Jaundice of the Soul

Bible Book: Proverbs  27 : 4
Subject: Jealousy; Selfishness; Attitude, Sinful

Proverbs 27:4

"Wrath is cruel and anger a torrent, but who is able to stand before jealousy?" (Proverbs 27:4, NKJV)

There is a fable of an eagle that could outfly another, and the other didn't like it. The latter saw a sportsman one day, and said to him: "I wish you would bring down that eagle." The sportsman replied that he would if he only had some feathers to put into the arrow. So the eagle pulled one out of his wing. The sportsman shot the arrow, but it didn't quite reach the rival eagle; it was flying too high. The jealous eagle pulled out more feathers, and kept pulling them out until he lost so many that he couldn't fly, and then the sportsman turned around and killed him. [25]

As appalling a tale as it is, it illustrates what has been called "the jaundice of the soul," Jealousy, the thing that turned this eagle into prey.

Proverbs 27:4 states, "Wrath is cruel and anger a torrent, but who is able to stand before jealousy?" One of the most detrimental emotions of all is jealousy. John Dryden called jealousy "The Jaundice Of The Soul." Shakespeare called it "the green-eyed monster."

Have you ever thought about the fact that jealousy crucified Jesus? Matthew 27:18 says that when Pilate had Jesus handed over to be crucified "he knew they had handed Him over because of envy." The first murder chronicled in history was when Cain killed his brother Abel, and it was all as a result of jealousy.

Understand that jealousy does destroy. It destroys marriages, it destroys families, and it destroys friendships. One of the devil's chief weapons to convert happiness into hostility is the curse of jealousy.

Oscar Wilde once told the story of how the devil was crossing the Libyan Desert when he met a number of people tormenting a holy hermit. They tried to involve the hermit in sins of the flesh, tempting him in every way they knew, but to no avail. The sainted man shook off all their suggestions. The devil then whispered to his workers. "What you do is too crude. Give me a chance to show you how." The devil told the holy man, "Your brother has been made bishop of Alexandria." And a scowl of malignant jealousy crept across the face of the hermit. "That," said the devil to his crew, "is the sort of thing I recommend." [26]

Jealousy is certainly a tough, eroding stain, but you can remove it if you will use the appropriate strategy.

I. Face The Problem Of Jealousy

Proverbs 27:4 in the New International Reader's Version reads, "Anger is mean. Great anger overpowers you. But who can face jealousy?" Jealousy is an unadulterated problem that everybody must face and must fight at some time or another. Jealously and envy are very similar and virtually identical, however there is a minor distinction. Jealousy is when you have all that you should have,  but you still want what someone else has. Envy is when you want something someone else has that you don't have. They might not be twin brothers, but they are indeed kissing cousins.

It is so easy to become jealous in a split second. Consider how the following circumstances can make a person jealous:

-Your classmate makes the baseball team, but you don't.

-Your coworker gets a raise at work, but you don't.

-Your neighbor purchases a nicer home, but you can't.

-Your best friend buys a brand new car that you can't afford.

In fact, jealousy can even plague the pastor who hears a better preacher, or visits a bigger church. That is one of the most complicated problems pastors face in our culture today. Many are so captivated with size that they suppose a pastor who has a bigger church must have a better church, though that is not necessarily the case. If the truth were told, the grass may look greener on the other side, but it is twice as hard to cut.

On the other hand jealousy is not only a problem at the pulpit, it is also a problem in the pew. There  is even jealousy between churches, of one church with regard to another. There is even denominational jealousy, where whole denominations may be jealous of another denomination because the other denomination is increasing in number but theirs is not. Believe me, it can happen.

There was a Baptist family who had a death in the family while their minister was out of town. They asked a minister of another denomination to conduct the funeral service. He said he would have to check with the bishop, so he wired him, "Can I bury a Baptist?" The bishop wired back and said, "Sure, bury all the Baptists you can!" [27]

Jealousy occurs so frequently when we begin to balance and compare ourselves with others. We compare our house to their house, our automobile to their automobile, our finances to their finances, and when that happens the dilemma is set in motion. You then start to think of yourself as less than what you actually are. Jealousy then begins to make you feel rather inadequate.

II. Flee The Poison Of Jealousy

Someone cleverly stated, "As iron is eaten by rust, so are the jealous consumed by jealousy." B.C. Forbes, the proprietor and editor of Forbes magazine, declared, "Jealousy...is a mental cancer." That is definitely ironic because Proverbs 14:30 says, "A sound heart is life to the body; but envy is rottenness to the bones." Now ponder for a moment what Solomon said. He says jealousy is "rottenness to the bones." Bones are on the inside of you. Thus, jealousy is a disease that will devour you from the inside out and ultimately obliterate you.

