And How to Overcome it
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Jealousy is not a fun topic. We don’t like highlighting our innermost thoughts and feelings, especially when they are wrong. In fact, it’s embarrassing to have to admit to being jealous.
But jealousy is one of those seemingly subtle sins that none of us think we’re guilty of, how ever quick we are to point it out in others. Some people see it as a harmless emotion, and that it’s only wrong because God arbitrarily decided that it was.
But what God commands us to stay away from, he does for a reason: it is harmful for us.
This blog post is all about the consequences of jealousy in the Bible, how to identify it, and how to overcome it.
What is Jealousy?
We can’t identify and conquer something within ourselves if we don’t first define what we are looking for.
Jealousy is bitterness when others succeed.
Jealousy is experiencing negative feelings (such as anger and bitterness) when someone else is doing better than we are.
An example of this in the Bible can be found in the story of King Saul and David. David defeated Goliath and suddenly he was receiving all the attention and praise. Because of King Saul’s jealousy, he wanted to kill David – a mere shepherd boy (1 Samuel 19:19-22:23).
Jealousy can’t stand to see other people succeed: win awards, have a great career, have lots of friends, have talents, or even have a happy marriage. We think to ourselves, “Why can’t I have those things? They aren’t smarter or better than I am. They don’t deserve those things. If only people knew who they really were!”.
We tell ourselves we don’t like these people for all sorts of reasons; we try to justify our negative feelings towards them by making it their fault. But we are completely overlooking our own sinful attitude: we are jealous!
Jealousy is sadness due to the happiness of others.
Have you ever thrown yourself a pity party? You see your friends and family going on extravagant vacations, meanwhile you are camping in the backyard? Are your friends updating their houses, while your house is stuck in the 80’s? Does your friend go on frequent date nights with their spouse, meanwhile you’re lucky if you can get halfway through a movie at home with yours?
Even if we don’t feel anger or bitterness towards our friends and family for their seemingly better life, do we feel sad and even depressed about our own life in comparison? If we have experienced this, we are experiencing jealousy.
An example of this in the Bible, is the story of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-31). The prodigal son was greedy, lazy, and selfish. He wanted his inheritance up front, so he could move out of his father’s home and live a lavish lifestyle. He quickly ran out of money, learned his lesson, and humbly returned to work for his father, asking to work as a servant. Instead, the father threw him a party! Meanwhile, his brother who stayed behind, loyally working for his father, felt angry and self-pity.
‘All these years I’ve slaved for you and never once refused to do a single thing you told me to. And in all that time you never gave me even one young goat for a feast with my friends. Yet when this son of yours comes back after squandering your money on prostitutes, you celebrate by killing the fattened calf!’Luke 15:29-30 (NLT)
Jealousy can’t understand happiness for the transformation of a brother, or in the blessings God gives to others. It focuses on self and what they are lacking in.
Jealousy reacts in hostility towards others.
Jealousy makes us unfriendly, unpleasant, and even aggressive towards people who have never done anything to harm us. This is something we would never want to admit, but I think if we were honest with ourselves, we have all acted this way at some point. We have all looked at someone with this thought, “I can’t stand that person!”
A great example of this in the Bible is the story of Joseph. Joseph hadn’t done anything wrong, other than making the mistake of being the youngest and favorite of his father’s children – the baby of the family. We all have one of those, or maybe we ourselves are the baby. But Joseph’s brothers hated him for this and plotted to kill him. They chickened out in the end and opted to sell him into slavery instead. All for being the favorite.
‘But his brothers hated Joseph because their father loved him more than the rest of them. They couldn’t even say a kind word to him.’Genesis 37:4 (NLT)
Chances are, that person has never done anything to us, other than existing, but we may blame them for our dissatisfaction and treat them unfairly because of it. We often think we have a reason to dislike them – they are too proud or boastful – but the problem lies within us: we are jealous!
The Consequences of Jealousy
Jealousy affects our moods, emotions, and mental health.
