ENVY AND JEALOUSYOur God is a jealous God, but He is not envious.
Jealousy and envy are often considered synonymous terms; but they have very different meanings. In II Corinthians 11, the apostle Paul admits to being jealous.
2 Corinthians 11:2.
2 For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present [you as] a chaste virgin to Christ.
Paul was not just jealous; he was jealous with a godly jealousy. That tells us that there is such a thing as a godly jealousy.
In Exodus 34, God descibes Himself as a jealous God.
10 And he said, Behold, I make a covenant: before all thy people I will do marvels, such as have not been done in all the earth, nor in any nation: and all the people among which thou [art] shall see the work of the LORD: for it [is] a terrible thing that I will do with thee.
11 Observe thou that which I command thee this day: behold, I drive out before thee the Amorite, and the Canaanite, and the Hittite, and the Perizzite, and the Hivite, and the Jebusite.
12 Take heed to thyself, lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land whither thou goest, lest it be for a snare in the midst of thee:
13 But ye shall destroy their altars, break their images, and cut down their groves:
14 For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name [is] Jealous, [is] a jealous God:
God doesn’t stop at declaring that He is jealous; He tells us here that His name is jealous. What does this mean? God wants NO OTHER GODS in your life. He wants you to cling to him alone, not run after some other god.
8 Thou shalt not make thee [any] graven image, [or] any likeness [of any thing] that [is] in heaven above, or that [is] in the earth beneath, or that [is] in the waters beneath the earth:
9 Thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God [am] a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth [generation] of them that hate me,
10 And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments.
What is jealousy? Jealousy is a zeal to hold on to what is yours, an unwillingness to let go of that which belongs to you. God insists on holding on to our worship, which rightfully belongs exclusively to Him.
13 Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God, and serve him, and shalt swear by his name.
14 Ye shall not go after other gods, of the gods of the people which [are] round about you;
15 (For the LORD thy God [is] a jealous God among you) lest the anger of the LORD thy God be kindled against thee, and destroy thee from off the face of the earth.
16 Ye shall not tempt the LORD your God, as ye tempted [him] in Massah.
At Massah the Israelites ran out of water. Facing death by thirst, they quickly decided that God had deserted them.
Exodus 17:1-7.1 And all the congregation of the children of Israel journeyed from the wilderness of Sin, after their journeys, according to the commandment of the LORD, and pitched in Rephidim: and [there was] no water for the people to drink.
2 Wherefore the people did chide with Moses, and said, Give us water that we may drink. And Moses said unto them, Why chide ye with me? wherefore do ye tempt the LORD?
3 And the people thirsted there for water; and the people murmured against Moses, and said, Wherefore [is] this [that] thou hast brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our cattle with thirst?
4 And Moses cried unto the LORD, saying, What shall I do unto this people? they be almost ready to stone me.
5 And the LORD said unto Moses, Go on before the people, and take with thee of the elders of Israel; and thy rod, wherewith thou smotest the river, take in thine hand, and go.
6 Behold, I will stand before thee there upon the rock in Horeb; and thou shalt smite the rock, and there shall come water out of it, that the people may drink. And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel.
7 And he called the name of the place Massah, and Meribah, because of the chiding of the children of Israel, and because they tempted the LORD, saying, Is the LORD among us, or not?
When you get it in your head that God has deserted you, you start looking around for someone else to take His place in your life.
16 They provoked him to jealousy with strange [gods], with abominations provoked they him to anger.
58 For they provoked him to anger with their high places, and moved him to jealousy with their graven images.
God wants our devotion and love, wich rightfully belongs to Him alone; He doesn't want us wandering off somewhere else.
II Corinthians 11:1-4. Another Jesus, another spirit, another gospel.
1 Would to God ye could bear with me a little in [my] folly: and indeed bear with me.
2 For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present [you as] a chaste virgin to Christ.
3 But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.
4 For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or [if] ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with [him].
The apostle Paul had a godly jealousy for God’s people in Corinth. He was not jealous in a selfish way; he was not trying to keep the Corinthians loyal to Paul for Paul’s own sake. Rather, he was trying to keep them loyal to the Lord appointed as Head over the church by God: Jesus Christ.
The danger Paul feared was not that these people would leave God or Christ to worship idols. The danger was far more subtle. Paul warned that a Christian can be seduced into following a Jesus that is not the Jesus preached by Paul and revealed to us in the pages of the scriptures; that a Christian can receive a spirit different from the spirit given to him by God; and that a Christian can embrace a gospel different from the gospel preached by Paul and proclaimed in the scriptures.
Godly jealousy is a zeal to keep God’s people faithfully holding on to God, His word, and His son, Jesus Christ.
II Corinthians 11:5-13.
5 For I suppose I was not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles.
6 But though [I be] rude in speech, yet not in knowledge; but we have been throughly made manifest among you in all things.
7 Have I committed an offence in abasing myself that ye might be exalted, because I have preached to you the gospel of God freely?
8 I robbed other churches, taking wages [of them], to do you service.
9 And when I was present with you, and wanted, I was chargeable to no man: for that which was lacking to me the brethren which came from Macedonia supplied: and in all [things] I have kept myself from being burdensome unto you, and [so] will I keep [myself].
10 As the truth of Christ is in me, no man shall stop me of this boasting in the regions of Achaia.
11 Wherefore? because I love you not? God knoweth.
12 But what I do, that I will do, that I may cut off occasion from them which desire occasion; that wherein they glory, they may be found even as we.
