Today’s Reading: Acts 13:16-41 (additional reading: Psalm 138:1-8 & Proverbs 17:17)
There is a fable of an eagle which could out fly another, and the other didn’t like it. The latter saw a hunter one day, and said to him: “I wish you would bring down that eagle.” The hunter replied that he would if he only had some feathers to put into the arrow. So the eagle pulled one out of his wing. The arrow was shot, but didn’t quite reach the rival eagle; it was flying too high. The envious eagle pulled out more feathers, and kept pulling them out until he lost so many that he couldn’t fly, and then the hunter turned around and killed him. My friend, if you are jealous, the only man you can hurt is yourself.
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 misconception 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. We need to ask the Lord to help us replace any jealous feelings with a trust in the Lord’s ability to do what is best in His own sovereign way.
Thomas Lindberg said that “One sign of jealousy is when it’s easier to show sympathy and “weep with those who weep” than it is to exhibit joy and “rejoice with those who rejoice.”
There is a distinction between jealousy and envy. To envy is to want something which belongs to another person. “You shall not covet your neighbour’s house, his wife or his servant, his ox or donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbour.” In contrast, jealousy is the fear that something which we possess will be taken away by another person. Although jealousy can apply to our jobs, our possessions, or our reputations, the word more often refers to anxiety which comes when we are afraid that the affections of a loved one might be lost to a rival. We fear that our mates, or perhaps our children, will be lured away by some other person who, when compared to us, seems to be more attractive, capable and successful.
This caused the Jews to be concentrated more on what they were opposed to than what they favoured. They committed themselves to opposing the teaching of Paul and even trying to contradict him to a point of blasphemy. We should be careful of not over-reacting to situations, but to concentrate more on God;s goals than on what you do not like.