If you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth.
Jealousy is a dangerous weapon. Like an explosive tucked into the corner of the soul, it waits for some incendiary word or action to detonate it. Jealousy set off the first recorded murder in human history. Cain couldn’t stand the fact that God liked Abel’s sacrifice more than his, so he killed his brother because of it. Jealousy triggered Joseph’s suffering as a young man when he was sold by his brothers into slavery because they were tired of watching their father show more favor to him. It incited Persian politicians to manipulate King Darius into ordering Daniel’s death in the lion’s den. Jealousy lit the fuse in the hearts of the Pharisees who handed Christ over to Pilate. Mark’s Gospel informs us that Pilate was aware that the chief priest surrendered Christ to him because of envy.
Do Christians today struggle with this time bomb? Yes. Are churches envying other churches’ attendance records and outreach events? Yes. Are Christian artists jealous that others are more popular or more talented? Yes. Will anyone admit it? Probably not.
That’s why James warns believers not to be arrogant and lie regarding the truth. In other words, admit it. Don’t try to get around the dynamite sticks hidden in the darkness of your heart when they are revealed by the light of Truth. James goes on to write, “For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing” (James 3:16). That’s a nice way of saying we should watch out for explosions that will rip and damage every life touched by jealousy and selfishness.
What about you? Are you looking at someone else’s health or job or personality or spouse or family or money or leisure, and seething with jealousy? Only when you have truly confessed your discontentment with Christ’s sovereign plan—which is at the heart of jealousy and envy—will the Lord refresh your heart. You’ll gain peace and satisfaction in what He has chosen for your life.