Proverbs 4: 23
Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.
This week we've been think about jealousy and the impact negative emotions can have in our lives.
When we get jealous or envious of someone else, we tend to think the problem is with them. We see them as being 'up there' and we’re 'down here'. Therefore if we can’t get up there to be like them or have what they have, there’s only one alternative and that is to bring them down to our level, tear them down, bring them down a peg or two. And so we might gossip about them, be sarcastic to them, be negative and critical towards them or continually point out their faults - little digs and jibes here and there.
Instead of thinking the problem is with them - who is the one we should really be dealing with? It’s ourselves isn’t it? I’m the one with the problem.
In this story, David isn’t the one with the problem. He’s just doing the right thing. Saul has the issues and getting rid of David might seem like the solution but it doesn’t deal with the root of the problem which is Saul’s heart.
So what can we do?
(i) Guard Your Heart: Proverbs 4:23 says this: “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”
When the bible talks about your heart it’s not talking about the organ that pumps blood around your body. It’s talking about the core of your being, who you are deep within, your emotional centre. And it says: 'Guard your heart.' What does a guard do at an entrance? He checks everyone going in and stops those people who have no right to enter. So when it says, 'Guard your heart', what that means is - Don’t just let anything into your heart. Just because you have a negative thought about someone or an emotional reaction to something, that doesn’t mean you have to allow it to become part of you. You can keep your heart free from pollution of anger, jealousy and resentment. Or as 2 Cor 10:5 says: “Take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
(ii) Be Controlled by God's Spirit:
Galatians 5 says: “So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. The acts of the sinful nature are obvious:..... hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy..... But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (16-23)
At any one moment we are controlled by one thing: our sinful nature, or the Holy Spirit. You cannot be controlled by both at the same time. Your emotions are either under the control of the Holy Spirit or your sinful nature.
When you read this story you see this stark contrast in Saul and David. Saul was completely controlled by the sinful nature and David was controlled by the Holy Spirit.
It amazes me that in all that we read about Saul and his actions towards David, we never see David retaliating. He doesn’t pick up the spear and throw it back. He doesn’t try to undermine Saul, he doesn’t, try to overthrow him as King. He actually remains loyal and honours Saul for the rest of Saul’s life. He somehow manages to keep his heart free from all anger and bitterness and resentment. How does he do it?
I think it comes back to what we have learned about David all along – He is a man after God’s own heart. All that matters to David is what God thinks of him – not what Saul or anyone else think of him. He knows that God is in control, and so he doesn’t have to get revenge or try to take advantage of the situation – all he has to do is stay close to God.
(iii) Celebrate Other People's Successes:
“Jonathan spoke well of David to Saul his father and said to him, ‘Let not the king do wrong to his servant David; he has not wronged you, and what he has done has benefited you greatly. He took his life in his hands when he killed the Philistine. The LORD won a great victory for all Israel...” (19:4-5)
As Saul’s son, Jonathan could very easily have been threatened by David’s success. After all, Jonathan was the prince – he was maybe next in line to the throne. But instead of being threatened by David and jealous and envious of him, Jonathan recalls what a great victory David won against Goliath, he celebrates David’s courage.
The best way that I have found to not be jealous and envious of other people is to verbally celebrate with them when something good happens to them.
The bible says rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn. Celebrate other people, celebrates God’s blessing on their lives, celebrate their hard work and success, celebrate when something goes well for them.
(iv) Find Freedom from Sinful Emotions
There comes a point where we need to admit to ourselves that we have a problem with a particular emotion or behaviour. When something has gone from being – 'This is something I feel now and again' – to - 'This is how I feel all the time.'
By allowing thoughts and emotions to fester and grow inside us we may have given the devil a foothold in our lives and we find that we feel powerless to stop it. We no longer control the anger or jealousy – it controls us.
That’s where we need to seek help. That’s where prayer ministry comes in. That’s where courses like Freedom in Christ come in. That’s where meeting with a Christian counsellor or some other professional can help.
I did a course a few years ago which had a 3 step process for helping people deal with this type of negative behaviour:
REPENT: We come before God and acknowledge or sin, sincerely tell God of our desire to be free from it, and ask for God’s forgiveness for allowing it into our lives.
RONOUNCE: You renounce the hold that this sin has over you, making it clear that you no longer want it in your life. It is no longer welcome here.
BREAK: In the name of Jesus and by the power of Jesus’ blood, you break the hold that this sin has over you. It’s like breaking invisible chains that are holding you – that because of the cross of Jesus and the victory he won there, we have power in His name to be free from slavery to sin.
Gal 5:1 says: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.”
John 8:36 affirms this: “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”
And 1 John 3:8 also says: “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil's work.”
Determine to guard your heart, keep yourself free from jealousy, bitterness, anger and offense. And enjoy the life that God has planned for you, one which is full of his favour and goodness.