And there were many in Israel with leprosy in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed—only Naaman the Syrian.” All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. Luke 4:27-28
I may not want something and even turn up my nose at it but at the same time, I don’t want anyone else to have it either. Jealousy has many manifestations.
When Jesus read Isaiah 61 in the synagogue and revealed that He was the fulfillment of the prophecy, the Jews were furious. They rejected Jesus and though He called them “His people”, they did not call Him ‘their Savior’.
He reminded them that God’s grace had often been sent to the Gentiles, the ones the Jews believed to be spiritually inferior. They knew the stories but their jealousy erupted at the reminder.
Jealousy is not rational. The Pharisee’s teaching was probably lifeless, full of rules and regulations. They were proponents of the law and sticklers for keeping every “i” dotted and “t” crossed. The spirit of their listeners sunk as they increased the heavy yoke on their shoulders. The only ones who enjoyed their company were like-minded legalists. They didn’t want Jesus but they also didn’t want Him to be desired outside of their circles.
Today, a similar jealousy can be among us. Those who have been the spiritual fathers of a certain church can come to see the church as ‘their church.’ But when the move of the Spirit is quenched by familiarity and tradition, God takes the fire and zeal to a new generation.
Those who look, dress, and worship differently suddenly occupy their seats, once considered to be reserved for pillar families in the congregation who had claimed them as their own spot Sunday after Sunday. There can be an indignant and unrighteous response, believing that God has done wrongly in extending the Gospel to an untamed and undeserving crowd. God uses jealousy to stir up the pot and allow the impurities to come to the surface.
To personalize: Am I rejoicing over the ways the Gospel changes all lives? Am I grateful for the favor God puts upon others if I am in a wilderness? Can I express my joy over the providence of God and trust His sovereignty? If any twinges of jealousy stir in me as I read or write this, I have an issue with God and He invites conversation in prayer.
Bless my enemies and help me mean it in all seasons of my life. Amen