The Consequences of Jealousy

A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot. Proverbs 14:30

Envy is a spiritual cancer, destroying a person from the inside out. 

The consequences of jealousy are grave. King Solomon does not mince words as he warns us of this diagnosis with graphic imagery and directs us instead towards a life of health and peace.

Envy harms us. Even if it does nothing to anyone else, it will still destroy the one who envies. It influences our perception of others. It breeds a destructively critical spirit, leading us to view our neighbors with unwarranted suspicion and anger. It leaves us incapable of being happy for others, and it undermines any chance of contentment, for there is always someone else with more for us to feel resentful of. Envy makes the bones rot.

Jealousy can invade swiftly and subtly. Take the apostle Peter, for example. Prior to the crucifixion, he had made a mess of things by denying Christ three times. John records that after His resurrection, Jesus made breakfast for Peter and some other disciples on the beach, and Jesus spoke with Peter, restoring their relationship, reminding him of His call to Peter to follow Him, and tasking him to shepherd and feed His people. If you had asked Peter the day before what his heart most longed for, it would have been this. But when Jesus added that one day Peter would be called to give his life for his Lord, how did Peter respond? By looking at John and saying, “What about this man?” 

Jesus, though, fully aware of the dangers of jealousy, replied, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!” (John 21:22).

How easy it is, even in moments of great advance, for jealousy to infect us and cause us to forget all that Jesus has done for us and given us! How, then, do we find any kind of cure for this spiritual rottenness? 

The last thing that we want to do is the first thing that we need to do: recognize envy for what it is—sin—and bring it into the light of God’s presence through confession. Then, we must prayerfully reject jealousy, moment by moment, asking the Spirit to enable us to reflect on all we have in Christ, until we are gripped not by jealousy but by joy. Those who count their blessings are more able to praise God for the blessings He bestows on others. And a tranquil heart gives life. 

Do not let your envy eat away at you unchecked. In what way does it have a hold on you? Confess it, pray about it, and fight it with gospel truth.

Devotional material is taken from the Truth For Life daily devotional by Alistair Begg, published by The Good Book Company. Used by Truth For Life with permission. Copyright © 2021, The Good Book Company.

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