Work of the flesh – ‘Envy’

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Proverb 27:4 says, ‘Wrath is cruel and anger a torrent, but who is able to stand before jealousy?’ The Hebrew word qanah can mean envious but it is most often translated “jealous.” Envy means “to bear a grudge towards someone due to COVETING what that person has or enjoys.” In a milder sense, it means “the longing for something someone else has without any ill will intended toward that person.” And jealousy is the emotion related to fear that something you have will be taken away by someone else. In Galatians 5:19 to 21, jealousy & envy are in the list of works of the flesh. Paul says that works of the flesh are evident which means it is visible, obvious, noticeable, and clear. When any person is keeping any jealousy or envy in his/her heart, it is visible and observable, i.e. you can make out clearly/ easily.

There are few examples in Bible where, men of God became prey of envy.

 Abel was killed by his own brother Cain out of jealousy because the Lord respected Abel and his offering, but He did not respect Cain and his offering. Genesis 4:5

Daniel was thrown into the lions’ den by evil scheme of two governors & 120 satraps because Daniel was a distinguished person among the governors and the satraps because he was having exceptional qualities and King Darius planned to set him over the whole kingdom.

David a mighty and great King of Israel was hiding and running from Saul for years because of Saul’s jealousy. One day, when David was returning from the slaughter of the Philistine, the women had come out of all the cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet King Saul, with tambourines, with joy, and with musical instruments. The women sang as they danced, and said: “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands.” Then Saul was very angry, and the saying displeased him; and he said, “They have ascribed to David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed only thousands. Now what more can he have but the kingdom?” So Saul eyed David FROM THAT DAY FORWARD.  And David behaved wisely in all his ways, and the Lord was with him. Therefore, when Saul saw that he behaved very wisely, he was afraid of him. (1 Samuel 18: 6 to 9, 14, 15)

Jesus: Even our Lord & Saviour Jesus Christ was handed over to Pilate by chief priest & Pharisees to crucify because of envy. (Mathew 27:18).

As per the above Proverb, it is true that, who is able to stand before jealousy?

But on the contrary, we can learn from the response of a very humble man Moses, when two men Eldad & Medad had remained in the camp. And the Spirit rested upon them. Now they were among those listed, but who had not gone out to the tabernacle; yet they prophesied in the camp. And a young man ran and told Moses, and said, “Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp.” So Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, answered and said, “Moses my lord, forbid them!”  Then Moses said to Joshua, “Are you jealous for my sake? Oh, THAT ALL THE LORD’S PEOPLE WERE PROPHETS AND THAT THE LORD WOULD PUT HIS SPIRIT UPON THEM!” Here Moses did not get jealous of Eldad & Medad but his desire was that all the Lord’s people become prophets & may Lord put His Spirit upon them. (Numbers 11:24 to 30)

God has kept each one’s lot secure. Here also, though, these two men and other 70 elders have prophesied, but Moses’ position/image/place in God’s eyes did not diminish. It was his privilege to have the divine conference on Mount of transfiguration with Jesus and Elijah regarding Jesus’ decease which He (Jesus) was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. (Luke 9:30,31)  The wonderful plans of God for Moses were not taken away by anyone.

The author of Hebrews compared Moses’ faithfulness with the faithfulness of Christ Jesus. (Hebrews 3:1,2) Wow, what an honour! Not only that, but also in Revelation 15:1 to 4, those who have the victory over the beast, over his image and over his mark and over the number of his name, standing on the sea of glass, having harps of God. They will sing the SONG OF MOSES, the servant of God, and THE SONG OF THE LAMB,….

Song of Moses along with the song of the Lamb will be sung by the Victorious saints, when seven angels about to pour seven plagues i.e. wrath of God.

Jesus gave assurance to His disciples that, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and GREATER WORKS THAN THESE HE WILL DO, because I go to My Father”. (John 14:12) By this verse we can understand that, even Jesus was not insecure, if His disciples did greater works than Him.

  • What if Cain would have taken seriously the warning of God of doing well & rule over the sin lying at the door? By doing so, he & his offering would have also been accepted by God like Abel and he would not have been cursed from the earth. (Genesis 4:6,7,11)
  • What if those 2 governors & 120 satraps would not have come out with a cunning decree to set trap for Daniel? But, if they would have followed the faithfulness, integrity, honesty & the excellent spirit of Daniel, then their lives along with their families would have been saved.
  • It would be different history today, if Saul had not envied David but would have repented of his sins and corrected himself. Then he would not have died such a miserable death.

Proverbs 14:30 says that, ‘A sound heart is life to the body, But envy is rottenness to the bones.’  It will not do any good but only will eat up our image, character, goodness, health & future. Let’s get rid of it. Let us not be like Cain, Saul & those governors & satraps but be like Jesus & Moses.

God bless.

 Anjali Jose

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