Paul and Barnabas are in are in Turkey. Yesterday we read that they were invited to share at the Jewish synagogue on the Sabbath and were well received. They are invited to preach the next Sunday and the synagogue is full of Jews and Gentiles. A packed crowd! Luke reports, “When the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy.” Yup, in the midst of success is also the little green eyed monster that stirs the pot. People contradict, argue, abuse and generally oppose. The Jewish leaders stirred up the situation and Paul and Barnabas were forced to move on. It seems that Paul and Barnabas did not waste energy fighting with jealousy and demanding their rights. They “shook the dust off their feet” and moved on.
Jealousy divides and creates sides as we see in this story. I find it interesting that Paul and Barnabas do not engage with jealousy but realize how jealousy closes the heart of the other and that the solution for them is to move on. Perhaps we would say ignore. Jealousy breaks relationships and closes ears. Communication breaks down. Most of us have that person or persons in our relationship network that develops green eyes about us. Trying to win their favor may not be the best approach. Arguing with them may be useless. Examining our own hearts, actions, and motives to make sure we are right before the Lord may be absolutely necessary. In the end, engaging with jealousy is distracting and staying focused on truth is necessary. Perhaps like in this story, God is allowing jealousy so that we are forced to move on in our thinking and living, if possible.
Spend a moment now to reflect on relationships where you might be experiencing tension. Confess where you might have been in the wrong. Ponder if you are being sucked into an unresolvable downward spiral. Maybe it is time to move on and see where God is leading you. Blessings as the struggle is real!