You’ve probably heard that "comparison is the thief of joy.” As cliche as it sounds, it’s true. Jealousy robs us of life when we compare our lives to others, so we end up missing out. In this message, we look at Matthew 20 to learn where the deeper problem of jealousy comes from so we can put an end to it before it becomes deadly.
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to The Porch. If we haven't met, my name is JD. We are so glad you are here. We have been going through a series called Seven Deadly Sins. We've been talking about different things that people have just said, like, "Hey, we know all sins are equal, but these seven sins, if you let them rule your life, dictate your life and how you live, it can end catastrophically for you."
We've talked about anger, pride, greed, lust, so many different things, and we are finishing strong tonight with the deadly sin of jealousy. Right off the bat, a lot of people in this "seven deadly sins" talk… Some say it's envy. Some call it jealousy. I'm going to mix the two together. I'll be saying jealousy a lot tonight, but I just want to define what those things are clearly for us.
Envy or jealousy, right off the bat, is a feeling of discontentment caused by someone else's possessions, qualities, or luck. That's how people in the world today define jealousy: a feeling of discontentment caused by someone else's possessions, qualities, or luck. Basically, what that means in casual language is when someone else has something we want or desire, we look at what we have and what they have, and there's this angst we have toward them that builds up. That is jealousy.
I was thinking about this. Over the Fourth of July weekend I was looking at Instagram, and I was like, "There it is." If you want to find a jealous JD, invite him to the lake, because that is when all of the insecurities in me come out. If anyone has been to a day at the lake… We've all been there. We've all seen it. You get there. It seems like every dude just can't wait to take off their shirt. I can't wait to keep mine on. Everyone is taking a thousand pictures.
I'm always the one guy with his shirt on, like, "What's up?" It's the worst thing ever. Everyone is hugging, and you're like, "Oh, this is so weird because we're all in our swimsuits." I am just this pit of insecurities, but I'm also looking around at everyone and examining what they look like, and I'm secretly judging people. I'm like, "Just look at them. They work out so much, apparently. They want everyone to see." I'm just infested with jealousy toward people. Some of them I don't even know.
But then it gets worse. A lot of us will get out on the boats, and I'm the guy who's sitting over to the side. I'm drinking my Waterloo. The music is playing. The guys are like, "Let's get the wakeboard out," and I'm like, "Oh God, not the wakeboard." They get it out. I've never wakeboarded before. I'm more of a tubing guy. I'm over here like, "I'll chill until the tubing segment comes along. That's when I'll show off my skills."
The guys start wakeboarding. Even a couple of the girls get up, and then the inevitable happens. There's always that guy, and he's usually the sporty guy, who's like, "Hey, JD, why don't you give it a try? Get out there. Give it a go." I'm like, "Oh, no. It's fine. Let's make this day about y'all." Everyone is like, "JD! JD!" and I'm like, "Ugh." So, I get out there reluctantly. You know how it goes. You're supposed to sit back and hold the thing, and then they're like, "Are you ready?" and you're like, "Yeah. Sure."
Every single time, if you've never wakeboarded, you hit the water. People are like, "Oh, it's your first time." Then the tenth time gets along, and you're getting more shaky and tired. You've absorbed so much water, and your life is just miserable. So eventually, you throw in the towel. You give up. You get back on the boat. And there's always that guy. For me, it was one of my dearest friends. His name is Kylen. Kylen is the guy. He has the perfect hair. He has the wife. He has the looks. He has the bod. He's just ripped beyond imaginable belief.
He is like, "I guess I'll go now." He's the one who has been driving the boat, looking all cool. Kylen gets out there, and he's one-handed, like, "All right. Let's go." Kylen gets up perfectly. He's just soaring. It's like he's gliding across the water. He's like, "All right. Spin it sharp!" and you're like, "No, he's not. No, he's not." All of the cameras are out on Kylen. I'm sitting at the front of the boat just mad…shirt back on, by the way. He just jumps the wake, and everyone is like, "Kylen! Kylen!" and I'm like, "Kylen."
That is what jealousy does. Someone I love I'm now feeling some type of way toward. He's just doing his thing. He has wakeboarded all of his life, and it's just fun to him, but for me, I was having no fun, because that's the power of jealousy. Jealousy can destroy us from the inside out. It can take something that was once beautiful and united and divide it and rip it apart. It can take someone you once loved, and it can form hatred. Jealousy can rob us of so much life.
