Why Do Envy, Jealousy Exist In God’s House?
The venomous vices of envy and jealousy should ordinarily be found in the dank and dense jungles of deadly sins, crawling alongside pride, greed, lust, gluttony, wrath and sloth. Sadly, they have crept into religious centres and appear to have even found their way to the frontlines of leadership and worship activities. CHRIS IREKAMBA takes this puzzling scenario to clerics and asks the baffling WHY!
‘The Church Consists Of
Natural, Spiritual, Carnal Men’
(Bishop Olanrewaju Obembe, Presiding Bishop of El-Shaddai Bible Church, Dolphin Estate, Ikoyi, Lagos)
We have the natural man; we have the carnal man; we also have the spiritual man. All these exist in the house of God. The Corinthian church was blessed with the gifts of God, yet Apostle Paul said he could not even communicate with them on some very important doctrinal issues because of their level of carnality. In my recent psychological study, it’s established that when five particular elements are at play, human beings will misbehave. Whenever there is power, money, influence, affluence and sometimes the opposite sex, it’s established that human beings will always misbehave, whether natural or carnal. The spiritual man may not easily fall prey. But you find these levels of spiritual growths in the metamorphosis of man. When God does something for you, there are people who would say, “We wish it never happened to you.” That is envy and we need to recognise the difference between envy and jealousy. In jealousy, for instance, God Himself said He is a jealous God. You should, therefore, not ascribe to an idol the love meant for God. Between a husband and his wife, there could be jealousy. But when you have envy…Envy is a very demonic attribute of the carnal man where he does not wish you to have what you have been given by God.
In Gen. 26, God so blessed Isaac to the extent that he found water wherever he dug. But the Philistines were not happy that he prospered. They envied him. I didn’t know the details of this until years ago when the late Archbishop Benson Idahosa, a spiritual father, said: “Son, I notice that God had decided to do something in your life that would provoke envy.” I could not immediately say, ‘amen’. I wondered why anyone would be envious of what God has done in my life until I went into the scriptures and discovered that there are so many people who, in their carnal minds, would not wish you well. I had assumed that as Christians, people would be happy when God blesses you.
I have experienced it, like when people said: “How can Bishop Obembe be the one to bring Benny Hinn to Nigeria?” I suffered a lot of envy as a result of that. As a matter of fact, I was shocked. The first founding president of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN), the late Apostle Gboyega, was in Atlanta when Benny Hinn said he was coming to Nigeria. After the meeting, he told me that pastors in Nigeria are going to fight me for bringing Benny Hinn for an evangelistic crusade. I was shocked. He said they would not be happy. I knew what I suffered. I could not believe it. I did not commit adultery; I only organised a crusade. You are probably aware of the challenges of bringing a man like Benny Hinn to Nigeria. They didn’t talk about the souls that were saved or people that were healed. All they talked about was that money was spent.
So, human beings will always misbehave, especially when money or power is a feature. It is so painful because these were people who ought to have known better. In my study, I was shocked to find out how David in the Bible was persecuted. Joseph’s brothers also persecuted him. It’s like the pyramid of life; there is one vacancy up there that gives you visibility and unusual privileges. Meanwhile, there are so many people at the bottom of the pyramid. And they are envious. Some are naturally envious. Worse still, in our Christian communities today, you find churches praying against other churches. You find a brother praying against another brother. Why? This is not the Christianity Jesus gave us. It’s amazing to learn that some people go to mountains to pray against other churches. I don’t want to mention names. But I’m telling you what happens. Some people even use occult powers against their Christian brothers. Why?
That you found one person who is bad does not mean the entire body of Christ is. For instance, of the 12 disciples of Jesus, only one person, Judas, was evil. People come to church, these days, not because they want to worship God; they come with different motives. People assume that every spiritual leader is morally bankrupt. It is not so. God still has His remnant. We always assume that men of God are infallible. It is wrong. The grace of God in our lives makes the difference. We have assumed that everybody would be happy with our progress but it not so.
‘Envy, Jealousy Are Evidence Of Immaturity’
(Most Rev. Emmanuel Egbunu, Archbishop of Lokoja)
THE first thing to say is that this alarm about envy and jealousy (let’s take them as one) in the Church is right, but it should not be a surprise. The next thing to say is that its occurrence in the Church, which should model godly virtues, does not legitimise it or make it right. But we need a right understanding of the identity of the Church to be able to put these blemishes in proper perspective.
