What is Jealousy?

What is jealousy anyway?

Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines jealous as “Hostile toward a rival or one believed to enjoy an advantage.” It also adds that jealousy is “intolerant of rivalry or unfaithfulness,” and “disposed to suspect rivalry or unfaithfulness.”

There are a couple of things to note from that definition: Hostile toward a rival and hostile toward one believed to enjoy an advantage. How do you handle a rival? What if someone comes along and threatens your authority? How do you respond when others around you just seem way more talented, positive and popular? When others have things (not just possessions) that you do not have, how does that make you feel? Does it affect how you view others, how you treat them and how you talk about them?

Yesterday we looked at the fact that jealousy is behind a lot of strife in all kinds of relationships. How was jealousy part of the equation?

  • What did Paul and his companions have that the Jews in Galatia / Thessalonica didn’t? The people, both Jews and Gentiles, were flocking to hear Paul preach the gospel. Many were hanging on every word and begging to hear those same words again the next week (Acts 13,17).
  • What did Jesus have that the Jewish leaders didn’t? Again, it was that the people (from nobility to the harlots) ran to Jesus en masse to hear His teachings, be healed by Him, and to find forgiveness and grace. The Jewish leaders just couldn’t stand it that Jesus had that much popularity (Luke 15:1-2).
  • What did Abel have that Cain didn’t? Abel’s works were righteous, Cain’s works were evil. Cain saw Abel as a rival and a threat, not as a brother and an inspiration to draw closer to God (1 John 3:12).
  • What did Joseph have that his brothers did not have? Joseph was the favorite of their father, Jacob. He enjoyed advantages and privileges that the others did not (Genesis 37).

We’ll develop this more tomorrow, Lord willing, but for now think about this. If jealousy is at the root of a lot of relationship problems, shouldn’t you and I be open to the possibility that we might be jealous of others? We might not want to think of ourselves as jealous people, but God is saying that we are and it is the building block for fights. Let’s get at the root of this problem.

It was because of envy

Wrath is cruel, anger is overwhelming, but who can stand before jealousy?(Proverbs 27:4)

Who can stand before jealousy? Great question. Here are several examples of great strife and pain caused by jealousy and envy.

  • The Roman governor Pilate knew that the Jewish leaders were envious of Jesus and that is why they delivered Jesus up (Matthew 27:18).
  • Joseph’s brothers were jealous of Joseph and sold him into slavery (Acts 7:9).
  • It was because of jealousy that the Jews in Galatia opposed and contradicted everything Paul and Barnabas tried to preach (Acts 13:45).
  • Jealousy led the Jews in Thessalonica to take wicked men and stir up the crowd against Paul and his companions (Acts 17:5).

James wrote in his letter that if we see disorder and every vile practice, we will find jealousy behind it.

But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.
(James 3:14-16)

Family problems? Jealousy is somewhere close. Church problems? Look for jealousy. Problems at work. Envy is at work.

What is jealousy anyway? What is envy? Let’s look that tomorrow. If jealousy is such a source of strife, we ought to find out what it is, and how we can replace it in our hearts with godly qualities.

Introduce Me to Jesus

If I didn’t know anything about Jesus, and you came to me, what would you tell me? If you only had a few moments to talk to me about the most important things about Jesus what would you share?

A lot of us have made teaching the gospel too complicated. And sometimes our focus may be too much on the response to the gospel (believe, repent, baptism) instead of first focusing on the “why”? What is the good news of salvation that Jesus brings? What is so special about Jesus? What would you say?

Feel free to reply to this email with your thoughts. I’d love to see them. Below are several passages in Acts where it is stated in various ways that the people reasoned and preached Jesus. Do your own searching and study, too.

