An Exploration of Galatians: The Deeds of the Flesh Part 3
Galatians 5:19-21 - Do not let enmities, strife and jealousy take over your life.
”Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.“
Galatians 5:19-21 NASB1995
After the sensual sins and the religious sins, Paul now lists several relational sins in this passage in Galatians 5. I’m going to break this down into several pieces. This devotional will examine enmities, strife and jealousy.
So what is enmity? Enmity comes from the Greek word ἔχθρα or echthra meaning hostility, hatred or a reason for opposition. Looking at more modern definitions, here’s a long list of definitions from a search for this word on a search engine:
Deep-seated, often mutual hatred.
A feeling or state of hatred or animosity.
The quality or state of being hostile; a feeling or condition of antagonism; ill will; variance; discord.
Synonyms Animosity, Ill will, Malice, etc. See animosity and odium.
The quality of being an enemy; hostile or unfriendly disposition.
A state of opposition; hostility.
A state of deep-seated ill-will.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition
Gee, can we think of any current situations in the world or in our country that might fit these definitions? I can think of one, where the shocking atrocities of the pogrom on October 7 committed by Hamas in Israel have turned into a worldwide movement of Jewish hatred, with Groups calling for the elimination of Israel (“from the river to the sea”) and even promoting the genocide of Jews. Some of these same groups are telling the lie that the Israeli Defense Force committed the atrocities on that day or that they never happened. For the record, I am not ashamed to say that I support the nation of Israel and have been praying often for them and for the benighted Palestinians, who are drowning in an ancient hatred.
I have read unbelievable antisemitism shared by people from whom I would not expect to see such animosity. It’s probably a given that the Israelis aren’t fond of the Palestinians, either, especially after those actions, but it astounds me how many people buy into the most ludicrous propaganda thrown about by pro-Palestinian groups. The post-modern world is now divided into a cartoon caricature* of people groups known as the “oppressor” and the “oppressed”. The nation of Israel, which is largely constituted of surviving Holocaust victims, their descendants and other Jewish immigrants who came to that new country to seek refuge from prejudice and antisemitism, is now cast into the role of “oppressor”. This is particularly ironic, given that Arabs make up over 20% of the population of Israel, but there are no Jews in Gaza or the West Bank, other than hostages. The Palestinians, no matter what they do or how vile their hatred is, are the “oppressed” and they are the sweethearts of leftist and Marxist movements around the world. The same oppressor/oppressed forced enmity is happening in this country; this cannot end well.
Pray, pray, pray for both sides - one to discard their malignant deep-seated hatred and the other to do what they can to remove the threats as quickly and effectively as they can. The link to the poll results that I shared above notes that younger people are also skeptical, in significant numbers, that the Holocaust happened. We are now 90 years after Hitler came to power and the hatred of the Jews is ramping up rapidly again.
Enmity rules our world. It is one of the most powerful tools of the enemy, through such divisions as noted above (oppressor/oppressed mindsets). People literally despise other people because of how they voted, their race, their beliefs, even their opinions on mundane topics. We use the word “hate” so readily and easily, even for very minor things (“I hate this traffic”, “I hate these lines”, “I hate this weather”, “I hate going through TSA”, I hate when my breakfast order is incorrect”). Stop feeding the hatred! Scroll by the comment, ignore the post, don’t respond to the email. Pray for others, for patience, for peace and for God’s love to prevail.
So what is strife? Strife comes from the Greek word ἔρις or eris. The modern dictionary definitions are the best:
Heated, often violent conflict or disagreement. synonym: conflict.
A conflict or quarrel.
Contention or competition between rivals.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition
Strife is probably most likely a precursor to enmity. A disagreement becomes a quarrel, which then leads to more deep-seated hatred. It is also the outcome of competition between rivals. Here’s an interesting take on this deed of the flesh from the late William Barclay, a Scottish preacher quoted in Precept Austin:
…is the contention which is born of envy, ambition, the desire for prestige, and place and prominence. It comes from the heart in which there is jealousy. If a man is cleansed of jealousy, he has gone far to being cleansed of all that arouses contention and strife. It is God-given gift to be able to take as much pleasure in the successes of others as in one’s own…
Eris is the spirit that is born of unbridled and unholy competition. It comes from the desire for place and power and prestige and the hatred of being surpassed. It is essentially the sin which places self in the foreground and is the entire negation of Christian love…
(Eris) is a word of battles. It denotes rivalry and competition, discord about place and prestige. It is the characteristic of the man who has forgotten that only he who humbles himself can be exalted.
