that others are more empowered or better than we, he can cause us to become idolaters. Once hooked, lust to have what they have becomes insatiable, and we may be tempted to lie to cover it up. The vicious cycle of deception and shame then continues.

1 Corinthians 3:3 labels this behavior as worldly: " . . . For since there is jealousy quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men?" The word “jealousy” here refers to contentious rivalry. It is from the Greek word zelós, which means to boil over, to seethe.   Barnes' Notes on the Bible states, "The envy here referred to, was that which arose from the superior advantages and endowments which some claimed or possessed over others. Envy everywhere is a fruitful cause of strife. Most contentions in the church are somehow usually connected with envy."

Fruitful in strife, but fruitless in goodness. Do you know any fruitless people who envy those who move in God’s power and are blessed accordingly? They want God’s power, and they want to be fruitful; but they don’t want to humble and sacrifice themselves to get it. So the paradox that prevails in their lives is a pretense of position, but greater power and strength remains fleeting. Such was the case of the Sadducees.

John 15:2 tells us that God prunes away every branch within us that bears no fruit. Verse 4 tells us that we cannot bear fruit unless we remain in Him. Verse 6 tells us that if we do not remain in Him, we are like a thrown away branch. Do we submit to God? Are we choosing to remain in Him? Many of us have our fire insurance, but are we living God’s principles? Do we love Him enough to follow Him at any cost to us? Or are we half-hearted? Have we donned the garment of salvation but resisted the robe of righteousness (Isaiah 61:10-11)? Are our priorities in right order, according to God? When we survey our heart, is there anyone or anything that we covet?

When we keep our eyes on God, when we know who we are in Christ, how much He loves us, how unique and special we are to Him, we may be less inclined to envy others. I like what Christian neuroscientist Dr. Caroline Leaf says, “Don’t be jealous. God made YOU brilliant! You can do something no one else can do.” Ask the Holy Spirit to show you the uniqueness God especially created within you, and pursue His unique plan for you. Also, if we could see all the circumstances of others’ lives, we would be able to see their struggles, disappointments, hurts, difficult relationships, etc., and, therefore, may be less likely to envy them. Sometimes, we need to remind ourselves of this and simply trust God. After all, only He sees the whole heart and full picture of anyone’s life.

I believe it’s okay to go to God and ask Him, “What about me?” I believe God will even allow people to serve at catalysts in our lives to provoke us to ask this question. I also believe He delights in us when we thank Him for who He is and what He has already done for us. And I believe God extends special favor to those who sincerely live His will in their hearts. I believe He is especially pleased with us when we do this. And He can’t help but pour out His blessings. It is God’s nature of love to do so.

In your heart of hearts, is there anyone you envy? If so, repent and submit to the Lord’s plan for your life. Ask Him to get you where He wants you to be and for you to receive all He has for you. When we fully submit, He will take us to heights we could never go to alone. Have you been the object of envy? Know that God is with you. He will never forsake you. Choose to forgive those who are jealous of you; and keep stepping in righteousness, no matter what. Ask God to bring new friends to you of His choosing. Then receive even more of His blessings.

And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love.
Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.

1 John 4:16
Margaret D. Mitchell

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