As used in this question, jealousy is the work of Satan and reflects a sinful behavior pattern of our flesh. A jealous person is envious when someone has something they think they need and deserve, such as someone’s wealth, status, acclamations, abilities, looks, or popularity.
Jealousy was birthed in Eden when the snake persuaded Adam and Eve to be jealous of God’s understanding of good and evil when He told them not to eat of the tree of good and evil. They ate, and we are still paying the price for their sin today.
The sin of jealously spread to Cain, who killed Abel out of jealousy (Genesis 4:5).
“When Rachel saw that she was not bearing Jacob any children, she became jealous of her sister. So she said to Jacob, “Give me children, or I’ll die!” (Genesis 30:1)
Paul dealt with false teachers who were jealous of his ministry. (Philippians 1:15)
The Pharisees’ hateful jealousy toward Jesus led to their execution of our Savior. (Matthew 12:14)
No doubt that we all have struggled with jealously at some point in our lives. Many, Christians included, live with fear and insecurity and never seem to be satisfied with their lives. These people are more apt to complain and demand rather than celebrate what God has given them. Things never sustain lasting contentment. The good news is that God will change such an attitude when we choose to focus our minds on glorifying God and not ourselves. He will replace jealousy with peace and gratitude for all that He has and will continue to give to us.
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:4-7).
Unfortunately, it is human nature to compare ourselves to others. A jealous heart can bring about a toxic mix of anger, insecurity, fear, and greed. Jealousy is Satan’s tool to replace love and hope for others with envy and discontentment. The root causes of jealousy are related to a person’s inability to see God’s provision in their life as enough.
James 3:16 states, “For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.”
Overcoming the pitfalls of jealousy is a process of understanding that such an attitude is sin and that God can heal us. Being open to humbling ourselves, asking forgiveness as we confess our sin of jealously to God through prayer, and relying on the Holy Spirit to bring to mind areas where we struggle is the beginning of healing.
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
Professional counselor Michael Linn suggests proactive steps to take:
- Demonstrate Gratitude in Life – Reading the Psalms and turning them into personal prayers can be an excellent place to go in the Bible. Reflect on the areas you have been blessed in life and give thanks several times a day for the ordinary things you often take for granted.
- Focus a Life on Jesus – God judges the heart of a person. He does not judge the outside appearance, amount of money, or accomplishments. Yet, most of a person’s jealousy and envy relate to things that are of little interest to God. A person can gain peace in their heart when they live their life to love God and feel grateful that God has saved them from their issues. Romans 5:8, “But God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
- Pray and Grow – Prayer is essential in communicating our thoughts with God. Each person has different skills, talents, and abilities. Proper growth comes from understanding what these are and utilizing them to serve something other than yourself.
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).