The Green-Eyed Monster

From One Leader to Another

Robert H. Pierson is president of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.

 

THE YOUNG MAN David had gallantly delivered Israel from the brash insults of the Philistine giant. Goliath was dead. A smooth, well-aimed stone, whirring from David's sling, put an end to the big man's threats to the armies of Israel. A new star would soon rise among Saul's army.

At first the king was pleased with this unsophisticated youth who wrought so mightily for Israel. "That same day, when Saul had finished talking with David, he kept him and would not let him return any more to his father's house." "David succeeded so well in every venture on which Saul sent him that he was given a command in the army, and his promotion pleased the ordinary people, and even pleased Saul's officers" (1 Sam. 18:2, 5, N.E.B.).*

But Saul's love and appreciation for this new star in Israel was short-lived. "David succeeded so well"—in fact, the youthful warrior succeeded too well for his sovereign's comfort. His newly gained success and popularity stirred new and evil emotions in the king's heart.

"At the home-coming of the army when David returned from the slaughter of the Philistines, the women came out from all the cities of Israel to look on, and the dancers came out to meet King Saul with tambourines, singing, and dancing. The women as they made merry sang to one another: Saul made havoc among thousands, but David among tens of thousands" (verses 6, 7).

Saul's reaction to David's success was instant. When he heard the women ascribing more praise to David than to himself, "Saul was furious, and the words rankled. He said, 'They have given David tens of thousands and me only thousands; what more can they do but make him king?'" (verse 8).

The result? "From that day forward Saul kept a jealous eye on David" (verse 9).

Unfortunately, professional jealousy did not disappear from the earth at Saul's death. It is very much alive in the world today, and upon rare occasions raises its evil head even among the ranks of God's ministers.

It is not easy to see someone else called to the large church that we hoped to pastor, or to see a fellow worker elected president of the conference when we were sure our talents had put us in line for the position. To control resentment at seeing someone else advance when we are passed over takes much of the grace of God.

Professional jealousy is an insidious thing. Worst of all, it does its nefarious work right in our own circle—among our own colleagues. You have never been jealous of the President of the United States or of your congressman. A blacksmith is not jealous of an eminent scientist, nor is a musician envious of a prizefighter. Professional jealousy usu ally stays within its own ranks. An athlete covets the talents of a more successful athlete. An artist is envious of a fellow artist, and—sad, sad to say—the preacher may be jealous of a fellow preacher.

"Envy and jealousy," Ellen White says, "are diseases." And what is more, she declares that these diseases "dis order all the faculties of the being." —Our High Calling, p. 234. A jealous person is a sick person, and that illness is likely to afflict "all the faculties of the being." If this be true, we need to get rid of its baleful effects as soon as possible.

The antidote? Love! The love of Christ for those with whom we serve will sweep away every vestige of jealousy. We will rather glory in the success of our col leagues when Jesus reigns supreme in our lives!

Honestly, now, have you ever heard the green-eyed little monster whispering to you, attempting to create within your heart envy or jealousy toward someone in your circle who had surpassed you, who had succeeded where you had hoped to achieve? Have you ever been guilty of keeping a jealous eye on a fellow worker? If so, then "let the Holy Spirit come in and expel this unholy passion." —Ibid.

Note:

From The New English Bible. © The Delegates of the Oxford University Press and the Syndics of the Cambridge University Press 1970. Reprinted by permission.


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Robert H. Pierson is president of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.

November 1977

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