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The Green-Eyed Monster

While watching the riots the other day, I heard a protestor say, “I am not worried about looting. These businesses have insurance; they’ll recover—why should they get everything.”

It reminded me of Shakespeare’s Othello that used the phrase, “O, beware, my lord, of jealousy; It is the green-ey’d monster, which doth mock the meat it feeds on.” (It’s in Act III if you’re wondering).

Monster is a scary word. It conjures up thoughts of evil, fear, panic, and pain. It’s the word most associated with horror films, and campfires stories.

Can we become so jealous of someone that we transform into monsters?

In First Kings 3, King Solomon is judging Israel when two prostitutes meet him.  According to the narrative, both women were pregnant and living together. One gives birth, and a few days later, the next woman also delivers her baby.  Both women seem to love and care for their children. However, while sleeping, one of the women rolls over her child and smothers him to death.  In the act of jealousy, the woman kidnaps her friend’s baby and places her dead infant in the arms of her sleeping friend.

Now King Solomon must judge who is the rightful mother of the child. Solomon calls for a sword and offers each woman one-half of the child, making both women equal again. Yet, out of love, the child’s true mother offers to forfeit the ownership of her baby to save his life.

The Bible also tells us of King Saul, who in 1 Samuel, chapter 18, becomes jealous of David when he overhears the women singing, “Saul has struck down his thousands, but David killed ten thousand.” That enrages Saul because David took the limelight away from him, and now David exhibited talent in winning wars that Saul did not possess.  Thus, Saul became so enraged he determined to hunt down David and kill him.  However, in the end, Saul lost his beloved son Jonathan, and then committed suicide.

Jealousy and envy are the children of coveting. But more than that, covetousness is rooted in pride. It says, “Not only do you not deserve to rise above me, but you also don’t deserve to have what I want.”

In James 4, we read, “What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious 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 with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.”

There’s no love in jealousy.

When jealousy takes root in the heart, it masterminds a plan to suppress or even destroy its neighbor. It gossips with sharp words. It acts unbecomingly. It seeks the death (even the reputational death) of a person, and not love. In that, we become monsters.

There is no place for monsters in the church body.

In her book, The Music of His Promises, Elisabeth Elliot writes a devotional entry entitled, “Do I Love my Neighbor?” In the passage, she says, “If I imagine that I love my neighbor, let me test my love by asking how glad I am that he has achieved what I have failed to achieve; that he has managed to acquire what I have long wished to acquire; that he is loved by someone or by many, or in some way that has never been granted to me. If I love my neighbor as myself, there will be no reason at all for the least twinge of jealousy—because I will be just as happy that he has what I wanted as I would be if I had it.”

Elisabeth Elliot. My hero.

The Bible teaches that we are to mourn with those who mourn and rejoice with those who rejoice. Therefore, the next time that green-eyed monster bats his eyes at you refrain from giving it a home in your thoughts. Repent. Humble yourself before God, and ask Him to teach you to love your neighbor as yourself. There will be no harmony in your life or the world for that matter until we learn to consider others as more important than ourselves.