The Church is both a divine and human institution: divine because it is the assembly of God’s redeemed people, both in the Old Testament and in the New. We read soon after the Exodus event, and just before God gave the 10 Commandments that God told the people, in Exodus 19:4-6: “You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now, therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” The Lord Jesus also said in Matthew 16:18: “…I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
The Church is also called, “The Body of Christ,” especially by Apostle Paul in 1Corinthians 12:27, Ephesians 4:12, etc. But the Church is also composed of human beings at different stages of transformation. Some hold church membership as a family tradition; and some, through a definite encounter with the truth of the gospel. This is called ‘being regenerated’ or ‘born again’. From then on, people learn to make their lives conform to the standards of God. No one ever becomes perfect on earth, but surely every true Christian becomes more like Jesus, through the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit.
Jealousy and envy are listed among the works of the flesh in Galatians 5:19-21: “Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” But for all these vices, the same passage also provides an alternative in Galatians 5:22-26: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such, there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.” If the Bible is so clear about these things, no man, however highly placed in the Church, can invalidate these standards. Anyone who calls himself a child of God or a minister of the gospel cannot claim any Biblical support for jealousy or envy. These works of the flesh rule our lives when we are not content with what God has blessed us with. When people do not seek to know what God has blessed them with, but want to be what others are, jealousy and envy take over. This is also because some ministers have used their spirituals gifts for personal enrichment and luxurious lifestyles, rather than exalting Christ and being a blessing to His people. Envy and jealousy among servants of God is a display of spiritual immaturity, and God will call every man to account, especially because such display misleads the members and does not edify the Church. We must learn from John the Baptist who, when told that Christ was becoming more famous than himself, replied: “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30). Sometimes, envy and jealousy are caused by followers, rather than by men of God.
‘Vices Extremely Dangerous, May Instigate Murder’
(His Eminence Dr. Samuel Chukwuemeka Kanu Uche, Prelate, Methodist Church Nigeria (MCN)
DON’T forget, it’s humans in the house of God, not angels. Human beings are prone to envy and jealousy. When you say God is jealous, it means He doesn’t want anybody to take His place.
Envy is dangerous; it can lead to killing. It depends on your relationship with Christ. If Christ is in you, there will be a change; everything about you will be new. But if you don’t have Christ then it’s a pity. All you might be doing is pretense and hypocrisy. Christ is the one who enables a Christian to live up to the standard of His calling. So, it depends on your relationship with Christ. Christ in you will not allow you to engage in envy or allow you to walk in jealousy.
Why did Judas Iscariot envy Jesus? Why did Cain kill his brother, Abel? It’s human life, as I told you. The only thing that can bring change in somebody’s life is Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. But when that is not there, there will be envy and jealousy. So, the root cause can be: ‘I want to be better than you’. The most dangerous is envy; that is bitterness. You know that not all in the house of God are born again or believers. Jesus said, ‘Not all that call Me Lord, Lord will inherit the kingdom of God but those who do my Father’s will.’ Is it everybody in the Church that does the Father’s will? I don’t think everybody does the Father’s will. Who are the people who steal? Who are the people who commit adultery? Who are the people who fornicate? Who are the people who manipulate figures? Who are the people who falsify their ages? And when you go to the prisons, you will see people who answer Christian names, Muslim names, and so on. They go to churches and mosques but they are engaged in crimes. So, the hood does not make the monk. The ideal thing is that one who goes to church or mosque should be a transformed person. But we have not had it like that in our country, Nigeria. And that is why we will continue to preach and pray that people would change and come to God.
What leads somebody to heaven is not your personal work but God’s act of grace. He has finished the work of salvation. And through his Son, Jesus Christ, He is only waiting for our response. When we respond, we appropriate the benefits of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. When we don’t, we have ourselves to blame. The Bible says that God commended His love toward us that while we were sinners Christ died for the ungodly. So, the ungodly that goes to church will become godly through Christ. It is Christ, not the righteousness of our hands; it is Christ that keeps on transforming us. There are role models from the house of God. I’m not trying to boast.
‘PFN, CAN Helpless Over Twin Evils’
(Bishop (Prof.) Iroelekanya Cyriacus Uwanaka, General Overseer, The Pentecostal Restoration Church, Mafoluku, Oshodi, Lagos)
PEOPLE from the world populate the Church. They come with different characters. Many come with envy and jealousy. We have drunkards and smokers, and as we preach the word of God to them, some hear it and are transformed while others hear and remain the same.
Talking about envy, I think that is quite serious in the sight of God. But why should one man of God envy another man of God? Why should a pastor envy another pastor or a general overseer envy his assistant pastors? Why should pastors envy their church members? Sometimes, you find a pastor envying a church member who just bought a car or built a house and has invited the pastor for a dedication. Why? Even choir members envy one another. You hear things like, ‘the music director doesn’t want me to sing again. He allows sister Xyz to sing all the time.’ But that is a small part of it. Imagine a situation where a pastor is invited to minister in another church and because of the population he sees there, he becomes envious of the man of God that invited him. A lot of things happen when you go out to preach in other churches. Some people wait to see the type of car you came with, and that becomes the subject of envy. These things are taken too far. They are bottled up in the heart, and after a while, are spoken out or acted. It is terrible.
