Jealousy, or envy, has been a root cause of devastating sin in the church and this world, and we would be wise to take a more serious look at it. Jealousy is so easy to fall into because it plays into our insecurities. It kills love, destroys friendships and is like a malignancy of the spirit (see above scripture.)
I recently ran across a book by R.T. Kendall, Jealousy; The Sin No One Talks About. I can't possibly do his book justice here, so I encourage you to read it for yourself. R.T. has a unique way of being very direct, applying common sense and keen biblical insight to a subject, which makes for an excellent perspective. His title is spot on - we don’t talk about our jealousies because its, well, embarrassing and makes us look petulant, immature and selfish - which we often are.
If you do a word study on this topic, you will find hundreds of references to jealousy and envy, as they are synonyms. However, R.T. differentiates between the two in that envy is a more passive emotion, usually resulting from covetousness. Jealousy, however, goes beyond envy and is more active, a resentment of others successes. It is “bent on vengeance”. But both are equally destructive.
I have told my children countless times (and reminded myself) that anyone can weep with you. It is only your true friends who will rejoice with you when you are successful or blessed- and there may be less of them than you might think. You can lay that at the feet of jealousy.
Focusing on this theme in scripture reveals that it was the root cause of all kinds of evil, from the beginning of human history. Sibling rivalry was fueled by jealousy - think of Cain and Abel, Isaac and Ishmael, Rachel and Leah, Joseph and his brothers, Moses and Aaron and Miriam - and that just takes us through Numbers! (I suspect it is still a major cause of fractured relationships between adult siblings today). It was raging jealousy that led to the death plots of David, the infants of Bethlehem, John the Baptist and Jesus. Matthew tells us that the Pharisees plotted Jesus’ death because of their “envy” of him and his popularity. This is a serious sin, we best not take it lightly.
But Scripture also speaks of godly jealousy, and this is an interesting twist on this subject. R.T. says, “God's Jealousy Proves His Love”. God's jealousy is not sin, but springs from His immense love for us and His desire for our good. In contrast, human jealousy comes out of selfish desires, resentment and impure motives. The Scripture above clearly indicates that peace of mind and jealousy are polar opposites.
So the question is this: what do we do when jealousy sets in? Here are a few suggestions:
Admit it, say it, call it out: “I am jealous of______ because_________.” This step is the most difficult, as we hate to admit our sin. But we also must ask the Spirit to help us understand the root of our problem, the cause of our jealousy.
Confess it as sin.
Pray a blessing on those of whom you are jealous. Pray it until you mean it.
Spend some time focusing on your own uniqueness, your calling, who you are, how God has gifted, blessed and used you.
Finally, cultivate thankfulness for God's blessings in your life.