So many relationships, so much joy and peace and happiness, jealousy will rip us from. Proverbs 27:4 goes as far as to say, "Anger is cruel, and wrath is like a flood, but jealousy is even more dangerous." God's Word says, "Hey, those other guys have nothing on jealousy. Jealousy is so dangerous." So, tonight, I'm glad we get to end talking about something that God clearly cares about.
I just want to do that by journeying through this story Jesus tells a crowd in the book of Matthew. What we're going to see here is Jesus is just sitting around with this crowd, and he's telling a parable, like I talked about a couple of weeks ago. He's just telling this story that's illustrating a deeper meaning and point. In this story, what we're going to see is three things about jealousy: first, how jealousy presents; secondly, who jealousy resents; and then, lastly, where jealousy relents.
I know some of you might be hearing that and are like, "Okay. That's a little bit of a stretch." You guys have no idea how hard it is to come up with rhymes and alliterations every single week. Actually, it wasn't me who thought of that one. It was David. So, if you have any problems and beef, email email@example.com.
"Where jealousy relents." I was like, "David, what does that mean?" It basically means ends or stops. Where jealousy ends or stops. But to keep us relevant and remembering, where jealousy relents. Grab your Bible. We're going to read a lot of Scripture tonight. Open up to Matthew 20, and we'll read verses 1-12 together.
"For the Kingdom of Heaven is like the landowner who went out early one morning to hire workers for his vineyard. He agreed to pay the normal daily wage and sent them out to work. At nine o'clock in the morning he was passing through the marketplace and saw some people standing around doing nothing. So he hired them, telling them he would pay them whatever was right at the end of the day. So they went to work in the vineyard.
At noon and again at three o'clock he did the same thing. At five o'clock that afternoon he was in town again and saw some more people standing around. He asked them, 'Why haven't you been working today?' They replied, 'Because no one hired us.' The landowner told them, 'Then go out and join the others in my vineyard.' That evening he told the foreman to call the workers in and pay them, beginning with the last workers first.
When those hired at five o'clock were paid, each received a full day's wage. When those hired first came to get their pay, they assumed they would receive more." I mean, it makes sense. They'd been there longer. "But they, too, were paid a day's wage. When they received their pay, they protested to the owner, 'Those people worked only one hour, and yet you've paid them just as much as you paid us who worked all day in the scorching heat.'"
It's a totally valid argument. These workers have been there all day since the morning working in the heat. They didn't have water fountains back then. They're sitting there going, "Hey, we're thirsty. We're tired. We're hot. We've been working all day, and you've been giving these people who got here at the end of the day just as much money as you've given us."
I can even read that and be like the crowd members at the time, going, "Hey, Jesus, that doesn't seem very fair. That seems really unjust for the landowner to give everyone the equal amount of pay even though some worked harder than others." What's funny is we don't just meet someone and immediately we're like, "I'm jealous of you." Maybe sometimes, but a lot of times, we need to pin it on a reason or something that seems unfair or something that just seems off and creates something within us that causes us to be jealous of a human.
For these people, it was more circumstantial. They looked at them and were like, "Hey, it's not fair that the landowner is treating them and blessing them for something I don't think they deserve." Look at verse 10. "When those hired first came to get their pay, they assumed they would receive more. But they, too, were paid a day's wage."
Then skipping down to verse 12, their response to that was: "Those people worked only one hour, and yet you've paid them just as much as you paid us who worked all day in the scorching heat." That's what jealousy causes us to do. Jealousy causes us to fixate on people and make people the problem.
1 . How jealousy presents. How jealousy presents itself is through comparison. These people looked at their work and the time they put in, and they expected more. Once they compared their work to the amount of the other people's work, it didn't line up for them, and it created angst and jealousy from them toward the other workers.
You see, the real issue isn't what we have. It's not about exactly what I have. It's not even about, a lot of times, what others have. It's what I have inlight of what others have. When I begin to weigh what I have versus what other people have…aka comparison…that's when jealousy starts to form in my heart. When we start to compare, when we start to look at people and make them a problem, immediately there's going to be separation and division.