Proverbs 14:30 says this,
‘A peaceful heart leads to a healthy body; jealousy is like a cancer in the bones.’NLT
Jealousy eats away at you. It robs you of joy and peace. It creates self-pity and despair. Self-pity is always a useless emotion. There is no place for it in the Christian life. It tears away at the truth of the Bible and our faith. It makes us lose sight of what is truly important in this life and makes us take our eyes off the Lord.
Jealousy destroys relationships.
James 3:15-16 says,
‘For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic. For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind.’NLT
Proverbs 27:4 says,
‘Anger is cruel, and wrath is like a flood, but jealousy is even more dangerous.’NLT
Jealousy breeds a destructive critical spirit. It causes anger and suspicion of others. When we harbor this kind of critical attitude, we assume that others think like we do. We fail to see genuine acts of kindness for what they are. We hold back from being authentic in relationships and allowing others to see our vulnerability. We put up a wall around ourselves and effectively isolate from others.
Jealousy prevents us from recognizing what God is doing in our lives.
1 Corinthians 4:7 says,
‘For what gives you the right to make such a judgment? What do you have that God hasn’t given you? And if everything you have is from God, why boast as though it were not a gift?’NLT
I recently received a comment from someone – a social media troll – who said, “What good is God? He hasn’t done anything for me or my family!”. There isn’t a point in responding to someone who is just trying to pick a fight; however, what I wanted to say was this: “the fact that you are even responding to me means: you are alive, you must have food to be alive, and you have access to the internet and devices to be able to post a comment! All that comes from God.”
The Bible doesn’t tell us to thank God only when we feel satisfied with how much he has blessed us with. It says to thank him all the time, in all circumstances, even in difficult times.
Jealousy causes us to become discontent and not recognize the good God is doing in our lives. God placed us in our current situation and life for a reason! And in that current situation, if we faithfully obey God’s Word, we will experience the life he intended for us to have – one fully satisfying, joyful and peaceful!
How to Overcome Jealousy
There are three basic steps to conquering jealousy.
1. We need to recognize jealousy as sin
Society likes to make light of sin and when it comes to jealousy, it’s basically just another human emotion: the green eye of envy. But Proverbs 27:4 tells us that it is even more dangerous than anger or wrath! And James 3:15 says that jealousy is demonic! Those are some pretty strong words regarding jealousy.
People like to grade sin on a scale from acceptable (a little white lie) to horrible (mass murder), and everything else falls in between. But the Bible says that sin is sin. All have sinned and fall short of God’s standard. And jealousy is not as harmless as we like to think.
2. We need to examine ourselves and confess our sin to God.
Jealousy is embarrassing. Pride doesn’t want us to admit to being jealous. But if we were honest with ourselves – no one is innocent of jealousy. We need to bring our sin into the light of God’s presence and confess it to him.
1 John 1:9 says,
‘But if we confess our sin to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.’NLT
3. Capture Every Thought
2 Corinthians 10:5 says,
‘…We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.’NIV
When we begin to feel envious or jealous of others: capture that thought! Stop that thought in its tracks! Remind yourself that God has you exactly where he wants you and will bless you where you are. Your life will look different than others, but your life, led by the Holy Spirit, is exactly the life that God has planned for you that will bring you perfect fulfillment in Christ.
The consequences of jealousy in the Bible are destruction and chaos.
Instead of being jealous, God wants us to love. First and foremost, we are to love God with our whole, heart, soul, and mind. Second, we are to love everyone else – even our enemies.
1 Peter 4:8 says,
‘Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.’NIV
There is no room for jealousy when we are too busy loving others!
Jealousy – The Sin No One Talks About: How to Overcome Envy and Live a Life of Freedom by R.T. Kendall – Jealousy. We all have to deal with it. Jealousy is rooted in our natural fears and insecurities. It has damaged relationships since the time of Cain and Abel, and still does today if we let it. In this book, R.T. Kendall tackles, head-on, the sin that no one likes to admit to. He shows that it is only when we grasp that it is God we should aim to please that we will be able to recognize and overcome jealousy and, like Jesus, be jealous only for the glory of God.