The Book of Acts of the Apostles 5:17 narrates, “The high priest rose up and all his companions, that is, the party of the Sadducees, and filled with jealousy, laid hands upon the apostles and put them in the public jail.”
Is there something as “righteous jealousy?” Righteousness and jealousy seem incompatible. The two words are contradictory.
Let us try to ponder more on the possible connection between the two words because obviously they cannot go together.
We are human beings. We have our weaknesses and we have a saintly side as well. The bottomline is, we struggle and strive for holiness not to despise the less holy but to live in the state of grace. We don’t even brag our degree of holiness. Falling into that trap is self-righteousness, which is using oneself as a point of comparison with the rest and using oneself as a gauge to correct instead of the gospel truths.
Nevertheless, despite our determination to live a holy life, we still fall and we sin. That is human reality. God remains faithful and He persistently calls us to righteousness. Jesus affirmed that clearly, “Be perfect as my heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48)
Righteousness is our life devoid from sin – knowing and doing good and avoiding evil.
When we strengthen our virtues, we are certain to avoid vices. With virtues, we can read the cunnings and deception of the devil and we defeat them. Reality will tell us that earthly life can provide avenues and venues for sin. We are in an illusion if we say that the world is all good. We are hallucinating if we say that the world is all happiness. The world we have is also a world of evil things and worse, they come in disguise to allure people to fall. It sounds pessimistic but this is the reality.
We look at the current situation. Many are suffering and dying due to the Covid-19. The world suddenly stopped. Coupled with the Covid-19 are epidemics affecting the animals and agriculture.
We ask now, is righteousness still relevant today? Righteousness will remain even amidst the growing social immoralities. It is our moral responsibility as Christians to shine in a world of immorality and suffering. We may be in the government, we may be officials, we may be employees in the different government units, we are morally obliged to live our Christian values and not to be a part of the sinful system or sinful situation.
Jealousy is objectively sinful, but we can see its effects. We can be jealous and yet it motivates us to become better. Jealousy may also lead us to destroy others because they are far better.
The Sadducees were jealous and they imprisoned the apostles, who were doing well in their work. They impacted to the people to conversion. The people followed their way. The apostles were effective and efficient in their ministry and many people came to believe. People listened to them and followed them. The Sadducees were jealous of the successful ministry. Instead of asking the apostles’ secret to improve themselves, they imprisoned them.
Jealousy can happen in our lives. There was once a farmer who got jealous of his neighbor for his plants were bearing good fruits. Instead of seeking advice to make his plant fruitful, he plotted to destroy his neighbor’s plant. One evening, he watered it with hot water and the tree eventually died.
However, jealousy can also be beneficial. It can impact positively. Using the same story, there was a person who was jealous of his neighbor’s mango tree bearing much fruit. He asked for help. He was given instructions on how to do it. One day, his mango tree was also bearing good fruits.
A student was jealous of his multi-talented classmate. “How I wish to be like him.” He sought the help of his friend until he was able to hone his own talent. He could have character assassinated his friend due to jealousy but he processed that human weakness to something good. That is righteous jealousy.
During this pandemic, one is enrolled to the Social Amelioration Program or Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers and you are not, because you are not qualified. Then the righteous jealousy will make you examine yourself, “Well, I am more capable than the other. Hence, I stop complaining and I appreciate my blessings.”
Righteous jealousy may not be a common or impossible term, but it makes sense.
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