Then John said in reply, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow in our company.” Jesus said to him, “Do not prevent him, for whoever is not against you is for you.” - Luke 9:49-50
Why would the Apostles try to prevent someone from casting a demon out in Jesus’ name? Jesus was not concerned about it and, in fact, tells them not to prevent him. So why were the Apostles concerned? Most likely because of jealousy.
The jealousy we see in this case among the Apostles is one that can creep into the Church at times. It has to do with a desire for power and control. The Apostles were upset because the person casting out demons did not follow in their company. In other words, the Apostles were not able to be in charge of this person.
Though this may be hard to understand it may be helpful to see it in a modern context. Say someone is in charge of a ministry at church and another person or persons start up a new ministry. The new ministry is quite successful and, as a result, those who have been working in the older more established ministries may get upset and a bit jealous.
This is silly but it’s also reality. It happens all the time, not only within a church setting but also in our daily lives. When we see someone else doing something that is successful or bearing good fruit, we may get envious or jealous.
In this case, with the Apostles, Jesus is quite understanding and compassionate about the whole thing. But He is also quite clear. “Do not prevent him, for whoever is not against you is for you.” Do you see things in life this way? When someone does well do you rejoice or are you negative? When another does good things in Jesus’ name, does that fill your heart with gratitude that God is using that person for good or do you get envious?
Reflect, today, upon the many good things going on all around you. Reflect, especially, upon those who are furthering the Kingdom of God. And reflect upon how you feel about them. Pray that you will see them as your coworker in the vineyard of Christ rather than as your competitor.
Lord, I thank You for the many good things taking place within Your Church and within society. Help me to rejoice in all that You do through others. Help me to let go of any struggle I have with envy. Jesus, I trust in You.