but who can stand before jealousy?
The "green-eyed monster" has certainly caused a lot of trouble, throughout history, hasn't it? Even in the scriptures, we see instances when the issue of jealousy or envy has been the start of something . . .
Cain envied Abel because his sacrifice was accepted in Genesis chapter 4. Sarah envied Hagar when she could conceive and bear a child and she could not (Genesis 16). We read the dramatic story of Korah and others in the camp, who envied Moses and Aaron, and were punished for that in Numbers 16. Remember a few days ago, when we looked at the story of Joseph? His brothers were bitten hard by the monster, and sold him to traveling merchants -- then went back and told an old man that his beloved son had been mauled and killed by wild beasts.
In the New Testament we read that the Jewish leadership was envious of the crowds who wanted to hear Paul's message, in Acts 13:45:
45 When the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy. They began to contradict what Paul was saying and heaped abuse on him.
All of these (with the exception of the New Testament reference, of course) were familiar to Solomon, and with his fantastic wealth and the blessings that God had bestowed upon him, he was probably well-acquainted with the issues of jealousy and envy. There were probably people in his court who showed signs of the green-eyed monster each and every day!
We may downplay jealousy and think that it's not a big deal --- oh, but it is! The earthly consequences of jealousy are strife, spitefulness, and even violence. Envy can cause barriers to be erected between people, and it can so dominate a person's heart that he or she feels it is impossible to function properly in everyday life.
Even more important to discuss are the eternal consequences of envy: Satan is thrilled for people to be jealous of each other. Why? Let's look at Galatians chapter 5 for the answer:
"Let us not be . . . envying one another" ( 5:26 )
First, to envy others is a violation of God’s will, for Paul has told us here that we should not give in, and we should not tolerate it in our walk with God.
This should give us pause to think -- look at verses 19 and following:
19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Satan knows that envy is a barrier to fellowship with God. It's not to be taken lightly; it's not just a booboo; it's a big deal.
What can we do to avoid and overcome jealousy? Peter tells us that it is a problem that can be laid aside -- there's hope --- we can deal with this, with God's help!
"Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings . . ." (I Peter 2:1)We can be determined to have a happy outlook, rather than resenting others:
"Rejoice always..." (I Thessalonians 5:16)And we can be grateful for what we have, instead of focusing on what we don't have:
"give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." (I Thessalonians 5:18)If we will strive to be content with what we have, and use all that we have to glorify our Father, then it will be easy to pray for others, and with our prayerful support they will use their blessings to glorify Him as well. All of us, using what He has placed in our hands for Him, can surely change people, and this world, for the better.