13 For such [are] false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.
Where was this hunger for another Jesus, another spirit and another gospel coming from? From false apostles who had infiltrated the Church, but who, instead of teaching the truth of God’s word as revealed in the scriptures, were preaching their own gospel, and by means of this were leading God’s people into infidelity. The danger was not from outside the church, but from within it.
II Corinthians 11:14-16.
14 And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.
15 Therefore [it is] no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.
16 I say again, Let no man think me a fool; if otherwise, yet as a fool receive me, that I may boast myself a little.
The driving force behind these false ministers of the gospel is Satan, who is quite willing to disguise himself as a messenger of God in order to deceive God’s people.
The only defense we have against such an inside attack is knowing what God has revealed to us in His word about Himself, His son, His spirit and His gospel so clearly and so thoroughly that we are able to spot an impostor by its failure to line up with God’s written revelation. To the extent that the we hold on to the written word of God as our standard for truth and examine everything by the light and standard of the scriptures, to that extent we are safe from inside jobs like this. But wherever and whenever we are willing to adopt or receive doctrines and beliefs that conflict with God’s written revelation, we open ourselves up to deception and, ultimately, unfaithfulness.
The scriptures reveal that God is jealous, but not envious. What is the difference?
12 Then Isaac sowed in that land, and received in the same year an hundredfold: and the LORD blessed him.
13 And the man waxed great, and went forward, and grew until he became very great:
14 For he had possession of flocks, and possession of herds, and great store of servants: and the Philistines envied him.
15 For all the wells which his father's servants had digged in the days of Abraham his father, the Philistines had stopped them, and filled them with earth.
16 And Abimelech said unto Isaac, Go from us; for thou art much mightier than we.
Envy is an undue, zealous desire for what someone else has or is. The Philistines in this record envied the great success and possessions of Isaac, who had prospered abundantly. Their envy was evidenced by their stopping up of his wells, and driving him from their presence. God is NEVER described as envious in the scriptures.
The scripture warns again and again against envy.
1 Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity.
God doesn’t want us to be envious of those who are doing wrong.
3 For I was envious at the foolish, [when] I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
God doesn’t want us to envy the success of those who make their way towards the top by doing evil. I won't ask for a show of hands on who has done this!
31 Envy thou not the oppressor, and choose none of his ways.
God does not want us to envy those who succeed by pressuring, crushing, or taking advantage of others. The bottom line is, if you see people prosper by disobeying God, don't follow their example!
We are not to envy the ungodly, of course, but what about those in the church?
I Corinthians 3:3.
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?
In the church at Corinth there were Christians envying Christians. Envying, fighting and divisions within the church are signs of fleshly or worldly thinking. God has not called us to operate that way. We are to walk in love, not in envy.
16 For where envying and strife [is], there [is] confusion and every evil work.
Envy is a sinful attitude that gives birth to sinful actions. Envy leads you to do things contrary to God's will to achieve your goals. Paul identifies envy as one of the works of the flesh.
19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are [these]; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,
20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,
21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told [you] in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
While jealousy can be godly, there is a jealousy that is ungodly. If you engage in envy and ungodly jealousy, it can cost you rewards at the Judgement Seat of Christ.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
24 And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.
25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
26 Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.
Envy and other works of the flesh are contrasted here with the fruit of the spirit. The fruit of the spirit are manifestations of the character of God; the works of the flesh are manifestations of the character of the flesh, and of the world.
But there is another danger that can threaten those who avoid envying others. It is possible for one to enjoy arousing envy in another. The word of God addresses this frame of mind, also. Getting a kick out of being envied, even if you don't envy, is wrong!
(KJV)4 Again, I considered all travail, and every right work, that for this a man is envied of his neighbour. This [is] also vanity and vexation of spirit.(NIV) 4 And I saw that all labor and all achievement spring from man's envy of his neighbor. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.
(NASB) 4 I have seen that every labor and every skill which is done is the result of rivalry between a man and his neighbor. This too is vanity and striving after wind.
If I do great works in order to be envied by others, that's vanity -- it's worthless , meaningless. It's not enough not to envy others; God doesn't want us to endeavor to stir up envy in others.
The way to avoid this trap is to keep our eyes where they belong. We are not to labor to impress men; instead, we are to labor to please God.
On your job, do you do a good job in order to be envied by fellow workers, or are you working heartily so as to please the Lord? Our goal is to do that which is pleasing in the sight of God.
The surest way of doing that which is pleasing to God is by walking in love. If you love with the love of God, you will not boast. And if you love with the love of God, you will not envy.
I Corinthians 13:1-4.
1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become [as] sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
2 And though I have [the gift of] prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.
3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed [the poor], and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
4 Charity suffereth long, [and] is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up.
We have two choices. We can either walk according to what is natural (the flesh), and produce the works of the flesh, or we can walk in the spirit and produce the fruit of the spirit, with God’s kind of love as its signature fruit. If we walk according to the flesh, envy, strife, and every kind of evil work will be evidenced in our lives. But if we walk in the spirit, living our lives in obedience to God’s revealed word, and living to please God rather than to please ourselves or other people, God’s kind of love will be the dominating characteristic of our lives. If you walk in love, you’ll find that you can’t love and envy at the same time.