We all have seeds of jealousy and envy in us. The question is, who among us will acknowledge it?
A Puritan preacher named Thomas Manton said of the human penchant for envy and jealousy: “We are born with this Adamic sin. We drink it in with our mother’s milk.” It is that deeply a part of us.
Such sinful seeds keep us from rejoicing in the blessings and accomplishments of others’ ministries or works. Their effect is to erect powerful walls between us and our brothers and sisters: “Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous; but who is able to stand before envy?” (Proverbs 27:4).
James adds to this, “If ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth” (James 3:14).
In plain terms, this sin of jealousy and envy is a bitter poison. If we hold onto it, it will not only cost us spiritual authority but open us to demonic activity.
King Saul provides the clearest example of this in all of Scripture. In 1 Samuel 18, we find David returning from a battle in which he slaughtered the Philistines. As he and King Saul rode into
Saul was wounded by this joyous celebration, thinking to himself, “They have ascribed unto David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed but thousands: and what can he have more but the kingdom?” (1 Samuel 18:8).
Immediately, Saul was consumed by a spirit of jealousy and envy. In the very next verse, we read the deadly effect it had on him: “Saul eyed [envied] David from that day and forward” (18:9). Tragically, after this, “Saul became David’s enemy continually” (18:29).
Saul had been absolutely deluded by his jealousy. He could not humble himself before the Lord in repentance. Had he recognized his own envy and plucked it from his heart, God would have heaped honors on his anointed servant. But Saul could not bring himself to take the lowest seat. Instead, he was drawn by his envious spirit to the highest. And what happened the next day ought to fill us all with holy fear: “…and Saul was afraid of David, because the Lord was with him, and was departed from Saul” (18:10-12).