A tranquil heart is life to the body,Proverbs 14:30
but jealousy is rottenness to the bones.
There is a tragic story in the book of 1 Samuel describing the first king of Israel, named Saul. Saul had been empowered for his role as king by the very Spirit of God (10:10). Saul wasn't just someone who was a head and shoulders taller than everyone else. God had anointed him as king. And yet, several poor decisions along the way in Saul's 42 year reign proved that maybe his heart wasn't as all in as it might have appeared. In fact, some of those decisions were deliberate disobedience against the Lord.
As a result, the Lord told Saul that the kingdom was going to be handed off to someone else who would obey. It didn't take Saul long to uncover who that someone else might be. It was a young man right under his nose, serving in his military – a former shepherd named David.
The story isn't great so far, but when you get to chapter 18, we're given a window into to Saul's internal downward spiral. David was a successful military leader, even outpacing the king himself in popularity. Naturally, that would make anyone who is emotionally unhealthy do things they wouldn't normally do. "So Saul watched David jealously from that day forward" (18:9). Not many verses later, that jealousy turned to a murderous rage, with Saul making multiple attempts on David's life (18:11, 17, 21, 25), and when those attempts proved unsuccessful, the final statement is made:
And he became even more afraid of David. As a result, Saul was David's enemy from then on.1 Samuel 18:28-29
What about YOU? Who are you envious of? What other person's spiritual gifts or role in the church do you wish you had? Whose house do you admire and try to emulate? Whose marriage, whose kids, whose job do you wish you had? What lifestyle do you wish you had?
It's one thing to see something and be inspired. But as Proverbs warns, and King Saul displays, jealousy is rottenness to the bones. It doesn't bring life. There is no happy ending to jealousy, even if you get what you want – because a jealous heart is never satisfied. It's only in Christ we can ever be fully satisfied.
Jesus came to earth to lay down his life for those of us who have struggled with envy. He went to the cross in weakness and sorrow, and he took on the ugliness of jealousy there on the cross, suffering in his own body the death that jealousy and envy lead to – eternity under the wrath of God. Now, by his grace, Jesus offers us repentance, forgiveness, and empowers us with the Spirit of God to kill our sin and grow in grace.
If you see envy or jealousy in your life today – pull it out by the roots (repent) and lean into God's grace. Humility and contentment are the fruit you're looking for.