When I witness someone doing something I wish I could do, my conscience registers this feeling as jealousy; but this isn’t necessarily a trait I’d like to associate myself with and so in order to help me sleep better at night, I’ve frequently asked myself: is jealousy really a bad thing?
feeling resentment against a rival, a person enjoying success or advantage, etc., or against another’s success or advantage itself.
mental uneasiness from suspicion or fear of rivalry, unfaithfulness, etc. as in love or aims.
What does the Bible say?
“But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.” James 3:14 – 16
“Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” Philippians 2:3
Okay, cool, I get it, jealousy is wrong, but what about envy? Surely this is okay, maybe this describes what I feel a bit better.
a feeling of discontent or covetousness with regard to another’s advantages, success, possessions, etc.
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant.” 1 Corinthians 13:4
The truth is that in the majority of cases, envy and jealousy are interchangeable, so let’s move past the technicalities: it is wrong! The fact of the matter is this: there is no justifying jealousy.
Society doesn’t make it easy, my generation has literally grown up in a time where comparison is a way of life, we scroll through our phones and computers with the sole purpose of comparing our lives to everyone else- whether or not we realise it. Social media continues to thrive and so does our desire to be better than the strangers we see on our Instagram explore page- placing ourselves in constant competition.
I really had to check myself at this point, it was time to stop making silly excuses- looking for comfort within my sin would get me nowhere.
I believed deep down in the depths of my heart, that if I felt mostly happy about someone’s achievements, let’s say 90%, that the 10% of resentment or discontentment was irrelevant. But it only takes a single negative thought to manifest into malicious words or actions. No matter how small, there was clearly still 10% of my heart that needed to be purified.
I wrote a post towards the end of last year titled Your Race, Your Pace… which touches on the subject and here I am discussing it again; I’ll be honest, I could write a million posts from a million different perspectives on this topic in the hopes of trying to validate my feelings but that won’t solve my problem.
Putting myself in check was the first step. As with most things, when I identify a problem I simply can’t find the answers to, I ask the big guy upstairs who holds all the answers. He didn’t delay in His response. This was the second step.
“But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’” Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use?” Romans 9:20-21
I can’t lie, I was really hoping God would come back to me with some kind of loophole, I was being lazy, I didn’t want to have to add something else to my list of things to improve on. These words really cut me deep. What gave me the audacity to see someone else making moves and question why God hadn’t made me capable of doing the same? As if He hadn’t created us both equally with our own unique destiny and purpose?
Staying in your own lane is easier said than done, focussing on your own life will keep you busy and it does help, but it won’t solve your problem 100%. A jealous spirit is not one that disappears because it is ignored, it is one that needs to be purged. When you focus on your own goals, dreams, and aspirations, it is likely that you will come across people who motivate or inspire you and in some cases, you may start to feel jealous of these people.
My advice is to focus not on yourself but on your creator. Whether you choose to do this by undertaking a fast, changing your daily lifestyle or both, placing your concentration on your maker and pursuing the purpose He has laid out for you will teach you how to love- the kind of love that purifies your heart of negativity such as jealousy.
When you are working towards something that fulfils a God-given purpose, it won’t matter how far ahead the next person is because ultimately, you know where it is you’re going and you are certain that you will get there. It is easy to get distracted by the works of people around you when you have no true aim or faith in the journey.
Start by learning more about Him: take the time to get to know the one who knows everything there is to know about you.
All the best,