Acts 5:42 – And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus.
Acts 8:5 – Philip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed to them the Christ.
Acts 8:35 – Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus.
Acts 9:20 – And immediately he proclaimed Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.”
Acts 9:22 – But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Christ.
Acts 11:20 – But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who on coming to Antioch spoke to the Hellenists also, preaching the Lord Jesus.
Acts 17:2-3 – And Paul went in, as was his custom, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus, whom I proclaim to you, is the Christ.”
Acts 18:28 – for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, showing by the Scriptures that the Christ was Jesus.
Acts 26:22-29 – To this day I have had the help that comes from God, and so I stand here testifying both to small and great, saying nothing but what the prophets and Moses said would come to pass: that the Christ must suffer and that, by being the first to rise from the dead, he would proclaim light both to our people and to the Gentiles.” And as he was saying these things in his defense, Festus said with a loud voice, “Paul, you are out of your mind; your great learning is driving you out of your mind.” But Paul said, “I am not out of my mind, most excellent Festus, but I am speaking true and rational words. For the king knows about these things, and to him I speak boldly. For I am persuaded that none of these things has escaped his notice, for this has not been done in a corner. King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you believe.” And Agrippa said to Paul, “In a short time would you persuade me to be a Christian?” And Paul said, “Whether short or long, I would to God that not only you but also all who hear me this day might become such as I am–except for these chains.”

The Good Shepherd and His Sheep

Below is a video of a shepherd calling his sheep. It is powerful and illustrates what Jesus said in John 10. When the shepherd calls, the sheep come because they know his voice.

I heard once that the true test of leadership is to look around and see if anyone is following you.  That’s a pretty good test. Think about Jesus as the Good Shepherd. He says in John 10 that the shepherd knows the sheep, and that the sheep know the shepherd. When He calls, they come running. They know his voice.  To the sheep, the Shepherd’s voice means that they are running to safety and a rewarding environment. It is safe to run to the Shepherd.

John 10:3,8,14,16,27
To him (the shepherd of the sheep) the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out…All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them…I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me…And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd…My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.

Think about why so many flocked to Jesus during his ministry? Look at Luke 15 and meditate on it. There were many religious leaders in Jesus’ day, but the people weren’t flocking to them. Why? Those leaders were bullies, arrogant, know-it-alls who placed heavy burdens on the people. They were hypocritical, self-indulgent and constantly sat in condescending judgment upon the people. The people knew it wasn’t safe to run to them. But they saw safety, compassion and acceptance in the heart of Jesus. When He called, they came.

Consider your own leadership as a man. Are people running to you or from you? Are you a bully or a loving shepherd? It’s worth your consideration – Do the sheep know your voice? Do they come running when you call?

 

The Good Shepherd and His Sheep

3 Crosses

I saw a thought this weekend about the three crosses when Jesus was crucified. The Bible tells us that when Jesus was crucified, He was placed in between two criminals. All three were being executed. All three were dying. During that horrible afternoon, both of those criminals mocked Jesus. Somewhere near the end of their lives, one of those criminals repented and begged in faith for Jesus’ mercy. One of those criminals never repented (as far as we know).

Matthew 27:38,44 – Then two robbers were crucified with him, one on the right and one on the left…And the robbers who were crucified with him also reviled him in the same way.

Luke 23:39-43 – One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

So what do you have? You have one man, Jesus, who was dying on behalf of sin, the sins of the world. Another man, the unrepentant criminal, was dying in his sin. The other thief who repented was dying to his sin.

What about you and me? We can’t die for sin like Jesus did. Only Jesus could die for the sins of the world. But I have two choices: am I going to die in my sins, or am I going to die to my sins?

1 Peter 2:24-25 – He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23

I’m reading a great book right now by W. Phillip Keller called A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23. It was recommended to me by a man who has served as a shepherd in the church. The author lived the life as a shepherd, a real shepherd, and he knows all about sheep. His brings his real-life experience as a shepherd to write about the 23rd Psalm. It is a powerful read.

I believe it is good for us as men to read this book for two reasons:

  1. We can draw closer to Jesus Christ as our Shepherd when we read the perspectives on shepherds and sheep.
  2. We can learn more about what it means to be a shepherd of people. God used this “shepherding” concept throughout the Bible to illustrate what God is looking for in those who would lead His children.

Here is the link to Amazon where you can buy this book. I have the paperback copy, but I really like the audio version!