Holiness is key for anybody wishing to go to heaven. Unfortunately, many pastors have jettisoned this. They don’t even talk about it; it’s never preached in most churches today. All they do is open the Bible and preach what they want people to hear. Jealousy and envy have eaten so deep into the fabric of churches. A pastor from the headquarters goes to a branch to preach and finds that members in that branch bought a car for their pastor. The visiting minister, who might be the general overseer, becomes envious, and says: ‘so, you bought a car for the branch pastor and didn’t buy for me, the overseer.’
Serious things are happening in the area of envy and jealousy. If there is a body that can check it, call people to order, I think it will help to sanitise the system. But PFN or the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) is helpless in such matters. Some of us are helpless. Even at high levels, they don’t see it as anything. s
‘Prove Worshippers Are Human, Not Angels’
(Arc. Taofeek Olawunmi Agbaje, President Jama-at-ul Islamiyya of Nigeria And Overseas)
FIRST and foremost, what is envy? What is jealousy? You can hardly separate them. From the beginning, envy and jealousy have been big sins. The Almighty made Adam. The children of Adam started with envy and jealousy. That is what brought about this topic. Cain had to kill his brother, Abel. It is there in both religions – Islam and Christianity. It shows this is a very serious sin in the sight of the Almighty. It is one of the main causes of crimes. Once it starts, you can hardly stop it. And so, if you look at the creation of human beings, the first killing was basically out of envy. We all know the story of how the two brothers offered sacrifice to God, and how one was accepted and the other was rejected.
Now, why do we have envy and jealousy in the house of God? It shows that the people in the church or mosque are simply human, and that this sin has to be taken away from them. People are wondering, ‘how can a pastor or imam be jealous of another pastor or imam?’ The fact is that the imam or pastor is not an angel.
In Islam, it is specifically mentioned that it is a serious sin to even suspect, talk little of envying, a Muslim brother. As a Muslim, when you see a Muslim brother and you are able to greet him in the Islamic way, you must believe him. You must trust him. And when you trust and believe somebody, you don’t have to envy him. A lot of people are interested in material things. The root of all jealousy is money, the acquisition of material wealth and nothing more. There is a lot jealousy and envy in worship centres. The leaders, pastors and imams, should know that the time we have to spend in this world is very short. When we begin to teach the right things in our churches and mosques, envy and jealousy will fade away.
Why do we say we are born again or true Muslims and yet things are like this, even getting worse by the day? One of the major characteristics of a believer is relationship with his fellow human being. Islam says you must be very good in your home, you must be very nice in your community, and you must be good to your country. You cannot be a good minister and be terrible at home. It doesn’t make any sense in Islam. Being a true Muslim starts with relationship with your neighbour or people around you. God is going to judge us by our relationship with others. If you are a believer and you do badly to a believer, you will be punished. Because I’m a good Muslim and the other fellow is an idol worshipper, I should not kill him or deny him his right. You are not a believer if you do so. A good Muslim believer or a born again Christian must be a good person. All religions claim to follow their leaders. Someone says, ‘I want to be like Jesus’. But Jesus did not discriminate. He was a blessing to everybody. The same applies to Islam.
‘They’re Terrible Diseases Ravaging The Body Of Christ’
(Pastor Isaac Adeyemi, Senior Pastor, Embrace International Assembly, lkorodu, Lagos)
ENVY and jealousy are two of the most terrible diseases ravaging the body of Christ today. They are so rampant that you find them at every level in the Church. These are manifestations of carnality among believers. The reason for the reign of envy and jealousy in the Church of God is not far-fetched. Most Christians no longer live by the dictates of the Holy Spirit. Many Christians today are carnal. They yield more to the flesh than they do to the Spirit of the living God. The Bible enjoins us not to be jealous of one another: “So then, stop doing anything to hurt others. Don’t lie anymore, and stop trying to fool people. Don’t be jealous or say bad things about others.”(1 Peter 2:1 ERV). A lot of pastors have deviated from the message of the Cross and do not even practice what they preach! Believers in Christ have given the devil room to come into their midst because of their quest for power, position, authority and people’s recognition.
To this end, brothers and sisters expose themselves to all sorts of ridicule, and pastors engage in campaigns of calumny against one another. This is a result of lack of trust in God. We want to be like the other person and covet the gift of God upon their lives without realising that we are unique and are called to fulfill a different purpose.