I read the story once about two shopkeepers were that bitter rivals. Their stores were directly across the street from each other, and they would spend each day keeping track of each other's business. If one got a customer, he would smile in triumph at his rival.

One night an angel appeared to one of the shopkeepers in a dream and said, "I will give you  anything you ask, but whatever you receive, your competitor will receive twice as much. Would you be rich? You can be very rich, but he will be twice as wealthy. Do you wish to live a long and healthy life?

You can, but his life will be longer and healthier. What is your desire?" The man frowned, thought for a moment, and then said, "Here is my request: Strike me blind in one eye!"

By the way, many times criticism is the external indication of an internal problem of jealousy. I read not too long ago that studies have continually found that we tend to attribute our own successes to positive internal traits such as ability and effort; and our failures to external factors outside of our control. But then again, we tend to attribute the successes of others to "luck," and their failures to inability, lack of perseverance, or some other personal shortcoming.

In effect, we blame our own failings on the situation, while taking credit for our successes, but we blame others failings on their personal attributes while discrediting their successes. [28] Why do we have that inclination? It is all a result of jealousy.

Once more, jealousy is a poison that will eventually take your life. History tells of a statue that was erected to celebrate the victory of the Grecian games. It so aroused the jealous hatred of the rivals that one of them sneaked out at night to topple the statue. He found it so heavy that he had to put quite an effort into rocking it back and forth. When he finally got it to topple, it fell the wrong way and crushed him to death.

Take into account that it might give you solace to downgrade other people because of your jealousy. It might shield you from the reality that you have not been able to achieve maybe what others have been able to achieve or accrue what they have been able to accrue. Yet in the end it will crush you to the breaking point.

However, the real trouble with jealousy is it will deprive you of the tranquility that you should have in your heart with the blessings of God in your own life. Rather than being happy for the other person whom God has blessed, you become apprehensive or annoyed or even angry. Therefore, you must flee the poison of jealousy before it steals away the joy God has given you.

III. Fight The Power Of Jealousy

I honestly believe the key to removing this hideous stain is given in Philippians 4:11, "Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content." If you truly believe you are where the Lord wants you to be; if you believe you are who the Lord wants you to be; if you believe you have what the Lord wants you to have; then you have no cause to ever be jealous of what       someone else has or who someone else is or where someone else is.

Do you realize what jealousy is? It is a revolt against God's sovereign control in your life. If you are jealous, what you are really saying is, God has no right to bless someone else more than He has blessed you.

We should all strive to be more like Moses. As many of you know, Moses was a man of God, and at one point God had multiplied his ministry by extending it to the lives of seventy elders who were given the gift of prophecy. Two of those elders, Eldad and Medad, were especially gifted and began to prophesy in the camp. A young man named Joshua came hurriedly to Moses and told him the news. He said to him, "Moses, my lord, forbid them!" And Moses replied, "Are you jealous for my sake? Oh, that all the Lord's people were prophets and that the Lord would put His Spirit upon them!" (Numbers 11:26-29, NJKV). Moses knew how to delight in the accomplishments of others.

Someone has suitably written, "It is a good test to the rise and fall of egotism to notice how you listen to the praises of other men of your own standing. Until you can listen to the praises of someone else without any desire to indulge in detraction, or any attempt to belittle his work, you may be sure there  is an un-mortified prairie of egotistic impulse in your nature yet to be brought under the grace of  God." [29]

I am confident that the solution to jealousy is satisfaction - just being satisfied with what you have, who you are, and where you are. A number of years ago there was a popular program called "The Goldbergs." In one episode, Jake Goldberg came home for supper and excitedly told his wife, Molly, about a great idea he had. He wanted to go into business. Molly had some money put away in anticipation of just such a thing, and she gave it to him. As they sat at the dinner table, enthusiastically discussing the future, Jake said, "Molly, some day we'll be eating off of golden plates!" Molly looked at him and replied, "Jake, darling, will it taste any better?"

Now Molly Goldberg's question illustrates a great point and it's this: There is nothing that will cure the jaundice of jealousy like being satisfied with who you are, where you are, and what you have, and being grateful to God that He has blessed you more than you ever deserved.


[25] D. L. Moody, "Moody's Anecdotes" (Chicago: Moody Press, 1898), 44-45.

[26] James R. Bjorge, "The Love Road to Calvary" (New York: Abingdon Press, 1982).

[27] Thomas Hankin, "Permission to Bury a Baptist." Accessed 21 November 2005 at http://www.newsbackup.com/about568366.html.

[28] Dennis McCallum, "The Death of Truth" (Minneapolis: Bethany House, 1995), 158. [29] Charles R. Swindoll, "Living on the Ragged Edge" (Dallas: Word Books, 1985), 214.