Acts 13:45 When the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and talked abusively against what Paul was saying.
The Japanese describes the actions of the Jews here a little more graphically than the NIV: “They cursed him with filthy mouths.” It takes no imagination today to grasp what that was like, since too many people can’t seem to open their mouth without using filthy words. The important thing here is that these Jews were motivated by jealousy. It strikes me that so much of what we see going on, politically and otherwise, seems motivated the same way. Some are consciously stoking that, seeking to divide and defeat by it. America was founded on, among other things, the concept of equality of opportunity. However, that has never been a guarantee of equality of outcome, and some people are twisting things around to demand such things as equal income regardless of effort or ability. Such things destroy societies and nations, as history and current events show us clearly. Jealousy cannot rejoice at another’s success, and is one of the most petty of emotions. I have no idea whether these Jews had been seeking to tell the Gentiles in their town about the God of Abraham, but somehow I doubt it. If they had been doing so with pure hearts, they would have rejoiced at what God was doing through Paul. As it was, all they could do was see that he was getting massive response, and since they had never gotten that, they wanted to put a stop to him, not correct their own way of doing things. Sadly, that sort of thing is not uncommon among churches and ministers today. Jealousy is certainly not limited to politics! Whether we seem “successful” or not, we each need to recognize that we are all created by one God for His purposes, and offer ourselves to Him for however He wants to use us. Just yesterday I was reminded of the essentially unknown evangelist who led Billy Graham to Christ. When I was sharing that with my wife, she gave me the further detail that the hymn, Just As I Am, that Billy Graham used to such powerful effect in inviting people to commitment, was written by someone who was handicapped and felt totally useless. If we reject jealousy and submit ourselves, just as we are, to God, then He will use us for His glory, whether we ever see it with our physical eyes or not.
I have had flashes of jealousy, but I am grateful that it has not been a controlling influence in my life. Most of my life I have been very aware that God has been more than gracious toward me. I have never had a huge income, but my needs have been met. I have never had a huge congregation, but God has touched people through me. I have felt that in general, people were more likely to be jealous of me than I of them! I continue to pray of an outpouring of the Holy Spirit on this nation, and when that happens, I’m sure my activities will change a great deal, but that is very much His business, and whatever my circumstances, my task is to be faithfully obedient. I am to speak blessing on all, sincerely and not sarcastically. I am to continue to rejoice that God would use even me in His plans, in no matter how small a way, and give Him the praise and glory He deserves.
Father, thank You for this reminder. I do ask Your mercy for America in this crisis time, and I pray that Your children would wake up to what is going on and submit themselves afresh to You. I pray that my words, both verbal and written, would be what You want to say through me, accomplishing Your purposes for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!