A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 by W. Phillip Keller

Psalms 23:1-6
(1) A Psalm of David. The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
(2) He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.
(3) He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
(4) Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
(5) You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
(6) Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

Are You Mephibosheth or Absalom?

Two men sat at David’s table. One was a son of David, and his name was Absalom. The other was a crippled son of Jonathan, Mephibosheth, who was brought there  because of grace and the covenant David had with Jonathan (see 1 Samuel 20:12-17; 2 Samuel 9). Usually when kings took the throne and started a new dynasty, they killed all the previous king’s family. But Mephibosheth was spared and given a place at the king’s table where he would continually be there as one of the king’s own sons.

You can see the difference in mentality between Absalom and Mephibosheth.

Absalom:

  • No blemishes, good-looking (2 Sam. 14:25,26).
  • Natural born son of the King (2 Sam. 3:3).
  • No appreciation (2 Sam. 16:21,22; 17:1-4).
  • Arrogant, spoiled (brat), who charmed or manipulated his way through life (2 Sam. 13:22-29; 14:29,30; 15:3-6).
  • Tried to steal the throne (15:10-15).
  • The thing in which Absalom gloried eventually became his downfall.

Mephibosheth:

  • Lame in both feet (2 Sam. 9:13).
  • Outsider, grandson of Saul; deserved to die (2 Sam. 19:28).
  • Very appreciative (2 Sam. 9:8).
  • Humble, servant to David (2 Sam. 9:6).
  • Honored the throne of King David (2 Sam. 19:24).

This attitude of Absalom is seen everywhere in life. In sports, politics, in business, in the home, and in the church. We don’t want to be Absalom’s, walking through life entitled and spoiled, do we? We want to live out our lives like Mephibosheth, where we have overwhelming gratitude for the blessings given to us that we did not deserve. And out of that gratitude, we humbly serve God and others. Like Mephibosheth was to David, we should be loyal to God’s throne because of the fact that God even allows us to sit at his table as one of His sons!

What Jesus Got Angry About

Today is a continuation of our study from last Thursday and Friday on anger.

Let’s think about this question: When do you see Jesus angry or indignant in the 4 gospel accounts? What we find is a consistent pattern – Jesus was angry when others were being hurt. This is not to say that Jesus never got angry about anything else, but the consistent message from the 4 gospels is Jesus really got upset when others were being oppressed. As Adrian Rogers put it something like this, Jesus was angry when he saw “hard hearts in the face of human hurts.”

God is the defender and father of the helpless and oppressed.

Psalms 68:5-6  Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation. God settles the solitary in a home; he leads out the prisoners to prosperity, but the rebellious dwell in a parched land.

Jesus was angry and sad at their hard hearts in the face of human hurts.

Mark 3:1-6  Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there with a withered hand.  And they watched Jesus, to see whether he would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse him.  And he said to the man with the withered hand, “Come here.” And he said to them, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent. And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. The Pharisees went out and immediately held counsel with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him.

Jesus was “greatly displeased” when His disciples tried to run off the little children.

Mark 10:13-16  Then they brought little children to Him, that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked those who brought them. But when Jesus saw it, He was greatly displeased and said to them, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.” And He took them up in His arms, laid His hands on them, and blessed them.

Jesus was angry at those who “devoured widows’ houses” for their own financial gain.

Mark 12:40  who devour widows’ houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.”

Jesus was angry when the religious leaders became thieves by turning God’s house of worship into a place to take advantage of the poor.

Matthew 21:12-13  And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.”

Jesus was angry when those religious leaders were hypocrites and laid heavy burdens on people, but wouldn’t lift a finger to move those burdens themselves.

Matthew 23:4  They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger.

Let’s meditate on this for today and consider a couple of follow up questions:

Am I angry about the things God is angry about? Or am I angry about personal infractions towards me?

If I am angry about the same things God is angry about, am I dealing with my anger in a way that pleases my God?

Living on Purpose–Glorify God

I would like to share some scriptures with you in thinking about our purpose as Christians for living in this world and the results we should see as we abide in Christ Jesus.  These verses go to who we are, what we should be doing and the result we (and more specifically God) are looking for.

