Although jealousy runs rampant in our world, it is possible to live free from the clutches of the green-eyed monster.
A heart that has received the love of God and embraced His grace and mercy is satisfied with God’s provision and plan for his or her life–it is enough! Jealous people are the most miserable, unhappy people in the world. William Penn once said, “The jealous are troublesome to others but a torment to themselves.” Jealousy is a destructive force in the heart of an individual and in relationships.
When one person has something another wants, the stage is set for jealousy. A person may compare themselves to someone with great looks, more gifts and talents, a handsome, attentive husband, well-behaved children, a bigger house, a great career or ministry. The Apostle Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 10:12 that when we compare ourselves to one another we are foolish. One translation says “They are not wise.” We always come up short when we compare with others. Either we feel badly because we don’t measure up to what we believe is acceptable or get puffed up with pride if we are living in an attitude of “one up”.
Years ago, I interviewed for a great job with a subsidiary of one of the largest corporations in America. The candidates had been narrowed down to two finalists and I was one of them. I wanted the position so badly that I could taste it and was devastated when the final word arrived that the other candidate had been chosen. My interview had gone amazingly well and beyond my wildest expectations. To say that I hit it off with the vice president who interviewed me is an understatement. We clicked immediately and I was clearly well qualified for the position. Following the interview, he shared with one of his employees (who later told me) that he had tossed and turned all night, struggling with the decision of who to hire. He told her that I was the most qualified for the job and that he felt we would make a great team.
Regardless, he chose the other applicant which made absolutely no sense to me. A few days later when I received word of his decision, you could have knocked me over with a feather. I was in absolute shock!
I was mad! I was jealous of the person who won out over me, and I was mad at God. After all, I had prayed this through and sought counsel. I had asked and believed. Where was God in all this, I thought? As ridiculous as it may seem, I felt abandoned by God. My heart cried out, “Where are you, God–why don’t you do something?” As you have probably guessed, I got over it and forgave God. I’m sure he was shaking in His heavenly boots!
Finally, I determined to trust that He knew best although it was very disappointing.
It was about six months later when I discovered that the subsidiary of this huge company had gone belly up. They were closing the doors and all their employees were left without jobs. In spite of my lousy attitude and response, God protected me. And, to top it off, a few months later I was promoted to a position far superior to the former one. The new job, as many observed, was perfect for me. I knew that it was handmade by God just for me. It was a public relations position where I traveled, met interesting people all over the country and literally looked forward to waking up each day and going to work. All my gifts and talents were utilized and I was paid well to do the thing I love to do: helping people better themselves.
I believe God used that job to prepare me in many ways for my future and some of the things I do today.
Through it all, I learned that God has a plan for me. His plan is just for me and it doesn’t fit anyone but me. That’s why I don’t have to be envious or jealous if someone else gets promoted or receives opportunities that I don’t. That is God’s plan for them–not for me. I wish that I had learned this truth many years ago. Life would have been simpler, easier and so much happier.
“It is the character of very few men (or women) to honor without envy a friend who has prospered.” -Aeschylus
Jealous begins in infancy. Babies are used to receiving attention from their parents. If that gets disrupted by another, they demand it back. A little toddler will put his claim on a certain toy. If other children take it away, he reacts, “Mine.”
In families, there is often partiality and favoritism shown. Without realizing it, parents will describe the accomplishments of one child–comparing them to another–everything from how quickly one was potty trained to how quickly they were off the bottle. They boast of how early they walked or compare their grades in school. When that happens, all the elements for sibling rivalry have been established. In some families, quarreling, division and strife are commonplace where a breeding ground for jealousy has existed. James 3:16 says, “Where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.”
If a person perceives that another has an advantage over them, they can become resentful and jealous. A jealous person doesn’t know satisfaction and contentment. I believe part of the dissatisfaction is because they don’t have the desires of their heart.
At the root of jealousy is disappointment. Jealousy begins when a person experiences others around them possessing what they don’t have. Disappointments are broken dreams and unmet expectations. Jealousy can be defined as feelings of hostility toward a rival or one believed to enjoy an advantage over them. A missionary to the Philippines once told me,“Don’t ever envy another person’s ministry—because you don’t know how much it cost them.”
Is there an antidote for jealousy? I believe that it is in knowing the love of God and having received His grace. When we do, our hearts are at peace with His plan and provision for our lives. Disappointment can be dreadful and even heartbreaking. However, when we know our purpose and partner with God in prayer, jealousy can be defeated.
In addition to knowing God’s plan and purpose, you may need to forgive someone for the disappointments you have experienced. Perhaps you need to forgive an individual who is responsible, forgive yourself or God. When you do, you will not only receive peace for your life, but you can also enjoy the blessings in the lives of others without resenting them.
Let me encourage you to develop an attitude of gratitude to defeat jealousy. Jealousy wants what someone else possesses. If we are busy being thankful for what God has given us, jealousy has no place.
*Article originally posted in Destiny in Bloom. Used with permission.