Devotional Series from Acts: Steer Clear of Jealousy

A man prays.
A man prays. (photo: Abigail Wu)

On the next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord. When the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy. They began to contradict what Paul was saying and heaped abuse on him. (Acts 13:44-45)

The mission team of Paul and Barnabas came to Antioch in Pisidia. They entered the Jewish synagogue on the Sabbath and the leaders of the synagogue invited them to encourage the crowd. Paul stood up and preached the Word of God. The crowd was attracted by their preaching of the Scriptures, so Paul and Barnabas were invited to preach to them the next Sabbath.

The content of Paul's preaching in the Jewish synagogue was quickly passed on to others who weren’t present. So that on the next Sabbath, almost all the people in the city came to hear Paul’s preaching. But when the Jewish leaders saw so many people coming to hear Paul's preaching, they were full of jealousy because of the attention he was getting. Out of jealousy, they were hostile to Paul, contradicted his words in front of everyone to embarrass him and keep him from speaking. Why did the Jews contradict Paul? After all, their rebuttal was unjustified. What Paul said was correct and could not be refuted, so instead, they slandered him.

Because of their jealousy, the Jewish religious leaders continued to speak ill of Paul. In fact, Jesus also experienced similar incidents among Jewish religious leaders. When Jesus drove out a ghost from a mute body and made him speak, the Pharisees also said Jesus drove out the demon by the prince of demons. (cf. Matt 9: 32-34).

Defamation because of jealousy is also common in today's society. Either you may be jealous of others, have slandered others, or others may be envious of you and have maligned you.

This problem also exists in the church and is a result of people standing in judgement of others. Jealousy causes one to falsely judge others and leads to disunity. Jealousy creates disputes among people and can cause serious divisions in the church.

A lack of unity and condemnation of others among fellow workers in the church is often a result of jealousy. Because gifts are given by the Holy Spirit as he wishes, so some people may have more gifts, and some with fewer gifts will inevitably envy them with a mentality that can be unbalanced. If you have a heart filled with jealousy, you may see those who have obvious gifts and see if you can find some of their faults. Over time you may make judgements against them in an attempt to ruin their reputation.

The Bible refers to jealousy as a sin, and it stems from pride which is the source of many sins. Jealousy is not so simple as a single sin, but it will produce a series of sinful acts, such as defamation, conflict and disunity. If jealousy creates a split in the church, it becomes a sin with even greater consequences.

Therefore, as a Christian, you must not be jealous of others but should learn to appreciate, affirm and encourage others. To keep jealous hearts away from yourself, you can ask God to remove the old self, and constantly shape your life to become more like Christ.

(Note: The author of this article is a co-worker of a grassroots church in Fujian)

- Translated by Abigail Wu

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