14 However, if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, then stop bragging and living in ways that deny the truth. 15 This is not the wisdom that comes down from above. Instead, it is from the earth, natural and demonic. 16 Wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there is disorder and everything that is evil.
1 Corinthians 3:1-3
1 Brothers and sisters, I couldn’t talk to you like spiritual people but like unspiritual people, like babies in Christ. 2 I gave you milk to drink instead of solid food, because you weren’t up to it yet. 3 Now you are still not up to it because you are still unspiritual. When jealousy and fighting exist between you, aren’t you unspiritual and living by human standards?
“This town ain't big enough for the two of us!” *
Feeling threatened by others is so common that the Toy Story script put the above saying on Woody’s pull string! We often excuse our insecure, jealous feelings as “just human.” The apostle James said “bitter jealousy and selfish ambition” in no way come from God. They lead, he said, to “disorder and everything that is evil.” Similarly, the apostle Paul told Corinthian Christians plainly that jealousy and fighting are “unspiritual.”
- Scholar William Barclay noted, “There is a kind of person who is undoubtedly clever, with acute brain and skilful tongue; but his effect, nevertheless, in…any group, is to cause trouble and to disturb personal relationships. It is sobering thing to remember that the wisdom he possesses is devilish rather than divine.” Have you ever known (or been) a person like that? How can you find the security needed to turn that kind of intelligence and skill to more positive purposes?
- Paul warned the Corinthians about their disputes about “belonging” to a favorite teacher (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:10-13). That turned their Christian life into a personality contest. N. T. Wright described the impulse to “so easily lapse from serious issues to personality-clashes, and from personalities to mere gossip, while all the time pretending we are still dealing with important matters….They may think they’re very sophisticated, but in reality they are ‘merely human’.” *** How is God moving you toward seeing what’s truly vital in your faith, and not personality conflict or gossip?
Lord Jesus, help me to recognize my insecure feelings that can turn into destructive jealousy. Grow me into greater security as a beloved member of your family. Amen.
* A phrase on Woody’s pull string - from http://www.finestquotes.com/movie_quotes/movie/Toy%20Story/page/0.htm
** William Barclay, Daily Study Bible Series: The Letters of James and Peter (Revised Edition). Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, revised edition 1976, p. 94.
*** N. T. Wright, Paul for Everyone: 1 Corinthians. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2004, p. 30.
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Donna Karlen serves in Communications at Church of the Resurrection by creating and managing social media content.