Wisdom Devotionals

Don't Light the Fuse!

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

James 3:14

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. Jesus was becoming a little too popular in Judea—gaining a little too much prestige among the people. So the Jewish leaders, boiling with envy, devised a plan to kill Him.

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.

 Nathaniel Vincent echoed the words of James when he wrote:

How much of a pit is there in the spirit of an envious man? The happiness of another is his misery; the good of another is his affliction. He looks upon the virtue of another with an evil eye and is as sorry at the praise of another as if that praise were taken away from himself. Envy makes him a hater of his neighbor, and is his own tormentor.

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.

Let me encourage you to come clean before God—to bare it all . . . before the sparks fly.

Prayer Point: If you aren’t struggling with jealousy right now, take time to thank God for all He has given you. Then ask Him to reveal how you can use your gifts to benefit others. If you are in the pit that jealousy has dug, take this time to confess your sinful attitude. John tells us that “God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

Extra Refreshment: Read James 3:13-17.