We’ve been looking at Kings Saul and David and examining the glass ceilings they had in their lives, particularly Saul. We have looked at fear, which is probably the biggest ceiling of all, and also impatience, one that’s particularly big for me. Today I want to talk about a ceiling most of us rarely discuss, but one that was huge in Saul’s life, and if we are honest, is pretty big in our lives at times… The glass ceiling of jealousy.
Jealousy is a glass ceiling that drives fear, drives separation and causes pain, both for the one who is jealous and the one over whom words of jealousy are spoken.
1 Samuel 18:6-12 (ESV Strong's)
As they were coming home, when David returned from striking down the Philistine, the women came out of all the cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet King Saul, with tambourines, with songs of joy, and with musical instruments. And the women sang to one another as they celebrated,
“Saul has struck down his thousands,
and David his ten thousands.”
And Saul was very angry, and this saying displeased him. He said, “They have ascribed to David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed thousands, and what more can he have but the kingdom?” And Saul eyed David from that day on.
The next day a harmful spirit from God rushed upon Saul, and he raved within his house while David was playing the lyre, as he did day by day. Saul had his spear in his hand. And Saul hurled the spear, for he thought, “I will pin David to the wall.” But David evaded him twice.
Saul was afraid of David because the Lord was with him but had departed from Saul.
Jealousy consumed Saul to the point where it opened the door for an evil spirit to enter his life. Jealousy is subtle, often clothed in things like criticism or gossip, and unbelievably destructive!
Saul was king, he had everything you could want, but he was terribly envious of David, he knew the Lord was taking the kingdom from him, and giving it to David, so this jealousy allowed Satan access to him. Jealousy both hurt Saul and David.
JEALOUSY AND ENVY
We recently had a conference, and I have jokingly suggested that I experience toilet envy, because they have cubicles, urinals, hot water and even showers, where we have 2 x 100 year old toilets. I experienced car park envy, because they have a nice big one and we have Max playing car tetris. My latest is foyer envy, because their foyer is larger than our auditorium!
We can joke about it, but behind the joke is a little stab of envy, wishing we had what others appear to have. Solomon said,
Ecclesiastes 4:4 (ESV Strong's)
Then I saw that all toil and all skill in work come from a man's envy of his neighbor. This also is vanity and a striving after wind.
Jealousy is futile, vanity and a destructive emotion.
WHAT ARE WE JEALOUS ABOUT?
Jealousy can be a good thing. God is described as a jealous God (Deuteronomy 4:24), loving us so much He refuses to let us go. We can also be jealous for Him, as Elijah said,
1 Kings 19:14 (ESV Strong's)
He said, “I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts.
But mostly in our modern society we are jealous not about God, but about lots of other things, most of which are temporal and do not matter in the long run. We are jealous about cars, houses, boats, rewards, honour or promotions. Jealousy is everywhere, and we’d be lying if we said we never felt it.
Most of us feel it, recognise it as a sin, repent and move on, but sometimes we feel justified hanging on to it, even though it leads to bitterness and destruction.
So what kind of things can we be jealous of?
1. THE POSSESSIONS OF OTHERS
It’s easy to envy other people’s stuff, because the world tells us that success is measured by stuff. I saw a sticker once saying, “The one who dies with the most toys wins.” That’s ridiculously far from the truth!
Possessions tend to come with strings attached. I’ve known some very rich but very miserable people. They have a lot, but really they have very little. Like the rich young ruler…
Matthew 19:21-22 (ESV Strong's)
Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
He didn’t have possessions, his possessions had him. We get envious over things that ultimately are not important. We forget the 10 commandments,
Exodus 20:17 (ESV Strong's)
“You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor's.”
2. THE POSITION OF OTHERS
We often envy the position others find themselves in, especially if they are in leadership. We envy the respect, the trimmings, the honour, the favour they seem to get, but we have no idea of the pressures they face. Joseph’s brothers were insanely jealous
Genesis 37:4 (ESV Strong's)
But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him and could not speak peacefully to him.
