Two shopkeepers were 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!" One sign of jealousy is when it’s easier to show sympathy and "weep with those who weep" than it is to exhibit joy and "rejoice with those who rejoice." Why do some people misuse their privileges?
In this passage, Paul gives a historical survey of how Israel misused, abused and failed to take advantage of their God given privileges. He exhorts, "The God of this people Israel chose our fathers, and made the people great during their stay in Egypt and with an uplifted arm he led them out from it… God has fulfilled his promise to our children in that he raised up Jesus…
(Acts 13:17, 33, 41) says take heed therefore, so that the things spoken of in the Prophets may not come upon you. Behold, you scoffers, and marvel and perish."
Failure to take advantages of the privileges offered in Jesus Christ is a recipe for self-
Paul explains how the Jews failed to take advantage of their privileges because they misinterpreted the lessons of history. The children of Israel looked at their cycles in history but failed to learn God’s central teaching about their need for redemption in Christ. When Jesus appeared to them, they overlooked Him since they were expecting a politically power Messiah who would overthrow their Roman oppressors. Do not let your faulty preconceived notions cause you to miss out on what God is offering you. Be willing to admit your mistakes or your faulty perceptions. Ask the Lord to help you correctly interpret life’s lessons so you can humbly trust and obey all he wants you to learn.
Paul identified the scoffers as men who misapplied lessons taught to them by the prophets. Failure to learn from Godly people leads to an inability to take advantage of the rich reservoir of truth, blessings and guidance available through the Holy Spirit. Surely you do not want to be a blind guide like the Pharisees! Many of today’s secular teachers and philosophers would be put in the same category. God will not reveal more to us than we are willing to obey. Ask the Lord to help you learn from many Godly people. You do not want to miss out on all the ways the Spirit wants to bless you. Paul feared for his people so he gave his own life example as one who humbly admitted his mistakes and repented. Failure to utilize Christ’s offer of righteousness, love and forgiveness on a daily basis can make us vulnerable to being worse off than the unbelievers, miserable and debased.
Ask the Lord to help you follow Paul’s example of humility, repentance and exhortation. There is a fable of an eagle which could out fly 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 arrow was shot, but didn’t quite reach the rival eagle; it was flying too high. The envious 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.
My friend, if you are jealous, the only person you can hurt is yourself.