In a family, one can observe jealousy between siblings. Especially when one is favored over another. A sister can get jealous when the other sister gets a new dress and she doesn’t. In the workplace, jealousy can be seen between co-workers when one gets a promotion or salary raise and the other doesn’t. In a friendship, jealousy can occur between a group of friends. On social media, we see people who are jealous of both the people they know personally and the ones they have never met but see highlights of their life that seem better than theirs.
Jealousy takes up different forms in our day-to-day lives. Hence, it is no surprise to see how jealousy has crept its way into the church, the body of Christ/the bride of Christ/the family of God.
While jealousy might have been normalized in the world, it should never be normal in the church, the body of Christ. It is a sin. Jealousy often starts with comparison and when we fall short, jealousy and envy sets in. This can lead to other sinful thoughts and actions.
“God I have been diligently serving you all these years, why are you using Sam who just came out of nowhere more than you are using me?”
“God I pray daily and obey you, why are you not blessing me financially as you are blessing Cynthia?”
“God, why do they have more influence and followers than I do?”
“God why not me?”
What we have failed to understand is that the church is ONE body. And each part has its function and duty. And when each does its job, the body functions optimally.
THE BODY OF CHRIST
Christ is the head of the church, which is his body (Colossians 1:18).
1 Corinthians 12
12 The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. 17 If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything? 18 But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it. 19 How strange a body would be if it had only one part! 20 Yes, there are many parts, but only one body. 21 The eye can never say to the hand, “I don’t need you.” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you.”
22 In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary. 26 If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad.
27 All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it. 28 Here are some of the parts God has appointed for the church: first are apostles, second are prophets, third are teachers, then those who do miracles, those who have the gift of healing, those who can help others, those who have the gift of leadership, those who speak in unknown languages.
If the ear says today, “I have been hanging off the head all these while and without me, the act of hearing would have been impossible, why don’t I get as much praise as the heart or brain does? God, why won’t you make me a brain? I deserve more.”
If the ear ever says such, this shows that the ear does not know it’s worth and importance in the body. While the ear might seem small and all it does is help with hearing and balance in the body, it is still extremely important. A deaf person can testify to that.
The parts or organs of the body with somewhat bigger roles such as the heart might get more praise and attention but its importance is not greater in the body. Its role might be greater but other parts are just as important, needed and valuable as the heart in the body.
And what we fail to also understand is, the parts with bigger roles have much more expected of them. For to whom much is given, much is expected. The bigger role is not always fun but it is needed. The title, the position might seem amazing but it requires that much more work and responsibility. And with that comes more testing and trials yet much is required.
So the parts with seemingly “lesser roles” should not be jealous of the ones with bigger roles but should support them. They need your prayers and your encouragement.
For, if one part suffers, the other parts suffer with it.
The ear could sit on the head and be jealous of the heart all day while the heart works tireless to pump blood to the whole body and keep it running and if the ear and other parts do not get off their jealousy horses and do their assigned duties, soon, the heart will tire out and the rest of the body will be affected too.
Your jealousy does not help you or the body of Christ. It hurts it.
Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians says a jealous person is still a worldly Christian.
1 Corinthians 3:3, “You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans?”
A jealous person is still being controlled by his/her sinful nature and this shows that sure a person is not growing and maturing in Christ.
The presence of jealousy in the body of Christ also shows the absence of love.
1 Corinthians 13:4 says, “Love does not envy.”
Is it not ridiculous that a body’s part is jealous of other parts in the same body? Is such part ignorant of the truth that without other parts, it is inefficient by itself?
A brother or sister who has more influence than you should not ignite jealousy in you but should ignite love. It should bring you to your knees to pray for such a person that he/she will be strengthened as they serve. It should ignite thanksgiving in you that they are able to reach more and more people that you may never be able to reach. You should be thankful and joyful that more souls are being saved and brought into the body of Christ.
Do you think you can carry out the great commission by yourself?
Do you think that just one part of the body can share the gospel to the end of the world?
That is why the whole body is needed. Each part doing its part in its own local circle, assignment and opportuned regions. Are you a pastor/shepherd? Pastor. Are you a teacher? Teach. Are you a prophet? Prophecy. Are you a healer? Heal. Are you a helper? Help. Are you a giver? Give. Are you a leader? Lead. Are you an administrator? Administrate. Are you an encourager or an exhorter? Then encourage and exhort. And so on.
Darling, do your part and pray for others too.
It would be unwise of us to assume that the Apostle Paul did not experience some jealousy and envy among the other apostles and believers when he lived. He seemed to have suddenly come out of nowhere. His conversion was radical and God used him mightily. He might have encountered jealously from apostles and believers that had been with Jesus or being saved longer than he was. But what they didn’t realize was that Paul was called and chosen as an instrument to preach the gospel to the gentiles. He was to suffer greatly for Christ’s sake (Acts 9: 15). Much was entrusted to him and much was required. And more trials did he go through. He was shipwrecked, beaten by a snake, beaten by people, spent years in prison and more. Paul was simply doing his part diligently. Preaching and teaching the gospel. Other parts of the body were still needed to do the giving, helping, leading, encouraging, pastoring, healing, etc.
Paul didn’t need jealousy or people comparing themselves to him, he needed prayers, support, and encouragement. He needed other believers to be committed equally to their duty and share the gospel where they could too. In as much as Paul shared the gospel in many regions, they were places he didn’t and couldn’t do this, such as Asia because the Holy Spirit would not let him (Acts 16:16). In such places, other parts and members of the body of Christ had to share the gospel. And when he was in prison, other parts of the body whom he had shared the gospel with had to pass it on to others.
Every part of the body is needed and valuable.
Together, we function optimally.
Together, we can take on the world and change it.
Divided, we do nothing but add to the disorder and sinfulness that is already in the world.
If your goal for serving and loving God and his people is to be recognized and celebrated by many, then you will continue to get frustrated and most likely get jealous when others get what you want. Stay focused. Do your part and more. Pray for others. Celebrate with others. Rejoice with others.
It is ONE body!
We are all in ONE body. Just many parts.
Your victory is my victory. Your loss is mine too. Because we are all in ONE.
For you being used by God radically is my joy. Because through you many more can be saved. Many more can be encouraged. I can be encouraged. God can get more glory.
Isn’t that our goal? And does it really matter which part does more?
Being jealous of one another is nothing by stupidity.
I lingered and pondered heavily on using the word “Stupidity” in the title and body of this blog post but I couldn’t shake off the necessity.
Stupidity means “behavior that shows a lack of good sense or judgment.” And that is exactly what produces jealousy. Jealousy in the church is sinful behavior that shows a lack of good sense or judgment about the ONENESS beauty of the body of Christ, its function and its need for unity.
But thank God, stupidity can be cured.
It can be changed. We can repent of it. Such behavior can be changed when we change our thinking. When we change our judgment. And I hope this blog post has helped us all to reflect and change our thinking.
We do not need jealousy in the church.
We need unity. We need to celebrate and encourage one another.
In your local circle and the body of Christ, ensure to promote unity, love, and encouragement. Pray for your pastor. Pray for that person you are jealous of on social media. Celebrate them. Encourage them. They need it. You need it.
The body of Christ will be at its best when it stops hating and being jealous of itself.
So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples” (John 13:34-35).
You are Eternally Loved.