A spirit of jealousy can linger within a church for decades if left unchecked.
Envy is one of those sins that is easier to define than to confront properly.
One brother who felt justified in accusing another brother of jealousy said that their friendship was never the same again. He had forgotten that there were other witnesses there who felt that he too was afflicted with a spirit of jealousy. Having seen the damage done to one friendship, they didn’t feel inspired to add to the casualties by telling him.
When a man harbours resentment over position, influence, money, or popularity, he becomes destructive. Nothing makes him happier than to see the objects of his disdain fail. And with the aid of a perverse mind twist he counts as just all efforts to undermine their progress.
The Roman governor, Pilate, “was aware that the chief priests had handed Jesus over because of envy” (Mark 15:10). The crowds saw in Jesus the authority of God. The Jewish leaders would not abide competition, so they killed him.
Read Jesus’, Paul’s and Peter’s lists of sins and you will find that envy and jealousy are counted among the worst of them. As much as we may want to downgrade them to ‘petty’ status, they are listed among sins like strife, murder, sexual promiscuity, etc.
You will find envy residing in the best and worst of Christians to one degree or another. It takes a humble heart and an astute mind to locate and extricate hidden jealousies.
But we need not despair. It doesn’t require years of prayer and learning to overcome our jealousies. All that it takes is a spirit of goodwill toward those who are around us. Paul says, “Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another” (Galatians 5:26).
Instead, we must take to heart what Paul says in another place: “Love is not jealous” (1 Corinthians 13:4).