We're going to start to look at their job and go, "Well, I wish I had that job" or we're going to look at how they're debt-free or how they got a scholarship in college, and it's like, "Well, I'm piling up in credit card debt and all different types of debt." We're going to look at Instagram and scroll and see relationships and be like, "How come they get to be in a relationship? I've waited my whole life for someone. I have protected myself, and I still don't have a relationship."
We're going to look at all of these different things and start to compare…me versus them, my problems versus their problems, my hair versus their hair, my pay versus their pay, my followers versus their followers, my relationships and my people versus their relationships and their people. It's this constant battle that robs and steals and robs and steals, and it all comes through comparison, which is what fuels jealousy.
You have to see that jealousy is like a blinder. It causes you to fixate on things and make you think they're the problem, but they're not actually the problem. The problem is you're comparing yourself to people you shouldn't be comparing yourself to. It's like this. Let's say we were all here in the house and I said, "Hey, I want to call up someone. There are three jars here. Each has a prize inside of them. All you have to do is open up a jar, and you get whatever is inside. You are the lucky winner."
Let's say it's you. You come up here, and you're thinking about it. There's not much strategy to it. There's not much you can do. All you have to do is take a pick and be the lucky winner. You're going to win something. Let's say you're thinking about it, and you're like, "Okay. I pick this one." And what do you know, you win a Benjamin. You get $100 on The Porch. You're like, "Oh my gosh! This is the best day ever." I bet the crowd would be like, "Nice! Okay. A hundred bucks." You're feeling like a winner. You're like, "I made the right pick."
Then let's say I call up someone else, and let's say she comes up here. I'm like, "Okay. You have two options. You now get to pick whatever jar you want." You're walking away. You're like, "Man, I got $100. I made the right pick. I am good." But then she comes and she's like, "Okay. I'll pick the opposite side," and she opens it up, and she wins two free tickets to Hawaii, because The Porch has got it like that now. She gets to go on a vacation to Hawaii with someone she wants to go with.
Suddenly, the crowd erupts, and you're like, "What? Hawaii?" You're thinking, "Why didn't I pick the left one? I just got a hundred bucks." Suddenly, what was once something you were grateful for, was of value, is now nothing because you're comparing it to what the other person got. That moment, what was once filled with gratitude and joy, is now robbed because of comparison. That's what we do way more than we realize in our everyday lives.
I thought about this. A lot of times, I get jealous of people I don't even know. It's really easy to be sitting at home on a Friday night, and I'm super content. I'm chilling, watching something on TV, probably The Emperor's New Groove. I'm watching it, and I'm like, "Okay. Now I'll check Instagram." I'm on Instagram Stories, and I see one of my friends posted a story. I watch it, and they're out eating Mexican food, and this new guy I've heard about got invited.
Had they been eating I probably would have been fine not getting an invite, but how come New Guy got the invite and I didn't? I was completely content until I started comparing myself to New Guy. "I bet he thinks he's funny. I bet he's the one ruling the table right now. What's up with this new guy?" Suddenly, I have all of this built-up tension toward New Guy. New Guy has done nothing. He just got an invite to go eat. But now the next time I see New Guy… Let's call him Bobby. I'm tired of calling him New Guy.
Next time I see Bobby, Bobby is like, "What's up, man? I've heard a lot about you," and I'm like, "Yeah. Nice." I'm immediately so jealous of Bobby for something Bobby couldn't control. Just like the girl right here couldn't control the jar you picked. She just picked a jar as well. So many times, that's what comparison does. It makes people the problem, and it causes you to miss out on what God is trying to show you.
So, with all of this, when you realize you've been robbed, when you realize you've been taken the chance of having happiness in relationships, in peace, and you start to wake up to this reality that "People aren't the problem, and I should stop comparing," you have to address a deeper issue, which is the second point.
2 . Who jealousy resents. Jealousy will lead you to think the problem is people, but who jealousy actually resents… Let's see in the story what Jesus has to say. Verse 13: "He answered one of them, 'Friend, I haven't been unfair!'" Remember, they're saying to the landowner, "Hey, why are you giving these people the same money as us? We've done more work than them."
The crowd Jesus is telling this to is probably like, "Yeah, that really does seem unfair. They should get more money." This is what Jesus says. The landowner says, "Friend, I haven't been unfair! Didn't you agree to work all day for the usual wage? Take your money and go. I wanted to pay this last worker the same as you. Is it against the law for me to do what I want with my money? Should you be jealous because I am kind to others?"
