I know I blogged about the sermon on Resurrection Sunday, but there is yet more to tell. We had a special singer, too. Now, it happened to be a girl I graduated with back in the day. She was the homecoming queen. I used to think she had the perfect life, yk? Beautiful, popular, she was just it. I’ve only seen her a few times since we graduated, and you know what? She’s still beautiful, she’s still popular, and she is still it, only now it means on fire for God. Wow! She had that room rocking, and it. was. totally. wonderful! And oh, it made me so jealous!
Now, we know the Bible tells us not to be covetous. And some people make a mistake and they think that means we can’t be jealous, either. What I want to share today is that there is a difference between covetousness and jealousy, and that jealousy can be a GOOD thing, if we harness it and use it, instead of letting it fester in us.
First, let’s define covetousness, and explain why it’s wrong. If I am covetous, that mean I want what you have and I don’t want you to have it anymore. We’re probably most familiar with the term covert from the 10 commandments, where we are told “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.” (Exodus 20:17). It appears in several other places, but I am only going to point out a couple more. In Micah 2, we find this: 1 Woe to those who devise iniquity, And work out evil on their beds! At morning light they practice it, Because it is in the power of their hand. 2 They covet fields and take them by violence, Also houses, and seize them. So they oppress a man and his house, A man and his inheritance. and in James 4, 1 Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? 2 You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. Do you see the pattern of folks wanting what they should not have and then committing wrong acts to obtain it? Covetousness, when it reaches full growth, will cause you to sin against others.
But what about jealousy? Surely jealousy will cause the same thing? Well, yes and no. We’ve all known folks who were jealous of another’s gorgeous hair or eyes, and treated them poorly because of it. I’m pretty sure, though, that the root sins in that case are pride and anger, not the desire for what another has. In 2 Corinthians, we find these words For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. So then we know there is such a thing as Godly jealousy. See, when my friend was singing, and the Holy Ghost was falling on that place so heavy you could reach out and touch Him, I wanted that! And what’s more, I remembered that I used to have that.
What happened? I got involved with life. I let my cares, my duties, my obligations, my family’s needs, my own desires, even church work, get me to a place where I was dry, doing things in my own power, where I forgot that the yoke was supposed to be easy, the burden light. I let my focus get off God, the purpose of the work, and settle on the work itself. Now, God was faithful, and he enabled me to keep on keeping on, but the JOY was pure-tee gone from it. I was like David when he wrote Psalm 57 and said Make me hear joy and gladness, That the bones You have broken may rejoice. Hide Your face from my sins, And blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, And uphold me by Your generous Spirit.
And so what did I do about it? I pulled out those Gospel cd’s that I had quit listening to because I was afraid they would offend dh, or the kids wouldn’t like them because they were old, and I ripped them to my mp3 player, right there with the jazz and country and pop and podcasts, and I spend time listening and praising God each day. And Praise The Lord, there has been JOY in this house this week. I’ve had church here every day! I’m working harder and I’m working longer, but there is a spring in my step, and a smile on my face, because now I remember why I am doing all the stuff that I do. Hallelujah! And the kids are having to listen to those “old” songs anyway, because I can’t help but sing!! It just bubbles up and comes pouring right out!! See, that jealousy was a good thing for me.
And let me tell you one more thing. One day, it’s gonna be over. I have a choice over how I go out of this life. I can go with a whimper or I can go with a shout. When I go, I want to leave shouting Soooooooooooooo! Why? Because the Bible says “let the redeemed of the Lord say so”! I’m not perfect, I’m just forgiven. I’m redeemed. Redeemed means I haven’t had a thing to do with it: Some One Else paid the whole cost. And He didn’t just pay for my life, He paid for my abundant life. Joy and Peace and Strength for the journey. Amen!