Jealousy is an ugly emotion. The Bible lists it among other deadly sins – sloth, gluttony, lust. It’s mentioned in the 10 Commandments. “Love,” Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 13, “does not envy.”
I remember the first time I felt the icy pangs of jealousy. I was in grade school and my desk mate arrived on the first day of class with a Lisa Frank Trapper Keeper. Those of you born in the 80s know what I’m talking about – the bright, pink-and-rainbow themed collection of puppy and kitten and horse infused girly girl school supplies that reigned in the late 80s and early 90s.
My mom wasn’t keen on spending money on frivolity when regular, primary-colored binders could be had for a quarter.
I wanted that binder. I needed that binder. Most of all, I was angry that my desk mate had that binder and I didn’t. If I couldn’t have it, I reasoned, she shouldn’t either.
In young adulthood, envy continued to raise its ugly head. I no longer longed for Lisa Frank school supplies, but I envied my engaged college roommate, a classmate who landed a dream internship, a friend who went straight from the dorms to an acting gig in New York City.
Oddly enough my jealousy wasn’t often even rooted in the objects themselves. While Hillary’s fiancé was a great guy, he wasn’t my type. I was simply jealous of her engagement. I hadn’t competed against the classmate who landed the internship and lost–she applied for it; I didn’t. I genuinely wished my actor-friend success; film wasn’t my aspiration.
Yet envy assumes a zero-sum game, that success for another means something has been taken away from us. That simply isn’t true.
Jealousy is a crippling emotion. It strips us of satisfaction in what we do have, in what God has given, in the challenges and encouragements and blessings set before us that are unique to who we are and who God is calling us to be.
From Romans 13:
The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. 12 The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13 Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. 14 Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.
The day is almost here. As we step into the light, let us lift each other up rather than longing for what God has not given.
Let us cheer each other on, knowing that a joy or a win or a blessing given to one person in the body of Christ blesses us all.
When do you feel most jealous? How can you take off your jealousy and “clothe yourself with the Lord Jesus Christ” this week?