Jesus anticipated the thoughts of the crowd, and he leaned into that and said, "Hey, you have to remember something. What people around you have been given…the success they've seen, the looks they have, the body type they have, the way they've climbed the corporate ladder, the way their family is, what they've been born into…had nothing to do with them. I get to dictate, and I am the one who is in control of what my children have, of what my people have."
Just the same way this landowner got to dictate what he did with his money, so God gets to dictate what he does with his people. So, when you communicate that you have an issue with what someone else has versus what you have and you're comparing yourself all the time, what you're actually communicating is that you are resenting God, not man.
Who does jealousy resent? Your Creator. You don't have a problem with creation. You actually have a problem with your Creator. That's what jealousy does. Think about it. So much of our lives, we look at other people's circumstances. I know, for me, I look at people who have the perfect family who eat dinner together every Sunday night and are gathering around and telling stories and laughing and have inside jokes and maybe make family TikToks.
I'm like, "God, why would you not give me that? Why would you not want that for me? You're the one who's in control." I had to remember God gets to do what he wants when he wants, and it's when I think I have a say when I get in trouble. I'm not content with what God has given me. I'm not interested in stewarding what God has given me; therefore, I resent him.
I think we say things like, "God, you didn't give me looks like you gave that person looks." Girls, you might say, "You didn't make my waist a size 2." "God, you didn't bless me with that family or with that financial situation or with that spouse or with those gifts, with that job. God, why did my parents be the parents who divorced? Why couldn't I have parents like theirs?"
I know, for me, a couple of weekends ago, I spent the weekend with all of my college roommates. They all have kids now. Some of them are on their second kid. They're all married, and they're sitting there with their spouses. I'm the only single guy. I've talked about that before, I think. It's clearly an issue. I'm like, "God, what's the deal, man? Why can't I be like them?"
I don't resent them. They met the one. They're doing their thing. They're living their life. Who I'm actually resenting is my Creator. I think a lot of us are there. We are upset with God. We would rather resent him and push him away and think he's out to get us or is withholding from us, that he wants to bless and favor other people and not make us as gifted or as successful. We think God is out to get us somehow. It's like we've forgotten all that he has done.
Think about this. What if I called up a third person, and what if they opened up the last jar and they got Starbursts? Not even Starbursts…the orange and yellow Starbursts, the worst of the worst. The lowest of these, you could say. Once they opened up their orange and yellow Starbursts, suddenly I'm like, "All right. Well, at least I didn't get the yellow and orange Starbursts. My hundred is starting to look a little bit better now. Mi Cocina on me tonight."
That is crazy, because at one time we were resentful because we didn't get the trip to Hawaii, but when we saw that we didn't get the Starbursts, we no longer resent but are grateful for the $100. I think a lot of us sit there with our lives…
It's easy to sit in your single apartment alone and look at the married couple with their first house and first car and Labradoodle and resent them and resent how God is moving and blessing their lives, but then when you sit and think what he has brought you out of and the job he has given you or how you're not homeless or left alone and the people who love you, resentment starts to turn into gratitude, and your perspective of what God is and who he is starts to change.
We have to stop resenting our Creator and trust that he is in control and knows what to do with his creation. For those of you who are coming in here and you're recognizing, "Wow! I thought I had a problem with people. I thought I was jealous of that guy or that girl. I thought I wanted that job. I thought I needed that much money, and I thought God just didn't hear me or care," I'm leaning in, and I want you to hear me say that that just isn't true. God loves you. More than anything, he loves you and cares about you.
I have to remind myself of this often, because I know that in my small, limited mind, I can forget to zoom out and see the bigger picture and just focus on what's right in front of me or the people right in front of me or the circumstances right in front of me and forget that God isn't taking something from me. He's not withholding something from me. He's not playing puppet master up there and just doing all of these crazy things to hurt me and harm me. No. He is a Father who is willing to give everything for me, who has given everything to me.
I have to think about the fact that God has taken me out of so much broken sexual sin and addiction. He has taken me out of the depression I felt after my dad passed away. He has taken me out of the misery I felt from heartache, and so many different things. When I sit and I open up my perspective and I become grateful for what God has taken me out of, I no longer resent him. I rest in him. I trust him.
