Israel's Jealousy {Acts 22}

12:31 AM

By Lisa Moore

At the end of the previous chapter, the angry mob attempts to beat Paul to death.  They falsely believed he had defiled the holy temple by sneaking in Gentiles.  Gentiles were not allowed in the inner courts of the temple, and doing so was a crime punishable by death.  Now in chapter 22 after convincing the commander of the soldiers that it was a case of mistaken identity, Paul is allowed to address the people and give his defense.  He delivers his testimony in the "Hebrew dialect" causing the crowd to quiet down and listen.  Speaking as a Jew to his fellow Jews, Paul tells of his life and actions before knowing Jesus as his Savior, the events surrounding his conversion, and how he was called into ministry.  The Jews listened intently to all Paul had to say until he finished with this, "And He said to me, 'Go!  For I will send you far away to the Gentiles.", (v. 21)  Once again, the mob rioted.  They cried out for Paul's death, "...throwing off their cloaks and tossing dust into the wind.", (v. 23).  What was behind the Jews anger toward the Gentiles?  Jealousy. 

Jealousy is a powerful emotion.  James 3:16 warns, "Where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing."  The Jews took great pride in being God's chosen people.  They were sure He loved them best.  The gift of salvation was theirs alone.  It was offensive to them to think of Gentiles as their equals, both having to follow the same path to God.  It made them bitter and jealous.  And more often than not, as is often the case, that jealousy turned to anger and lead them to engage in very ungodly behavior.  

When reading this chapter I caught myself feeling a bit indignant at the Jewish people.  I thought, "Who are they to tell God who He can offer salvation to?  How could they be so jealous?  Why didn't they celebrate and praise God for offering eternal life to the entire world?"  And then immediately God laid a conviction on my heart.  What about my own behavior?  How many times have I seen the answered prayers of others and instead of being thankful thought to myself, "Why not me?"
How many times have I seen God bless others abundantly and instead of praising God thought to myself, "Why not me?"  How many times have I seen others find God's calling for their lives and instead of sharing in their joy thought to myself, "Why not me?"  And the list goes on.

Jealousy shifts our focus away from God and onto ourselves.  We become distracted, prideful, and covetous.  We entertain thoughts of false entitlement and self pity.  It keeps us from enjoying God's best for our lives, chipping away at our self worth and leaving us feeling discouraged, unloved.  And that's just where the enemy wants us.  He gladly encourages us down a desolate path that leads us farther from God.  He wants us trapped in a thought pattern of "Me" instead of "Him".  

No matter our circumstances, there is always something to be thankful for.  Always.  From the first breath we draw in the morning to the time our head hits the pillow at night, and all of the hours in between, our day is filled with His blessings.  God loves us, and is One who as Paul promises us in Phil. 4:19, "...will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus."  We might not get everything we want, but we will get everything we need.  That's a lot to be grateful for, and the key to overcoming jealousy.  Living with a grateful heart.  

A grateful heart has no room for jealousy.  For we can't be truly thankful and filled with envy at the same time.  A grateful heart allows us to be joyful when we see God's work in the lives of others, and rejoices at His will being done.  A grateful heart trusts in His perfect timing and in His love and provision.  And most of all, whether we live in the largest or smallest house on the block, have our prayers answered immediately or are in a time of waiting, see others prosper while we struggle, a grateful heart reinforces the truth that if we Have God we have enough.

"O come, let us sing for joy to the Lord, let us shout joyfully to the rock of our salvation.  Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving, let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms.  For the Lord is a great God." (Psalm 95:1-3)

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