Green Eyed Monster (Acts 17:5-9)

But the Jews which believed not, moved with envy, took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar, and assaulted the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people.” (Acts 17:5, AV)

The phrase “Green Eyed Monster” seems to have been first coined by William Shakespeare in “The Merchant of Venice.” The term was used to denote jealousy. One thought is that green is a color associated with illness. Jealously is a type of sickness that can wreak havoc in the lives of people.

As a pastor, I had many opportunities to do marital and pre-marital counselling. One of the problems I very often encountered was that of jealousy. It was a situation where one person was jealous. The person would constantly trail the other and be upset if anyone paid attention to their spouse. They would be upset with any conversation that the other person had with another of the opposite gender. It could cause anger and arguments.

I also saw jealousy at play in the context of church ministry. Sunday school teachers saw other classes growing when theirs did not. This caused jealousy among the teachers. I admit, when I saw other churches growing when we were in a season where we had plateaued, there was an amount of jealousy that arose in me.

In this verse, the word “envy,zeloz, refers to a strong feeling of resentment due to envy and jealousy. When Paul contended in the Synagogues that Jesus was the Messiah, many came to believe in Jesus. The Jews, seeing people come to faith in Jesus, were provoked to envy, that is jealousy. They were diseased by the “Green Eyed Monster.” The result was that they stirred up a riot in Thessalonica.

When we look at what these Jews did, we can see some of the pitfalls that could be seen in our lives if we do not keep jealousy in check. Jealous people can form factions by gathering people around them to be alienated against others, which will create strife and division (v5). Jealousy can cause people to attack not only the one of whom they are jealous, but also others who are associated with that person (v6-7). Jealous people also will bring false accusations against the person of whom they are jealous (v7).

Jealousy, if left unchecked can lead to serious adverse situations. James wrote, “For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work” (James 3:16, AV). We must realize that in our old nature there is a predisposition to be jealous. The “Green Eyed Monster” can manifest itself in a variety of ways and this disease will not only hurt the one who is jealous, but others as well. We must be aware of the seriousness of the issue and seek the cure so that we can stop the spread of infection.

What is the cure? It is threefold. First it is identification of the problem. We must know and admit it when we become envious or jealous of others. Second, we must confess this as sin to God (1 John 1:9). Third, we must repent from this attitude, that is to purpose in our mind a different way to look at the one that has provoked the jealousy. Every case is different, but one of the ways I have found to combat this in ministry is to rejoice in another’s kingdom successes and pray for God’s continued blessings for them. In any case, do not let the “Green Eyed Monster” destroy you or others.

Published by Steve Hankins, Th.D.

Steve has had extensive military, business and ministry experience. He has served for over 16 years in full time vocational ministry and many years of part time ministry in churches. He has led churches through start-up and recasting of vision. Now He resides on the Outer Banks of North Carolina where he is working to help smaller churches and believers to renew their hearts and regain the joy of the Lord.

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