That's what I'm calling you to do. Stop resenting God. Stop thinking that God is out to get you. He loves you. He wants to give you everything. But jealousy will do everything to not allow you to believe that. Here's what jealousy will do. It wants you to think God robs you of all of the things you want rather than gives you all of the things you truly need.
He knows you more than you know yourself. You might look out and see people and think, "I want that. I want that. I need that to survive. I need that to be happy. I need that to be joyful." You need to trust God. That's what we need: to rest in God. When we do that, the third point will start to happen.
3 . Where jealousy relents. Where jealousy ends and stops is when comparison turns to celebration. That is where jealousy ends: with celebration. Just take a moment to sit and think about all God has done in your life. Let celebration turn into gratitude and an awakening and a realization of "Oh my gosh! God is at work. He is doing something in my life." First Thessalonians 5:18 says, "Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus."
Think about the last time God clearly worked and moved in your life. Think about how grateful you were. "Thank you, God." You were telling everyone, "God gave me the job. God really pulled through. He heard my cry. I'm so grateful. I'm so thankful. Thank you, God! Thank you, God!" The more and more time from that moment that life goes on, you start to forget. Time separates, and no longer are you celebrating what God has done. You get back to comparing. You get back in your tunnel vision.
You start to think, "Things are out of my control. God, where are you at? God, where are you at?" You're not remembering what he did for you; therefore, your life is not informed by celebration or gratitude. It now goes back into the cycle of jealousy and anger and bitterness and resentment and comparison, and now you're all out of whack again. You have to fight these things by celebrating, by being grateful.
There are so many times in my life when I choose to be discontent over grateful. There are so many times where I let jealousy creep in and distract from what God is doing. There are so many times where he has blessed me with the $100 bill, and I'm going, "But I wanted the trip to Hawaii." I forget "Hey, you have taken me out of so much."
My encouragement to you would be: Don't run away. Don't shy away. Don't let jealousy cause division between you and people or you and God, but rather, turn jealousy, turn comparison, turn resentment into celebration and gratitude. I cannot stress this enough. It is a powerful weapon. The enemy of jealousy is out to rob you, but it will convince you that God is the thief. It'll convince you that God is taking, God is withholding.
So, how do you fight that? You remember what he has done, and you celebrate it. But when jealousy does lead you to compare and make people the issue or resent God, when it gets hard to celebrate… What I was thinking about was "What does this look like for me practically in my life? How do I do this? How am I practicing this?" This is always an encouraging thing for me to rework this value of celebration.
I had to sit and think. Behind every person I compare myself to is a story…a story of brokenness and mistakes just like me, a person who needs Jesus just like me, a person who needs the gospel just like me. I should go celebrate that. I should go lean in and hear their story and equalize them in my mind and watch how God has formed them.
When I start to see people made in the image of God, and when I start to see myself made in the image of God, it starts to be way easier to celebrate. I start to do things like texting and calling people just to tell them what I see in them and how proud I am of them. I recently, in quarantine, started sending selfie videos to people just to pump them up and tell them the work I see God doing in their life.
I make a list of my closest friends' birthdays to make sure I don't miss them and tell them what they mean to me, what their life means to me. More than anything, I sit and think about all that God has done in my life, and I celebrate him for who he is, and it changes me. It rids me of comparison, and it brings me the joy and peace in him that I'm looking for.
How do I stay grateful? I've recently charged myself to keep a running list of all of the things I'm grateful for. I spent time just today writing down more things. "God, thank you for my family I got to see over the Fourth of July weekend. Thank you that you've brought my mom a spouse who loves her and I got to meet my new stepsiblings. Thank you, God, that you've provided me community in my first year here in Dallas. I know a lot of people still feel alone. I don't deserve such amazing people in my life. Thank you for my job and my health."
Start off your prayers with thankfulness rather than asking, and it will change your perspective on who God is. You'll see jealousy start to lose its grip in your life. I know, for me, the longest stint where I saw jealousy own me was in my high school years where I became extremely jealous of my little brother. My little brother is 17 months younger than I am. He's way taller than I am, way more fit and athletic than I am, and all of high school, jealousy turned to hatred in my heart toward him.
