Envy negates the Spirit's work
The fact that the Old Testament and the Gospel lessons for this Sunday show a similar sin in Joshua and among Christ’s disciples and a similar response from Moses and Jesus should make us pay close attention, because the things that were written in the past were written to teach us (Romans 15:4). Joshua and the disciples exhibit the same fallen human nature that lives in us, and Moses and Jesus show us godly appreciation and love for others.
Both Moses (Psalm 106:16) and Jesus (Mark 15:10) were the victims of envy. Envy and jealousy negate the Spirit’s work. It is healthy for us to look into our own hearts and see where we allow envy or jealousy to divide God’s people and keep us from serving Jesus. It is Jesus, after all, that we serve and not the glory of our congregation or our personal recognition. Envy takes our eyes off Jesus. It takes the joy out of service. We could understand Joshua’s concern if Medad and Eldad were working against Moses. But after Joshua had seen the Spirit fall on 68 others who would work with Moses, why didn’t he rejoice (as Moses did) that all seventy who were appointed received the Spirit, whether they attended the installation or not?
A church member spent an afternoon canvassing a neighborhood, but at the next meeting it was only reported that someone else had thrown himself into canvassing. The other member wasn’t recognized. Funny how easily the joy of serving the Lord can be clouded by someone else getting the recognition we expected. Envy and jealousy are such common problems among us, yet how many of us can identify them in ourselves as easily as we can spot lust or discontent? The thing about envy and jealousy is that they focus on someone else so strongly that we don’t recognize that the problem is in our hearts.
Both Moses and Jesus pull our eyes off of others and encourage us to praise God for the faithful efforts of others! In fact, righteous Jesus rejoices over the work of others in exactly the way we should! You and I have a hard time letting go of envy. We need a Savior who could be perfectly humble and not self-seeking. That’s the Savior we have in Jesus. Knowing that the Lord washes our sins away and covers us with Christ’s righteousness, we can push down our envy and rejoice in the partnership we have with other servants of God.