14 He said, I have been very jealous for the Lord God of hosts, because the Israelites have forsaken Your covenant, thrown down Your altars, and slain Your prophets with the sword. And I, I only, am left, and they seek my life, to destroy it. Ė 1 Kings 19:14 AMP
Jealousy is itself an emotion that can bring out the worst in people and the Bible speaks of it in several ways. It can lead to intense anger (Proverbs 27:4). It can lead to envy and strife (Genesis 30:1). It can lead to verbal abuse and slander (Acts 13:45). It can even lead to plots of murder (Genesis 37:11-20). Such passages in Scripture should be a great learning tool for all Christians, but many times they are just stories that are just read on Sunday and never applied to life.
The fact is that our society seems to be overrun with jealousy. It has even spread among the Christian faith. Churches are sometimes jealous of other churches because their sanctuary sits more people. Church members are jealous of each other because one has a nicer car or larger home than the other. Some Christians are jealous because anotherís relationship with God seems stronger than theirs. And yes, there are even some believers who are jealous because they donít receive as much attention as the Christian sitting next to them. There seems to be no end at the jealousy running around Christian circles these days.
The apostle Paul gave instructions to get rid of jealousy (Romans 13:13). He told the church at Corinth that when he returned to visit them that he was afraid there would be jealousy inside the church (2 Corinthians 12:20). And he told the Galatian church that jealousy was an obvious practice of the flesh (Galatians 5:20). But wait, this is the same church he told that if anyone belonged to Christ they had crucified their flesh (Galatians 5:24). So, if the flesh of a believer is crucified, why is there still jealousy? The answer is simple. Todayís modern day, happy-go-lucky, feel-good Christian merely knows about God rather than actually knowing Him.
A quick reading of todayís verse chows that Elijah, that great prophet of old, was a jealous man. He confesses it right there in black and white. Even God Himself says that He is a jealous God (Exodus 20:5). Given these two verses and looking through rose colored glasses, those who like to twist Scripture to meet their own ends will undoubtedly make a not so educated conclusion: being jealous is okay. If God is jealous and Elijah was jealous, it must be alright for the rest of us to be jealous, right? Sure it is, but look closer; there are strings attached.
Elijah was jealous for the things of God. Todayís verse comes at the end of a nearly two hundred mile journey by Elijah to Mount Sinai. He had exposed the prophets of Baal for the frauds they were and even killed them in order to fulfill the commands of Mosaic Law. Killing four hundred and fifty people would have left me physically exhausted, especially considering the fact that Elijah had already slaughtered a bull and dressed it by himself immediately prior to annihilating the prophets (1 Kings 18). But he made the journey to Mount Sinai alone, even going forty days without food at one point.
Christians today have to be like Elijah. Elijah didnít want what someone else had. He wasnít jealous because Baal had more followers than God. He wasnít jealous over worldly possessions. He didnít care that some elseís robe or sandals were nicer than his. He just wanted what God wanted. He followed Godís commands. The only thing in his life that he was jealous for was God.
So how do Christians do that today? Elijah didnít have people driving around in nice cars. He didnít have neighbors with shiny new homes. He didnít have to worry about someone getting that latest high tech cell phone on the market before we do. Want to hear the truth? You donít have to worry about any of those things either. All those worries lead to envy and discontent, two attributes Christians possess that are hardly godly. Paul said we are to be content in every situation (Philippians 4:11-12). Now I am by no means saying that we are to be happy with our every situation, because when trials come that would be ludicrous. What Iím saying is that in every circumstance in life, we should never allow jealousy to come into our hearts, unless that jealousy is simply wanting all God has to offer us.
You may also be trying to convince yourself that you are not Elijah. He was a great prophet of God and none of us out there have that calling on our life. We canít sit in the wilderness and led the ravens feed us (1 Kings 17). There are no widows in remote towns ready to die who will feed us (1 Kings 17). But the truth is that God has placed a calling on all of our lives, and we must be willing to listen and obey His voice speaking in our lives at all times.
So be jealous only for the things of God. What does God want? He wants you to want Him and His ways. He doesnít want you to desire what belongs to someone else. He doesnít want you to gossip. He doesnít want you to live in strife and contention. And He sure doesnít want you to be jealous of anything in the world.
Where is your jealousy? Is it only toward God and His ways, or is it toward man and your own ways? Do you want what others have or only what God has? Are you asking God what He wants for your life or seeking to mimic the lives of others? Do you even find yourself arguing with God about your life as you compare it to someone elseís? There is only one jealousy pleasing to God. Get rid of all the jealousy you have directed at others in your life, and only keep that jealousy for all the things of God inside.