The Bible talks about "How can you say you love God and have hatred toward your brother?" and I didn't. I chose to resent him and bully him and be mean to him. My relationship with him that was supposed to be leadership and love and stewarding him as my little brother… God entrusted me with a little brother. I missed it because I let jealousy divide and create hostility, and I missed so many opportunities.
Thank God, he has now moved to Dallas and we're trying to get weekly lunches where I can sit and mend all of the years of hurt and brokenness that I caused. If you hear anything, don't make the mistake I did. Don't let jealousy dictate your relationships. Don't let jealousy rob you of one more thing. A life with God does not look like robbing. It does not look like taking. It looks like giving love, grace, freedom, forgiveness, what we actually need.
The reality was I was not pleased with my reality growing up. Before Christ, I couldn't see what all he was doing in my life and what all he was orchestrating in my life. All I knew was I did not like my reality versus my brother's reality. Therefore, instead of loving him, I hated him. Because of that, I hated God. I was like, "God, why did you not make me more like him? God, why am I the band nerd? Why am I the guy no one takes seriously? Why can't I be more masculine and what society says makes a man? God, why did you make me the way you did?"
I resented God; therefore, I didn't have a relationship with him. I didn't understand what he was about, and I missed so many years that could have been so fruitful to jealousy. I missed the biggest reality. The most world-changing reality for every single one of us is that there is a form of jealousy that is righteous. There is a form of jealousy that is okay, and it is possessed by God.
God holds this form of jealousy. The Bible says in Exodus 34:14… This verse shook up my world this week. God was talking to his people, known as the Israelites, in the Old Testament, and he said, "You must worship no other gods, for the _ _ Lord , whose very name is Jealous, is a God who is jealous about his relationship with you."
As I looked into that, I could not believe… "Wait. You mean to tell me that the God who created the universe, the God who spoke and it was so, the God who sees me choose jealousy and comparison and resentment and resistance and anger and bitterness and frustration and not trust him and not come to him… He saw that I was going to do that, and he still is jealous of me?"
You might be sitting there thinking, "There's no way God would want me that badly. I know he loves me, but I don't think he likes me enough to be jealous of me, to really want my time. I think he's okay if I kind of half-heartedly give myself to him, if I read my Bible here and there, if I pray every now and then. I just don't think he's that concerned. He kind of has the world to take care of. There's a lot going on right now in 2020, if you haven't noticed. He's not worried about me."
I'm telling you that this says that God is jealous of you. He's so jealous of us. He wants our attention and our affections and our trust and our love so badly he would be willing to send his Son. He saw that we would get distracted. He saw that we would choose the world, but he said, "I want them so badly I'm going to send my only Son to die for them. That way I can be in relationship with them. I know they won't choose me all the time. I know they'll get distracted by other people in comparison. I know they're going to resent me, but I want them." He wants you.
That truth changed me. At the age of 19, when I woke up and realized that God loved me so much he sent his Son to die for me, that there was a Creator who wanted me that badly, I couldn't resist it. So, what I want to beg of you tonight…
If there's something you think God is doing that isn't fair, if he's giving of himself to the workers who haven't worked as hard as you or the people who haven't been through what you've been through and it seems like they're getting the acknowledgment and the credit and the love and the blessings and the favor that you think you deserve, I'm here to tell you that that is a lie from the Enemy. God loves you more than anything, so stop running. Stop resenting. Stop comparing. You are being robbed. Start trusting and start coming to that love. Let's pray.
Father, it really is mind-blowing that you would see our sin, that you would see our mistakes, that you would see our brokenness and choices, that we would choose other people, yet you still sent your Son to die for us. I don't know if my friends tonight are battling jealousy, if they're looking at other people's circumstances, if they're looking at other people and have forgotten that they are created in the image of God. I don't know what people are dealing with tonight, but what I do know is that no matter what it is, you love them. You love them so much you are jealous for them. You are a jealous God for his children.
So, I pray tonight, if there's anyone who does not believe they are worthy of your jealousy, if there's anyone tonight who does not believe they deserve that kind of love and trust and pursuit, that they would stop believing the lie that they have to do more or they've made too many mistakes and they would just open up their hands tonight and accept your love. For it's in that love, it's in your provision, it's in your goodness that we trust. May that be true of us tonight. Thank you for wanting us, amen.