So strife is not just the result of conflicts, as depicted in the second photo, but it can also stem from ambitions and rivalries and discord about place and prestige. Speaking of prestige, recently we watched a fascinating movie called “The Prestige” that came out a number of years ago. It stars Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale and was directed by Christopher Nolan. It tells the tale of two rival magicians in London in the late 1800’s who are vying for the most elaborate “teleportation” trick that they can conjure up. The rivalry becomes strife between the two men as they seek to find their “prestige” and things finally devolve into mutual hatred. The movie has some excellent plot twists and is recommended for seeing how vigorous competition can eventually lead to self-destruction.
So what is jealousy? Jealousy comes from the Greek word ζῆλος or zelos, which is also the root word for zealotry. Here are some Biblical usages of the word:
excitement of mind, ardour, fervour of spirit
zeal, ardour in embracing, pursuing, defending anything
zeal in behalf of, for a person or thing
the fierceness of indignation, punitive zeal
an envious and contentious rivalry, jealousy
Zeal on behalf of a person or a thing or the excitement of the mind and fervent pursuit of the spirit can be a good thing. Jealousy, however is based in envy and contention. It is wanting what someone else has (person, possessions, looks, popularity) and stewing in frustration about not having those things. Precept Austin has these examples of jealousy:
A Jewish proverb says that…
Love is blind; jealousy sees too much.
Jealousy is the injured lover’s hell
William Penn wrote that…
The jealous are troublesome to others; a torment to themselves
O, beware, my lord, of jealousy; It is the green-ey’d monster which doth mock the meat it feeds on. [Shakespeare: Othello, III.iii]
Gotquestions.org has a good description of what jealousy means:
Being jealous indicates that we are not satisfied with what God has given us. The Bible tells us to be content with what we have, for God will never fail or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). In order to combat jealousy, we need to become more like Jesus and less like ourselves. We can get to know Him through Bible study, prayer, and fellowship with mature believers. As we learn how to serve others instead of ourselves, our hearts will begin to change. “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2).
That first sentence says it all - a lack of gratitude or dissatisfaction with what God has given us leads to jealousy. It is the green-eyed monster, as Shakespeare said, that cannot abide the success of others, whether it is in relationships, careers, abilities, or possessions. Jealousy leads to inappropriate possessiveness and hostility towards loved ones if someone else pays attention to them. One thing that really drives me crazy is when someone else says that they live “vicariously” through us (we have had some friends who have said that because of a travel experience Steve and I have had). Please, please live through your own experiences and be satisfied and joyful with the abundance that God provides!
My next devotional examines the next relational sin that Paul describes: Outbursts of anger. I thought this one was important enough to concentrate solely on it.
*CODA: If you are interested in a fascinating analysis of the oppressor/oppressed paradigm and how it is leading to the worst aspects of common enemy tribalism in this nation, take some time and read this Substack article on a site called AfterBabel. I don’t agree with all of their thoughts, but it is certainly compelling. And the antisemitism that has sprung up has been in the works for years and is not a spontaneous response to Israel’s actions in Gaza.
Heaven on Wheels Daily Prayer:
Dear Lord - I pray that deep-seated enmities between peoples of the world can be overcome with patience, peacemaking and demonstrating Your love. I pray that strife can be avoided by trying to live in peace with others and stopping obsessions with differences. I pray that jealousy can be overcome by being grateful and content for what You have provided. In Jesus name: Amen.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. lockman.org
The Blue Letter Bible was accessed on 12/25/2023 to review the lexicon for the words “Enmities”, “Strife” and “Jealousy”.
Gotquestions.org was accessed on 12/25/2023 to review the meaning of the word jealousy as used in the Bible.
The personal testimony of Bruce Hurt, creator of Precept Austin, can be found Here