Anger is cruel and fury overwhelming, but who can stand before jealousy? Proverbs 27:4
Christina Forsyth was a successful missionary to the Xolobe people in Africa. As a young woman, she fell in love with a young banker. His responsibilities took him to India but the two promised to write one another. Christina wrote. No personal letters came back.
Years passed. Eventually she became engaged to another man. Shortly before her wedding, the banker friend, who was back in England, heard the news and rode down to see her. Why had she never answered his letters? he asked. For her part she wondered why he had not responded to her? They came to the painful recognition that someone in Christina’s household, jealous of their happiness, had intercepted their correspondence.
Jealousy is indeed an insidious trait. It has led to terrible betrayals in secular and sacred history. Some Bible characters who suffered because of it were Joseph, whose brothers sought to destroy him out of envy, Hannah, whose rival taunted her with childlessness, and David, who was hated and harrassed by Saul. Joseph and David were types of Christ.
When the Jewish leaders brought Christ before Pilate, the Roman governor discerned that their motive was not a passion for justice but because they were jealous of Jesus (Mark 15:10).
The beautiful thing about each of these records is that God brought good out of the jealousy. Had Christina married her banker, she would not have been widowed in Africa nor turned her hand to the hard work among the Xolobe. Had Joseph not been sold by his brothers, he would not have been in Egypt to work their rescue. Had Hannah not been so provoked by the rival wife, she might never have prayed for a son or received Samuel. Had David not been pursued by Saul, we would not have had many rich illustrations of faith and powerful psalms. Had Jesus not been put to death out of envy, where would be our salvation?