In a few weeks, I will be preaching on Proverbs 14:30 regarding the danger of jealousy. Usually, envy destroys our life; It "rots our bones."
Lately, I have been thinking about an envy that is life-giving instead. In Romans 11:11, Paul writes that salvation escaped the Jews and was offered to the Gentiles "to make Israel envious." the King James version translates the phrase more forcefully: "provoke them to jealousy." God shifted salvation to non-Jews with the intent of stirring the souls of His chosen people to reconsider the way of salvation offered by Christ.
Last week, I asked Messianic Jew [see previous post], what this envy means. How does a Gentile's salvation make Israel envious? His answer was beautiful: When Christians live out of an overflow of the Spirit at work in them, the Jew remembers the privilege of God's presence among His people generations ago and longs for that presence to descend into their life today. Simply put, the Spirit of God manifested in the people of God makes others want what we have. In 1 Peter 3:15, the Apostle writes, "Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have." Peter's statement assumes that Believers are living in such a hope-abundant way that other people would have reason to stop them and ask the question, "Why?"
My friend's answer is good for me to remember, not only among my Jewish friends, but among all people. The most compelling evangelism is the envy the results from God-centered and God-contented living.