What is the cause of a disorderly heart? There’s likely more than one answer, but today let’s consider jealousy. (Side note: The great benefit of word study in the bible is how focusing on one concept can illuminate many passages, especially familiar passages.)
When we read James 3:14-16 we see a word about wisdom, and the difference between carnal and godly wisdom. The point about jealousy almost seems out of place, but it’s a powerful key to understanding our own hearts. I hope this blesses you as this blesses me.
13 If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don’t cover up the truth with boasting and lying. 15 For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic. 16 For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind.James 3:13-16 NLT (emphasis added)
WOW, right?! We demonstrate Godly wisdom through honorable living, doing good works with humility. Here’s the contrast. BUT IF YOU ARE BITTERLY JEALOUS in the heart, don’t boast and lie and cover up the truth about who you are. God’s wisdom is not jealous. Jealousy is earthly, unspiritual, and demonic. Did you read that?! As if that isn’t enough, there’s a final blow. WHEREVER there is jealousy, we are guaranteed to find disorder and evil of EVERY kind.
I must note that jealousy is paired with selfish ambition in this passage…but selfish ambition warrants its own post, so we won’t cover it here.
What grabs me in this passage is that wherever — without restriction — jealousy is and exists, we will find disorder. Is it possible that our hearts are split or divided due to jealousy? Yes, of course. Not only will we find disorder, but we will find every kind of evil. This is jolting, and it should be, to believers in Jesus. This is a statement of negative potential, or how far a jealous heart will go to commit evil. What are we capable of if our hearts are overcome with bitter jealousy? This passage says we are capable of evil of every kind. This is scary.
Please, let’s search our hearts for jealousy and selfish ambition. Let’s not boast or lie to cover up the truth. Let’s face it, lean into it, confess it, resolve it, and move forward in contentment. Jealousy, if we harbor it, creates disorder in the heart. In this condition, we will have difficulty hearing and applying Godly wisdom. We will have a real hindrance to demonstrating Godly wisdom with humility.
I also appeal to the Godly who have done the work and continue to keep a clean heart. Let’s condition ourselves to see the signs of a jealous and selfishly ambitious heart, and pray for those who suffer. When we are stunned by those who commit evil of every kind and profess a relationship with God through Jesus, let’s condition ourselves to pray. Most of all, let’s be sensitive to jealousy creeping into our own hearts.
If we are capable of every kind of evil when bitter jealousy and selfish ambition are in our hearts, HOW MUCH MORE ARE WE CAPABLE OF with pure hearts and humbly serving in Godly wisdom?! SELAH. Now, let’s be better and guard our hearts.
Dr. Shaunta D. Scroggins is the founder of The Bereans’ Commentary.
Educator - Advocate - Writer
"In the darkness of night, I wait expectantly for understanding and knowledge for your people."
Rooted Grounded Fixed and Founded in the Love of God