Even to the point of doing away with him. Families can be like that!
3. THE PRAISES OF SUCCESS OF OTHERS
When someone gets a reward we thought we should get, acknowledgement, praise, promotion, we can get jealous.
1 Samuel 18:8 (ESV Strong's)
And Saul was very angry, and this saying displeased him. He said, “They have ascribed to David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed thousands, and what more can he have but the kingdom?”
Saul was jealous of David because people praised him more. They still praised Saul, but he couldn't focus on that because he was second, and to many people today coming second is just being the first loser!
ULTIMATELY, JEALOUSY IS ALL ABOUT YOU
Jealousy is never about someone else, it’s always about you.
James 4:2-3 (ESV Strong's)
You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.
James pulls no punches, and he’s writing to Christians! 9 times in 2 verses he uses you of your. Dress up your jealousy as you like, frame it in neat, religious, pious language, ultimately it’s still all about you!
And because it’s so self centred, it robs you of your joy. Jealousy causes misery, mostly in the one who is jealous. Look at Saul, how happy was he, hurling spears at people or alienating his own children, all because of jealousy of David. How about Joseph’s brothers? Or Cain, whose jealousy drove him to murder his brother.
Jealousy is a poison that infects your life and then slowly but surely destroys you,
Job 5:2 (ESV Strong's)
Surely vexation kills the fool, and jealousy slays the simple.
WATCH OUT FOR SECONDARY INFECTIONS OF JEALOUSY
Jealousy is often the primary infection, but it strips away your spiritual protection from the evil one and exposes you to secondary infections which are even more destructive.
Years ago we talked about AIDS killing people, but AIDS didn’t actually kill. The virus lowered immunity, and then the host was killed by something as common as a flu or pneumonia. Jealousy is like that, it removes your spiritual immunity and gives rise to secondaries like…
Saul saw his huge glass ceiling of fear fed by the glass ceiling of jealousy, which he never broke through…
1 Samuel 18:14-15 (ESV Strong's)
And David had success in all his undertakings, for the Lord was with him. And when Saul saw that he had great success, he stood in fearful awe of him.
If you compare yourself, if you are jealous of someone else’s success, you place undue weight upon your own back, with the fear that you will never reach up to their level.
Jealousy, if you hang on to it, will lead to bitterness, and bitterness is a secondary that will destroy you.
Hebrews 12:15 (ESV Strong's)
See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled;
So not only is jealousy a glass ceiling, stopping you from becoming who you are destined to be, but it is also a root that digs in and infects your whole being. Trying pulling out a plant who has roots entwined around a pipe or something else, is a big task.
3. JEALOUSY CAUSES SEPARATION
Jealousy drives people away from you. It separates friends, blows apart churches, ruins families and destroys everything in its path. Look at Saul,
1 Samuel 20:30 (ESV Strong's)
Then Saul's anger was kindled against Jonathan, and he said to him, “You son of a perverse, rebellious woman, do I not know that you have chosen the son of Jesse to your own shame, and to the shame of your mother's nakedness?
Jealousy is particularly strong in families, such as with Cain and Abel.
4. JEALOUSY IS CONSUMING
Jealousy and envy turn to bitterness and consume you, like a wasting disease, and the Bible describes it as like rotting bones.
Proverbs 14:30 (ESV Strong's)
A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot.
5. JEALOUSY CAUSES DEATH
Jealousy, if left to run is course, will lead to death. Make no mistake, jealousy is not just a ceiling, it’s a death sentence!
Song of Songs 8:6 (ESV Strong's)
for love is strong as death, jealousy is fierce as the grave.
Its flashes are flashes of fire, the very flame of the Lord.
It was for Saul, and it will be for you if you don’t deal with it.
SMASHING THROUGH BOTH SIDES OF JEALOUSY
Jealousy has been around since time began, since Cain and Abel, so we all feel it. The flu virus is around everywhere too, but some get infected while others don’t. Some fight it off naturally, but others need a vaccine.
