Gospel Gazette Online
Volume 20 Number 7 July 2018
Page 12

Jealous Much?

Russ Vickers

Russ VickersSome years ago, I visited with a family that had two dogs. One was a boxer, and the other was a Pekingese. They both loved attention and scratches on the head. On that day, I scratched the head of the smaller Pekingese, and while that was going on, the boxer decided to nudge her head and knock my hand off of the smaller dog so she could get the same amount of scratching and love. Needless to say, the Pekingese was jealous of this and began to bark in protest. I have often wondered who was more jealous of the attention. This humorous story reminds me that when it comes to our pets, jealousy can be light-hearted and fun to watch. In human beings, it leads to a whole lot of trouble.

There is also a jealousy that reflects the heart of our God as we are told by Moses and Paul. In Exodus 34:14, we read, “For you shall worship no other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.” Paul penned, “For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ" (2 Corinthians 11:2). This divine or “godly jealousy” about which Paul wrote was sincere in that the Corinthians were always in danger of losing their spiritual purity and being “led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:3). God told Moses when He gave the Ten Commandments, “You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me” (Exodus 20:5).

God is jealous in a good and positive sense. He is not jealous on His own behalf. He has an intense interest in us and desires that our affections continue to be centered on Him alone. God’s jealousy is protective because He saved us from sin through His Son. How can we then reject Him?

Svengali the Manipulator

Donald R. Fox

Donald R. FoxI have been around a few people who are totally uncivil and rude. They can and will manipulate anyone who gets in their way. A word has developed throughout the past 100 years to describe such a negative characteristic, and that is “Svengali.” Never heard of it; well, you are not alone. Some information on this type of uncaring, controlling evil person noted as follows:

Svengali is a fictional character of George du Maurier’s 1894 novel Trilby. Svengali would either fawn or bully and could be grossly impertinent. The word “Svengali” has come to be used as a common noun referring to a person who, with evil intent, controls another person by persuasion or deceit. The Svengali may use pseudo-kindness to get the other person to do what the Svengali desires. The word is also used frequently for any kind of coach who dominates a performer or for an unaccountable but influential adviser who has control of a politician or candidate. (Wikipedia).

A further definition is “one who manipulates or controls another as by some mesmeric or sinister influence.” A Svengali-type person is one who is intrusive and presumptuous. Such a one is brash, self-assertive and will deceitfully control people. (Several movies were made about Svengali; John Barrymore played Svengali in a 1931 movie.)

As I dwelled on the character of Svengali, my thought process started to think about a New Testament character by the name of Diotrephes found in 3 John. In my judgment, Diotrephes had many of the character traits of Svengali. Diotrephes with evil intent controlled and dominated brethren. The following is extracted, in part, from the James Burton Coffman Commentary regarding 3 John 9-10.

“I wrote somewhat unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not” (ASV). “But Diotrephes…” This suggests that he might have been wealthy or of high social standing. With it, however, he was proud, arrogant and insensitive. “Who loveth to have the preeminence among them…” [The definition of preeminence is the quality or state of being superior, DRF.] This prideful and arrogant attitude of Diotrephes was the sin which disturbed the church to which the apostle wrote; but commentators, in some instances, cannot allow that this was the trouble. No! They believe that, Diotrephes’ radical intransigence was due… to theological partisanship. “Diotrephes could have been an elder who was determined to champion the autonomy of the local church.” All such evaluations of the root of the trouble are based upon blindness to the sin of Diotrephes (the true cause of the trouble) which John specifically mentioned. Could it be that “loving to have the preeminence” is not considered sinful in some circles? "Pride was his sin… and a violent jealousy.” One masterful, power-loving man in a church may work incalculable mischief and injury. He had slandered (one of the apostles)… and broken the fellowship of the church.

The Sin of Diotrephes It was through pride that Satan fell. It leads the procession of the things God hates (Proverbs 6:16f). Fellowship within the sacred fold of the church itself cannot prevail where the poison ivy of pride is enthroned. The spirit of Diotrephes not only rejected the authority of an apostle, arrogantly turned away the Lord’s missionaries from his gates, and slandered the apostle who sat next to Jesus and leaned upon his breast, but it in time placed a Diotrephes in the saddle of authority in every urban community on earth (in the rise of metropolitan bishops), and at last repudiated the word of all the apostles, making a man to be the head on earth of the universal church! Yes indeed, as Paul put it, “the mystery of iniquity” was already at work; and this little gem of a letter gives a close-up of the very tap root of the spirit of Lucifer. “There are six things which Jehovah hateth; Yea, seven which are an abomination unto him. Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, And hands that shed innocent blood; A heart that deviseth wicked purposes, Feet that are swift in running to mischief, A false witness that uttereth lies, And he that soweth discord among brethren.” (Proverbs 6:16-19 ASV)

[Editor’ Note: Many are the congregations among the people of God wherein men have forgotten to Whom the church belongs (Romans 16:16) and that Jesus Christ is really the Head of it (Colossians 1:18). Not infrequently, elderships face such a disturbance, and commonly in the absence of elders, men’s meetings are riotous (1 Corinthians 1:10-13). It ought not to be so, especially when our Lord occupies His rightful place in Christians’ hearts and minds. ~ Louis Rushmore, Editor]