The way forward is to go back to God. The Scripture says: “And if my people who are called by my name become humble and pray, and look for me, and turn away from their evil ways, then I will hear them from heaven. I will forgive their sin and heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14 ERV). It’s high time we kicked the devil and carnality out from our midst, and focus on what the Word of God says. If anyone feels another brother or sister is doing well in any way, you should thank God, support and encourage such a person. Pray to God and work hard if you wish to attain that height too. You could even seek counsel from such a person to know the secrets of his success. This should be done with sincerity of heart. This is surely a better way to go, before God, than envy and jealousy. We should stand out positively in our world today, such that we are seen as light, rather than allow worldliness take over our souls. The Bible says: “In the same way, you should be a light for other people. Live so that they will see the good things you do and praise your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16 ERV) God Himself will reward and restore us when we turn back to him.
They Hasten Self-destruction’
(Dr. Kenneth U. Idiodi, Grand Administrator & Director, Supreme Board, Rosicrucian Order, AMORC)
IT is interesting to observe that many forms of ill-health are attributed to long or intense expressions of jealousy. Let us analyse jealousy itself as an emotion or passion. First, it is not something we can attribute exclusively to human beings. For jealousy, like love, will be found among animals, and sometimes leads to treacherous actions, breaking down highly developed attributes, which the animal has acquired through years of training. In fact, animal trainers have little fear of the most ferocious of animals, as long as they have no jealousy. There seems to be something destructive and uncontrollable in jealousy that knows no law, listens to no reason, and will not be restrained even when the effects are self-destructive. It is, therefore, one of the most powerful of the destructive emotions in animals who have the ability to reason or think. Jealousy is born of desire and, therefore, is dependent on some degree of analytical reasoning, but the reason is always erroneous for it is based on a false premise and is obsessional in its effect.
This desire is to possess. The highest emotion is love, and the greatest good done by man is through the impulses of love. Yet, love itself can create expressions of opposite passions, to give and to share what one loves, and to own, possess, and control that which one loves. One is wholly unselfish, finding its pleasure and happiness in the joy of others. The other is purely selfish, even miserly. It seeks no happiness from the desire but is willing to see others suffer and even to bring suffering on oneself in order to satisfy the desire to possess.
One form of love is harmonious with cosmic law. Undoubtedly, the highest and most sublime emotion of the Divine Consciousness of God is that of love, which has resulted in the establishment of laws and the action and reaction of these laws in a manner beneficial to man. When this divine emotion reflects itself in man, it makes him unselfish, sympathetic, and joyful, for he too finds the greatest happiness in life through loving and sharing that love. This is manifested in the tendency to want to have others love what we love and enjoy that which brings us happiness and love. Most of the beautiful things created by man have been produced under the impulse of love and man’s desire to share with others that which he loves. Jealousy, on the other hand, is a reversal of all of this. It is born of a selfish desire to possess and to keep to oneself that which is loved. The fire of jealousy is fanned into greater heat by the very thought that the thing which is loved is likely to be shared by others. Therefore, jealousy is not a part of love or the true opposite of love. Hatred is the opposite of love, but even hatred will not react upon the individual physically and mentally, as does jealousy.
A person who is affected by jealousy is constantly throwing the entire psychic and physical system of the human body out of harmony with cosmic rhythm. This alone would be sufficient to produce ill health. But the continuation of this emotion leads to many forms of mental reactions, which tend to break down mental stability and integrity. In addition to the effect on the physical body, the mind is weakened in its integrity and resistance. To feel jealousy and express it in any form is sure to start the progress of destruction in the physical and mental body of man. It is an insult to the object of desire and to the love that is supposed to be the foundation of the jealousy. When jealousy begins to manifest in destructive ways, the mind begins to weaken in its rationalism and in its ability to comprehend things in their true light. From this moment on, the jealous person is “possessed of evil spirits” and is in truth controlled by one of the darkest forces of the world of evil. Real love is gracious and kind, seeking to be harmonious with the universal love of God. It seeks not to possess the object of its love nor to limit and restrict being loved by others, but finds happiness and peace in the knowledge that all enjoy that which is worthy of being loved. When a man loves a women deeply enough, there can be no jealousy, for love is kind, harmonious, and unselfish. If the man seeks to own and control the object of his love and becomes jealous because he cannot do this, he is transmuting the goodness of his life into the evil of his selfish desires. Any attempt to restrict love by dominating and limiting it will be sure to destroy it, for love is extensive and ever-increasing. It must be unselfish to remain free of the destructive elements. These great emotions are of two classifications: those, which are harmonious with the cosmic laws, and those that are contrary to them. Until man rises above the one and attains glorification in the other, he cannot be truly happy and approach a spiritual kingdom.