The vaccine for jealousy, the drug that removes this ceiling from your life, comes in 4 parts.
1. STOP COMPARING
Comparisons are almost always wrong. Compare yourself with someone lesser and it fuels your pride. Compare yourself with someone superior and it fuels inferiority. No one wins in comparisons.
Especially in a family. One of the most hurtful things a parent can say to a child is, “Why aren’t you like your brother or sister.” If this has happened to you, it’s hurtful, but today is the day you forgive and quash sibling jealousy forever.
Galatians 6:3-4 (ESV Strong's)
For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor.
The first step in breaking through this glass ceiling is to stop comparing yourself to others, especially when it come to serving the Lord.
2. BE CONTENT
If you have a contented spirit, you will tend not to be jealous of anyone. Paul discovered this,
Philippians 4:11-13 (ESV Strong's)
I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
If you are content in Him, jealousy is a non event, and you are inoculated from the poison of jealousy…
Hebrews 13:5 (ESV Strong's)
Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
3. CELEBRATE OTHERS
In church, we say we love others and put them first, but it’s about time we started living it. Can you be genuinely happy for someone who has success… I mean genuinely?
It’s like the academy awards, and the forced cheesy smiles of the runners up! Even in the church it can be like this, but Paul says…
Philippians 2:3-4 (ESV Strong's)
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Aussies are particularly bad at this. We don’t put others first, and the Tall Poppy syndrome ensures that we are quick to criticise and slow to build up. As believers, we should be speaking words of encouragement to one another, not criticism, and especially when it’s motivated by jealousy…
Ephesians 4:29 (ESV Strong's)
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.
We are so quick to cut down those who have success, and the basis of this is jealousy. We should be better than that, and speak life and words of encouragement, especially here in church.
4. SEEK GOD’S APPROVAL, NOT MAN’S
The final step is at the core of the glass ceiling of jealousy… are we seeking man’s approval, or God’s. Saul was constantly seeking man’s approval, and fear of what people thought of him was the glass ceiling that eventually ruined his destiny. But Paul said,
Galatians 1:10 (ESV Strong's)
For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.
SET FREE FROM WORDS SPOKEN OVER YOU
I asked God where I should go with this message, and I believe His Anointing is here this morning to break the power of negative and jealous words spoken over you in the past.
Many of us have know the destructive power of words spoken over our lives, much of it stemming from jealousy. Sometimes words were spoken that made you jealous, but often someone else was jealous of you and their words of jealousy were designed to bring you down a peg or two, much like Saul’s jealousy tried to destroy David. Many of us carry scars caused by someone else’s tongue,
James 3:5-6 (ESV Strong's)
So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things.
How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell.
Today I want to heal those hurts, and some of you have had words spoken over you years ago that still keep you in bondage today.
Many years ago I was up for credentialing as a pastor, but was told by a particular pastor who stopped me at the last hurdle that I would never be a pastor, and could never be a leader. I was devastated, but kept serving and ministering as I had opportunity. But those words (based on jealousy) haunted me for more than a decade… You’ll never be a leader or pastor.
Years later when God asked me to step into this position, someone else attacked me, saying I’ll never be a pastor, I’ll never be a leader. Words, based on someone else’s jealousy and insecurity still had power, still resonated in my ears. I had to give those words to God, and allow Him to destroy their effect on my life, and that’s why I stand here today, because by the power of God I am called, and chosen and those words have no power over me any more.
What negative words have been spoken over you in the past? Jealous words can kill both the jealous person and the one they are jealous of. We Aussies are good at cutting others down to size with our words, but we Christians should never be like that!
Today I want to break the power of those words.
Isaiah 54:17 (ESV Strong's)
no weapon that is fashioned against you shall succeed,
and you shall refute every tongue that rises against you in judgment.
This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord
and their vindication from me, declares the Lord.”