When is the last time you were jealous of somebody? That particular emotion, when unrestrained, often intensifies and leads to anger and sin. Cain was jealous of the Lord’s favor on Abel and his better offering, and consequently murdered his brother. Jacob’s sons were jealous of their father’s love for Joseph so they sold him to the Midianites, hoping to never see him again. Even though he was king, Saul was jealous of David’s popularity and success and repeatedly tried to kill him. The Pharisees were jealous of Jesus’ popularity and following, and conducted unlawful court sessions to sentence Him to death.
Are you coveting another person’s role in your church or community or workplace? How do you react when a less qualified person gets promoted over you, or perhaps someone else in the church is given the position you desired, or when a competing business is more successful than yours? It doesn’t take much to feel the pangs of jealousy, unfairness, or resentment.
Success, good looks, ability, or the good fortune of others often create envy or covetousness in those who are insecure. The Lord told Cain that unless he gained control over his desires, sin would prevail (Genesis 4:3-8). However, spiritual maturity overcomes jealousy’s detrimental feelings.
Jonathan was supposed to succeed his father (Saul) as king, but he knew David was going to get the throne instead of him. Jonathan could have become jealous; conversely, he accepted God’s will. As a result of his strong faith, Jonathan bonded with David in a godly friendship and helped him (1 Samuel 20).
Love enables us to be happy for other people instead of being jealous. According to 1Corinthians 13:4, love does not envy. When we personally experience God’s love, we are more secure and at peace, and can love our neighbors as ourselves. We can be satisfied or content with our portion because we receive blessings when we are living in God’s will.
The Bible repeatedly states that jealousy is part of man’s sinful nature. Since the Lord looks at our hearts and ambitions, so should we. For what reason do we desire another person’s possessions, position, or power? The seven sons of Sceva wanted to copy Paul and cast out demons. Although it was a noble cause, their motivation for performing that activity was wrong and they were beaten up by an evil spirit and humiliated (Acts 19). We are to glorify the Lord, not ourselves, as we serve Him.
If God chooses a smaller, unappealing, or less visible role for you in His kingdom, answer the call cheerfully. Jealousy has no place in the body of believers because every contribution is of equal importance to God. Are you content with God’s calling and purpose for your life? Are you serving Him by giving your best effort in everything you do, and relying on Him for the results? When your situation is frustrating, remind yourself that God knows about it (and your future), and that His plan for your life is good.
The next time the spirit of jealousy attacks you, remember that your sovereign Lord loves you, and His special relationship with you has other benefits that are better than another person’s temporary circumstances. Having a personal relationship with the Lord and living by the Spirit overpowers jealousy (Galatians 5:16-26).
When we lower our worldly ambitions and raise our godly ones, we follow Jonathan’s example. We then receive a deeper peace and joy in our lives. Let’s ask God to forgive our self-centeredness and to fill us with His love and humility. Those attributes not only conquer jealousy, but also bring rewards from God.