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The Problem of Jealousy in the Church

Let’s talk about a problem in some churches, the problem of jealousy.  Yes, unfortunately, it exists today.  Of course, we are not talking about the type of jealousy that is felt when one’s romantic relationship is threatened. We are talking about the kind that makes us think that another person’s advancement threatens our standing or position in the church.  Instead of fighting our common enemy, the devil, we’re fighting among ourselves because of the green-eyed demon of jealousy.

What exactly is jealousy? Webster defines jealousy as an unhappy or angry feeling of wanting to have what someone else has. Synonyms for jealousy are covetousness, enviousness, the green-eyed monster, envy, and resentment.  The Bible identifies jealousy as something that should be resisted. 1 Corinthians 3:2-3 (KJV) lets us know that the jealous person is a carnal and immature Christian:

2 I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.
3 For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal and walk as men?

We all know that the devil is not our only enemy. As Christians, we also have to fight against the human part of us. The natural man is full of pride. It does not want to see anyone move forward or get ahead of us. But our sincere desire as Christians should be to be what God says that we are to be. We should be content with who God has made us. Jealousy among church members is one of the primary reasons that the church is unable to grow any faster and move forward as it should. The church will only be able to progress by loving, strengthening, and encouraging each other.  If a colony of ants or a hive of bees can work in their designated positions, why can’t we?

Consider a group of children growing up together in the neighborhood in love and harmony. As they begin to mature, a change starts to take place in some of them. One of the young men may suddenly grow taller than the others.   While his friends are around 5′ 9″, he suddenly zooms to 6’4″.   Or, a young lady may have been just another member of her BFFs until the summer that she developed curves that the others did not have yet. The jealousy among her friends might be especially potent if she had less defined curves than all when suddenly her shapeliness exceeded them all.

This could also happen in the church, too.  Let’s say that a young man was born into a particular church and grew up under wonderful men of God who helped to train and encourage him. Then, under circumstances that no one expected, God began to pour out His blessings and anointing upon the young man. Over time, that young man is elevated to be the leader of the entire group that encouraged him. There is the potential that the older men who loved and supported him might suddenly become jealous of that young man, feeling that he had no right to his new status or position. Mature men of God, however, do not succumb to the enemy and allow the green-eyed demon of jealousy to prevail.  Even the peers of the young man might feel jealous because he was once just one of them. But, what we must remember is that God is sovereign. He blesses whomever He chooses to bless. He exalts whomever He decides to promote. Remember, David was thought to be the least of his brothers, but look at how God exalted him.

There is another thought that might help us all to fight the human emotion of jealousy when God moves in the life of a specific individual. Just as the potential to be 6’4″ was in the young man of our previous example when he was born, and just as the potential to be curvy was in the young woman of our case when she was born, so was God’s plan for the young man who became the leader. It was in their packages at birth!   Each child in our scenario is merely fulfilling the destiny that God had for him or her all along.

Let’s relax and let God be God. Instead of allowing the natural desire to be celebrated in the eyes of man, let’s strive to be high in the eyes of God. If God wanted a handsome 4’9″ young man or a young lady who could sew, but not be able to sing a lick when He made you, be who He made you to be.

It is also important to remember our lesson on resisting jealousy when God exalts one from our midst. Just because an individual may be the first to move into their role, it does not make them any more important than one who finds his position later in life. One of the young men of the group mentioned above grew to be 5’9″ first, but was exceeded by his friend who became 6’4”. That’s just life. Let’s all grow into the potential that our sovereign God has set for each of us. It is often said that Jesus was raised from obscurity to be King of Kings and Lord of Lords. In actuality, Jesus was BORN to be KING. It came with the package.

John 18:37 (KJV) Pilate, therefore, said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice

So, when one of our peers moves ahead of us and becomes what we may consider being great, brothers and sisters, let’s not get jealous. That individual is maturing into the person that God meant him or her to be from the beginning. It came with their package. Instead, let’s each of us allow the Holy Spirit to mold us into the perfect image of Jesus Christ, maturing in love and bowing to the perfect Will of God.  

Let us pray:  Dear Heavenly Father, it is our desire to be exactly who you called each of us to be for your glory and honor. Bless each of us to grow to our full stature, and, in so doing, please you Lord.  We reject any spirit of jealousy or pride and claim humility, harmony and peace among our brothers and sisters.  In the Mighty Name of Jesus, we pray, Amen.