Thou shalt not covet...
"Anger is cruel, and wrath is like a flood,
but jealousy is even more dangerous." Proverbs 27:4 (NLT)
At work, if another person gets noticed, gets a raise, or gets attention for something they deserve, do you think to yourself, "I should have that. I work harder than he or she does. They should notice me more." or "I deserve that kind of attention."? When a friend gets a makeover, do you tend to think to yourself, "I should get a makeover too" out of jealousy at how she looks? When a woman has a baby, instead of being supremely happy about it for her, do you instead think, "That should be me. I've been waiting longer", or "I would be a better mother", or such.? If a family member or friend is receiving a lot of attention, does it bother you? If a man at work receives a reword for a job well done, do you think, "Why all the attention?" If you are a youth, do you get mad at someone just because they are more popular, better looking, or smarter than you are? Do you find yourself wishing you were rich, because you believe rich people or a rich friend have it better than you do? If you said "yes" to any of these questions, you probably are a jealous person. Jealous thoughts come to your mind. You might be envious of someone else or wish to be someone else. Even among the famous Ten Commandments is the command, "Thou shalt not covet." (Exodus 20) To covet, means to want something so badly, you don't care who you have to hurt to get it. Jealous or envious people often will break this commandment.
If you are a jealous person or envious of what others have, you are automatically at a disadvantage. You are going to constantly be looking at others and comparing yourself to them. You won't be happy with who you are. You will be insecure. Your view of yourself will be less than it should be. And , you'll never be content with what you have, how you look, how much money you have, or who you are. People who are jealous often end up hurting those they are closest to, their friends, their spouse, their children, their co-workers. It may seem like you can't please a person who is jealous, when in fact you can't even compete with them. They are so insecure of themselves that they will never be contentedly happy.
Take for example, the scripture from Numbers 21. Here, in this book, we have the people of Israel in the wilderness wandering toward the promised land that God wants to give them. As they go through this difficult land, God is always with them. Often, God will come into the tent where the famous Ten Commandments are kept. Sometimes, the people would see God present in a pillar of fire watching over them at night. Sometimes, a cloud would hover over the people, and God was in that cloud. Moses often spoke with God, and God always listened to Moses. Many people had great respect for Moses. Some were jealous of him. In this scripture, you will see that two people who were jealous of Moses were his brother Aaron and his sister Miriam.
Before I go on, I want to say that many brothers and sisters grow up jealous. Sometimes, children may think or know that mom or dad prefers one child over another. Sometimes, its because one child is especially gifted that the others are jealous. Sometimes, mom and dad try to get the kids jealous… believe it or not some parents think the kids will try to achieve more. This is not true. Actually the kids will be less content in life.
Jerry and John were born 15 months apart. They were always competing against each other. If one were good at softball, the other would get good at hardball. If one had a date at school, the other would find a date no matter what. Everyone thought the two were good kids, and great at sports, but they didn't see that they were too competitive, too concerned about what the other had or won or what rewards were given. During his senior year of high school, Jerry started dating Nancy. When Nancy and Jerry had a fight, John swept in and started dating Nancy. Jerry was furious. Many fights ensued. Some say that John married Nancy just to show Jerry he was better. But, everyone knew that John and Jerry became enemies because of that girl and jealousy over her grew between them.
For years, Jerry would make fun of his brother, picking on him. It even spilled over to Nancy. Jerry would tell her that he was glad he "got rid of her" when he did. When they were at a family gathering, sometimes John would cling to Nancy, or try to show her off. Finally, Nancy had enough. She threatened divorce. John was very hurt. Jerry loved it.
Now, right there, you'd think something was seriously wrong. Jerry was happy that his brother's marriage was on the rocks. Jerry liked to see his brother suffer. Jealousy and envy had brought Jerry to the point of loving to see his brother suffering, and Jerry didn’t' even see how cruel he was in his heart. Sin had set in. The two brothers never were very close after that. In fact, John looked for and got a job far away from home. He and Nancy patched things up, but John and Jerry were never close again. Jealousy had wrecked their relationship, their family, their faith.
In the case of Moses, Jealousy reared its ugly head. Aaron and Miriam, Moses' brother and sister began to say discouraging things about Moses. They didn't like his wife. They began to say negative things against Moses to others and to undermine his leadership. Though the scripture doesn't tell us why they didn’t' like Moses' wife, we have three distinct possibilities. First, the scripture says she was Cushite, and that means Ethiopian. That may have meant she was black. Maybe they were racist and didn't like her because she was of a different skin color. Or maybe they didn't like this wife, because she was Moses' second wife. His first wife probably died by this point, and they didn't like the new wife. How often does this happen in real life that a man or woman remarries and the family has a hard time accepting the new spouse? Finally, they might not have liked her because they didn't like her personality, her looks, or her traits. All we do know is there were problems, but then the truth came out. Both were jealous of Moses. It wasn't even about the wife, it was about the jealousy and envy growing in the hearts of Moses' siblings.
The scripture says that the Aaron and Miriam had this to say against Moses…"Has the Lord spoken only through Moses? Has he not spoken through us also?" This sounds like pure jealousy. They didn't like it that Moses was revered. When people looked at Moses, they were in awe. Moses and Aaron were jealous of Moses' power and relationship with God. They wanted some of this for themselves.
The Bible here then tells us that Aaron and Miriam had no reason to challenge Moses. Moses, it says here, was humble. He had not done anything wrong. But that's the danger of jealousy. You can do nothing wrong and people will be so jealous of you, they will hate you, say terrible things about you, or fight against you. It happens in Hollywood all the time. But should it happen to people who know God? Never. And that's why in the scripture here, God became angry. The Lord called all three to the tent of meeting. God came down in a cloud and called Aaron and Miriam out. God defended Moses. And the scripture says God was "angry" at the two. Miriam immediately was diseased. Aaron was upset to see his sister suffer so. Then, Aaron replied, "do not punish us for a sin we so foolishly committed."
Now, jealousy is surely a sin as Aaron says here. It is such a divisive thing that Aaron knew it had to be sinful. He knew that jealousy made him speak negative things against Moses. Aaron knew that it had caused God's anger and Miriam's suffering. Aaron begged for forgiveness. And Moses, being a good man, asked God to heal her. But, God waited seven days to heal Miriam. God wanted her and Aaron to learn a valuable lesson. Jealousy has no place in the family of God. And God will nail you hard if your jealousy causes you to sin.
In many social groups, we have seen jealousy rear its ugly head at times. In every church this happens. People don't like the power a person has, and will attack that person. People don't like someone because of how much money that person has, or the position in the church that person has, and they will try to push others against them. God will not stand for it. It doesn't belong in the Christian heart… and it hurts those who have done nothing wrong.
Consider today if jealousy drives you. Who are you jealous of? Why? Don't be so insecure in yourself to let this jealousy turn to sin. Maybe if you are the jealous type, you might find God not listening to you until you rid yourself of this deadly vice. It might be that jealousy has kept you from happiness, from being content, or from being a better person. Let me be honest.. . others can see your jealousy… God can see your jealousy. I pray you see any jealousy you have and rid your heart of it completely. God has no sympathy for the jealous. He has all kinds of sympathy for those who are humble and right before Him.
Some of my meditations are about salvation. Others are about the character of God, or the nature of faith. Today, this study has been about a sin all too common in our world. It is a sin that will cause you to think you have bigger britches than you really do. It is a sin that can kill any soul and any church. Are you jealous? Are you envious of what things another person has? Are you willing to sacrifice your soul to look better to others? I want to protect you from Satan's ploy. Don't be caught jealous…. Ever.