Someone recently said something shocking to me: “Your hair looks good like that. You look good no matter how you wear your hair. I bet people hate you.” Now, please don’t think I share this to boast in the compliment. I share this because I was speechless at the words “I bet people hate you.” People hate me because of my hair? Really? Who would come up with such a thing? Surely this isn’t true! No, I don’t think anyone hates me because of my hair. I’ve seen luscious locks worth hating over, and my two inches are not! However, this comment forced me to examine my own heart. Do I have a heart that would hate someone for something so small? Am I capable of such a thing? My quick response was yes! I absolutely have a heart of jealousy. I hate women that don't have to wash their hair everyday! There, I said it and it’s out there. Now I am utterly and completely transparent before you, and I don’t like it one bit!
Regardless, it’s true. I was immediately reminded of my own jealousy toward others in my life. How I’ve been envious of God’s people: His amazing musicians and singers, His incredible teachers, His missionaries, His super wives and moms. How I’ve been envious in the smaller things such as the beauty or physique of a woman, a high paying or high status job, a beautiful house, or the character and abilities of other children, wishing they belonged instead to mine. Do you see how wretched I am?! Rather than view them as what they really are- God’s gifts (1 Cor 12)- and praise God for those gifts in others, I have allowed my heart to fester with anger, greed, envy, and resentment.
I can recall numerous examples of jealousy throughout the scriptures:
· From the beginning of creation, Eve was jealous of God’s ability to know good and evil (Gen 3) and ate of the forbidden fruit.
· Shortly after, Cain became jealous of his brother Abel’s offering and acceptance by God, resulting in his brother’s murder (Gen 4).
· A second murder took place when David, jealous of Uriah’s wife, had Uriah killed in order to take her as his own (2 Sam 11).
· I recall Miriam and Aaron rallying together and speaking against the leadership of their brother Moses, conferring that the Lord did not only speak through him, but them as well (Num 12). Their hearts of envy aroused the anger of the Lord leaving Miriam a stricken leper.
· We can’t leave out Joseph’s brothers, selling him as a slave to Ishmaelite travelers because they were jealous of their father’s love and favor toward the chosen brother (Gen 37).
· Possibly the greatest example of jealousy is found in all four of the epistles: the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Jealous of His miracles, jealous of His countless followers, jealous of His prophesied rise to power, Jesus was betrayed and offered up to be crucified.
Now we know that not all jealousy is of the evil one because God is a jealous God (Ex 20:50). We also know that God is not self seeking and the envy I speak of is completely selfish, and demonic (Jas 3:16). So why do I ramble on? Because jealousy is real and it is everywhere, even in our churches, and jealousy births anger, resentment, even murder. Rather than allow jealousy to rule our lives and divide the body of Christ, we must ask God to search our hearts, to reveal to us any wicked jealousy, and lead us in the way everlasting (Ps 139:23-24). Please don’t let something as simple as hair, or God’s gift in a brother or sister stir up jealousy in your heart.
Wrath is cruel and anger a torrent, but who is able to stand before jealousy?