The Consequences of Jealousy
Envy is a spiritual cancer, destroying a person from the inside out.
The consequences of jealousy are grave. King Solomon does not mince words as he warns us of this diagnosis with graphic imagery and directs us instead towards a life of health and peace.
Envy harms us. Even if it does nothing to anyone else, it will still destroy the one who envies. It influences our perception of others. It breeds a destructively critical spirit, leading us to view our neighbors with unwarranted suspicion and anger. It leaves us incapable of being happy for others, and it undermines any chance of contentment, for there is always someone else with more for us to feel resentful of. Envy makes the bones rot.
Jealousy can invade swiftly and subtly. Take the apostle Peter, for example. Prior to the crucifixion, he had made a mess of things by denying Christ three times. John records that after His resurrection, Jesus made breakfast for Peter and some other disciples on the beach, and Jesus spoke with Peter, restoring their relationship, reminding him of His call to Peter to follow Him, and tasking him to shepherd and feed His people. If you had asked Peter the day before what his heart most longed for, it would have been this. But when Jesus added that one day Peter would be called to give his life for his Lord, how did Peter respond? By looking at John and saying, “What about this man?”
Jesus, though, fully aware of the dangers of jealousy, replied, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!” (John 21:22).
How easy it is, even in moments of great advance, for jealousy to infect us and cause us to forget all that Jesus has done for us and given us! How, then, do we find any kind of cure for this spiritual rottenness?
The last thing that we want to do is the first thing that we need to do: recognize envy for what it is—sin—and bring it into the light of God’s presence through confession. Then, we must prayerfully reject jealousy, moment by moment, asking the Spirit to enable us to reflect on all we have in Christ, until we are gripped not by jealousy but by joy. Those who count their blessings are more able to praise God for the blessings He bestows on others. And a tranquil heart gives life.
Do not let your envy eat away at you unchecked. In what way does it have a hold on you? Confess it, pray about it, and fight it with gospel truth.
How is God calling me to think differently?
How is God reordering my heart’s affections — what I love?
What is God calling me to do as I go about my day today?
Jesus and Peter
15When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. 18Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” 19(This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”
Jesus and the Beloved Apostle
20Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them, the one who also had leaned back against him during the supper and had said, “Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?” 21When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?” 22Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!” 23So the saying spread abroad among the brothers2 that this disciple was not to die; yet Jesus did not say to him that he was not to die, but, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?”
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