The Jealous Heart

While my wife and I were taking a leisurely afternoon stroll in a quaint community near our home, I overheard a few conversations standing in line at a coffee shop and sitting outside on a park bench. The first was about the couple’s second home on Cape Cod. The second was in reference to the luxury vehicle one man had just purchased for his daughter. What was it about their casual comments that tugged on me? I don’t like to admit it, but both sparked a tinge of jealousy in my heart…a response I neither desired or appreciated. I was surprised how quickly it emerged.

Upon reflection, what I experienced is well known to the biblical writers, and to centuries of Christ followers just like me. “A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones” (Proverbs 14:30). “Anger is cruel and fury overwhelming, but who can stand before jealousy?” (Proverbs 27:4). “The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity…hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition…” (Galatians 5:19-21). The only One who can handle jealously in a godly manner is God – the One who is jealous for our love and attention above all other loves vying for our affection.

Jealousy is one of those ugly words we’d all prefer expunged from our vocabulary and experience. Like it’s sibling envy and its cousin anger, jealousy is what eeks out of a heart that’s not fully at peace, vulnerable to various alternatives to godly fondness. Jealously raises its head when we’re not content with our own circumstances, and prefer anothers to our own. Jealousy emerges when we’re in a complaining spirit and desirous of what’s seemingly out of reach. Jealousy wreaks with a stench of disharmony from within and wreaks havoc on our walk with others.

In what ways has your heart grown jealous recently? Is someone around you making more money, enjoying more happiness, expressing more delight, looking more beautiful, sounding more intelligent, owning more possessions, or appearing more athletic than you? If you’re not able to celebrate their personal life circumstance, then perhaps there’s a seed of jealousy burrowing it’s head down deep in the soil of your heart. Left unattended, it’s bound to grow into rage, dissension, factions and envy, or other less desirable responses.

Exploring the condition of our heart requires us to look authentically in the mirror of our attitudes toward others and within ourselves. Most likely, if you’re experiencing jealousy, the invitation from God is to find your joy in Him. “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another…if it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Romans 12: 15-18). And, learn the secret of contentment “whatever the circumstances…in need…in plenty…in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4: 11-13).

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Steve Macchia

Founder & President

The Rev. Dr. Stephen A. Macchia is founder and president of Leadership Transformations, Inc. (LTI), a ministry serving the spiritual formation, discernment, and renewal of leaders and learners since 2003. For more than 20 years he has been the Director of the Pierce Center for Disciple-Building at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he also serves as an adjunct faculty member in the Doctor of Ministry Program. From 1989-2003 he was the president of Vision New England, the largest regional church renewal association in the country. Earlier in his ministry life, Steve was a member of the pastoral staff of Grace Chapel in Lexington, Massachusetts for 11 years. He is the author or co-author of 17 books, including The Discerning Life (Zondervan Reflective), and Crafting a Rule of Life, Becoming A Healthy Church (LTI), and Broken and Whole (IVP).  He and his wife Ruth live in the Boston (MA) area and are the proud parents of two married children and grandparents to three adorable grandchildren. Steve’s personal website is www.SteveMacchia.com.

My soul comes alive singing the great hymns of the church and enjoying the beauty of God’s creation. I’m in awe of God for fulfilling the dream for LTI that he birthed in my heart, for the team he has assembled, and the transformational impact experienced in the leaders and teams we serve.

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Mitzi Mak

Selah-West Faculty

Mitzi started her professional life as a high school social studies teacher. She and her husband Jerry then served cross-culturally for ten+ years, living abroad first in India and then Kurdistan, N. Iraq. In addition to being a Spiritual Director, she now serves as a Formation and Care pastor in her local church in Houston, TX. She has graduated from LTI’s Selah Spiritual Direction training as well as LTI’s Emmaus Formational Leadership Program.

Mitzi enjoys engaging conversation, reading fiction, doing jigsaw/crossword puzzles, ocean gazing and exploring the world with Jerry through food and travel.

God has two main callings in Mitzi’s life: to care for those who care for others and to be a guide in helping others have a healthy relationship with the Trinity – recognizing God’s loving presence and activity in their lives and how to faithfully respond.

Selah was a transformative experience for me – allowing the contemplative within to emerge and to beautifully co-exist with my extraverted personality.