All of us have faced some form of jealousy, either by being a recipient or an initiator. If we have entertained jealousy, we rationalize it as only a fleeting thought that has no notable affect on us. If we express jealousy, it is justified as a momentary lapse of judgment. The problem is our conscience betrays our simplifying of the issue. We can try to fool ourselves into believing our feelings are just a childish reaction, but our conscience overrules that notion and reveals a more deep seated problem. The word Jealousy is sometimes used interchangeably with the word Envy. Jealousy can contain both a positive and negative connotation. Simply put Jealousy is to emulate or covet earnestly what another displays. We don’t like to admit it, but there is a tendency in all of us to compare ourself with another, and this is bound to generate a stop gap in our spiritual lives. Whenever we see someone exemplifying success beyond our achievements, there is an emotional reaction to nullify their works by centering on any of their possible negative areas. Instead of being motivated to improve on the neglected areas in our lives, we attempt to expose the shortcomings in the “overachievers.”
We see in so many Believers a guilt complex that is used to lash out on others. We all know the importance of staying focused. We know the importance of studying the Bible. We know the importance of spending premium time in prayer. We know the importance of sharing the Truth, YET there are times we neglect to follow through with the intents of our heart. When we witness the spiritual growth in others, it is sometime like a thorn in our side, for their progress is like a mirror that reflects our true condition. We don’t like to be compared with anybody, but God has “ways and means” to get our attention. The positive purpose of jealousy is to bring us to the point of desiring to be all that God wants us to be. When we see a brother or sister living a triumphant life, there should be a desire in us to emulate their spiritual walk. It should cause us to regroup and rearrange our priorities so we, too, can experience the benefits of Kingdom living. When we see someone walking in victory, we should be drawn to the same objective. One of the reasons the Gentiles were adopted into God’s family was to entice the Jews to jealousy. (Romans 11:11) By seeing what they were missing, they might rethink their theological beliefs.
Whatever God intends for good, Satan will try to use it for his good. Jealousy can be used as a positive or a negative. How it is implemented depends on our spiritual status; if we are lacking in our spiritual growth, Satan will use it as a tool of division. If we are practicing our faith, God will use it as a tool of spiritual development. Believers are not all on the same road, but I pray we all have the same destination. God loves us and will use whatever means we can understand to keep us focused.
When we see other Believers sold out for the Lord, we should all have a desire to pick up our pace as we pursue the Kingdom. When we see others growing by leaps and bounds, it should rekindle our fire. Positive jealousy brings a renewed strength to our lives. Negative jealousy saps our strength. Instead of finding fault in others, we need to examine ourselves. When we neglect our own spiritual life, we will be susceptible to negative jealousy which looks for the speck in another’s eye, while rationalizing the beam in our own eye.
Are people drawing us to positive jealousy, where we desire to be better Christians? Or are we envious of other Believers to the degree that we hope they will fail, which then will minimize our own failures?