 To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints  (1 Corinthians 1:2; NKJV)

 5 and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth.  To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, 6and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.  (Revelation 1:5-6; NKJV)

16 Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 17 If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.  (1 Corinthians 3:16-17; NKJV)

 19 Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord22 in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.  (Ephesians 2:19-22; NKJV)

9 But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10 who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.

As Christians, we are chosen and we are God’s special people.  If we reflect on who God is and the fact we are His special people, it should generate a response that we can’t help but share with others…to proclaim Him and praise Him.

20 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, 21 to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21; NKJV)

If we live for God in accordance to His purpose and our deliberate determination…He will be glorified and others will see and inquire.  Seeds of truth of the Gospel will be planted and watered and God will be at work for the increase.  Take time today and see who you are in Christ Jesus, thank God for this tremendous blessing and ask for His continued strength and guidance in sharing this awesome blessing with others in how we think, speak and act.  Glorify Him today with a thankful heart that you are His child.

God’s Anger in the Psalms, My Anger in the Proverbs

Today’s MDB is a follow-up of yesterday’s article about fierce anger. My friend, Geoff, sent me a great note reflecting on the “why” of anger, meaning “why am I angry?” He also pointed out that when Jesus was angry, it was mainly because of how others were being hurt, not how He himself was being hurt. At the same time, I was listening to a sermon where the speaker was saying pretty much the same thing about Jesus’ anger. So we are going to dive deeper into the anger of God.

God’s Anger in the Psalms, My Anger in the Proverbs

In preparation for this, I started searching the word “anger” and started looking through the references. It was interesting that in the Psalms, a large majority of the references were in connection to God and His anger. The same search in the book of Proverbs revealed that most of the instances of the word “anger” is connected to man and his anger.

It’s as if God wants us to reflect on His anger first, and then consider our own anger in comparison.

God’s anger in the Psalms

  • Psalms 6:1 O LORD, rebuke me not in your anger, nor discipline me in your wrath.
  • Psalm 30:5For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.
  • Psalm 77:9 – Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has he in anger shut up his compassion?” Selah. (The answer to that is in the Psalm, no…God has not forgotten to be gracious, and no He did not shut up His compassion in the midst of his anger.)
  • Psalm 78:38Yet he, being compassionate, atoned for their iniquity and did not destroy them; he restrained his anger often and did not stir up all his wrath. (You can see in Psalm 78 that God was rightly angry for their sins, see verses 21,31,49,50,58. However all of that “anger” of God was couched in atonement, restraint and compassion).
  • Psalm 85:3 – You withdrew all your wrath; you turned from your hot anger.
  • Psalm 86:15 But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.
  • Psalm 103:8-14The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever. He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.
  • Psalms 106:37-40 – They sacrificed their sons and their daughters to the demons; they poured out innocent blood, the blood of their sons and daughters, whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan, and the land was polluted with blood. Thus they became unclean by their acts, and played the whore in their deeds. Then the anger of the LORD was kindled against his people, and he abhorred his heritage;

So, what have we observed about God’s anger? Here are some things I saw, and I know you all will see others.

  • God’s anger is for a moment, His favor is for a lifetime. Man’s anger is for a lifetime, while our favor is for a moment.
  • God is slow to anger. Man has a hair trigger for his anger.
  • God knows we are but dust. We with our anger blast other people into dust.
  • God’s anger is often focused on how others are treated. Our anger is often focused on how we are treated.
  • In God’s anger, he was compassionate, and did the atoning for our sin. He often restrained His anger/wrath, and refused to keep stirring it up. How about us? Are we seeking for others’ sins to be covered? Do we put a seat belt on our anger, or do we let it loose? Do we keep a “anger spoon” in our hands at all times, stirring the pot of our anger?
  • God does not deal with us according to our sins. He punished us far less than our iniquity deserved. We, on the other hand, are like James and John who want to bring fire down from heaven on the person who cuts in front of us in traffic.

There’s a lot more to consider on this. We’ll continue on Monday, Lord willing, and consider our anger as taught in the Proverbs.

Remember that the “wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” (James 1:19-20).