“A sound heart is the life of the flesh; but envy the rottenness of the bones.”—Proverbs 14:30
We live in a world where material wealth and professional success serve as the standard for happiness. Jealousy is one of the hardest emotions to control. We are around people every day that have more than us. Maybe they seem to have a better marriage, more friends, a bigger house, or have a job that they envy. We are always wanting what others have or threatened by someone’s success. Do you rejoice in the successes of other people, or do you envy them? What about when you see a friend succeed in business and/or life? Are you happy for him or her? Or are you bitten by the green-eyed monster?
According to Webster’s dictionary, the word jealous means, “resentful and envious, as of someone’s success, achievements, advantages…” I have seen families, friends, and brethren torn apart because of jealousy. Jealousy is a tool created by the devil, and it’s a sin that is hard for some to overcome. The devil himself is coming to kill, steal, and to destroy your life. If he can cause more confusion and division between you and someone you are close to, he has succeeded.
Jealousy, when we allow it to take root in our heart, can cause all kinds of problems like bitterness, stress, and anger. Jealousy can lead us to steal, gossip, and even hurt others. Jealousy can even lead to murder. It is probably one of the world’s oldest emotions. It has been around since the beginning of time. Look at Cain and Abel. Jealousy is what led Cain to murder his own brother. Cain was jealous that God blessed Abel’s sacrifice instead of his. It is also why the religious leaders murdered Jesus.
Genesis 37:4-11 tells us that when Joseph’s brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him. Then one day Joseph told his family that in a dream all of them bowed down to him, including his own father. His brothers hated him even more for his dreams and his words. Joseph had another dream and told his father and his brothers that the sun, moon, and eleven stars bowed down to him. The NASB says in verse 11: “…[Joseph’s] brothers were jealous of him…” Of course, you know how the story ends. Joseph’s brothers fake his death and sell him into slavery. This was all done because of jealousy, which turned into hatred.
Jealousy is inappropriate for followers of Christ since it distracts us from the Lord. It is a sign of spiritual immaturity. Because with jealousy, we are still seeing things from a worldly perspective. So that brings us to the final two questions. What do we do about it? How do we face the giant of jealousy?
Overcoming jealousy can be done.
- Stop comparing yourself to other people. You were created as a very unique and special person. Sometimes we’re so busy counting everyone else’s blessings that we forget to count our own. Please don’t feel bad about what you don’t have. Being content in this life can go a long way in reminding us that this life is temporary.
- You can find someone who needs your help. Nothing will cure jealousy like getting your eyes off those above you and on those who are less fortunate. A few minutes spent helping someone else will end up helping you as your focus shifts from what you think you lack to how you can use what you have been given for the benefit of those less fortunate.
- You can pray for whoever you’re jealous of. Ask the Lord to help you replace any envious or jealous feelings that you have. This will soften your heart towards them and help you to see them the way that God sees them. The power of prayer can change your focus and your attitude.
If we cease jealousy and envy, we will find our relationship with God much improved. We will never find contentment with the things of this world, but we can find contentment in Christ today. He is everything we need.