1 Corinthians 13:4 (NASB) “Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant,”
Depending on which translation of the bible you prefer you will often see the words jealous and envious interchanged with the other. The reason of course is both words can have similar negative meanings.
As the dictionary describes:
- Jealousy : an unhappy or angry feeling of wanting to have what someone else has.
- Envy : painful or resentful awareness of an advantage enjoyed by another joined with a desire to possess the same advantage
But the word jealousy here is not to be confused with the positive use of the word when the bible says, “God is a jealous God and even His name is Jealous.” (Ex. 34:14), and the same thing was meant by Paul in (2 cor. 11:2) when he said, “For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy.”
So it is obvious there is a difference between a godly jealousy and an ungodly jealousy. The ungodly jealousy is what can also be interpreted as envy. God’s type of jealousy wants to protect us and the ungodly jealousy wants to possess us.
The type of jealousy that is similar to envy is what the bible also refers to as the root cause of disorder and evil in this world.
James 3:16 (NASB) “For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing.”
So, when we are jealous or envious we are allowing something to operate in our lives that works in direct opposition to love and against what God wants in our lives. It is not something we want to play around with. There is a reason for the phrases “green with envy,” and “green-eyed monster.” Those phrases give the idea of being filled with sickness. And that’s what it is, envy and jealousy is a sickness.
- Envy is a sickness that is shallow and self-centered. It’s all about us and what we want with little or no concern for others.
- Envy is subtle and sly. We would be surprised by how often we are envious and jealous if we really examined our thoughts and our motives.
- Envy starts with our thoughts and takes hold in our heart. When we allow it to take hold of our hearts it becomes a bitter sickness that is hard to get free of.
- Envy kills. If we allow it to remain it will kill our relationships, our opportunities and our own lives.
Love is the cure
Jesus said there are two great commandments. Love God and love one another. He said all of the law would be fulfilled if we did those two things. In other words when we love the way He commands us to love we are fulfilling God’s righteous standard. If we love, we will not kill. If we love we will not steal. If we love we will not commit adultery. And if we love we will not covet what others have.
So what do you do when you find yourself feeling jealous and having envious thoughts? You turn your love toward the other person or situation.
- Use your love as a weapon. Use love to counter attack the situation. Use love to move away from self awareness and become more others aware.
- Pray for the other people’s well-being. When you pray for someone else’s well-being you are aligning yourself and your will with God’s will.
- Do something good to bless those you are feeling jealous toward. Your actions will move your thoughts and feelings toward a more loving position.
- Rejoice and be glad for other people’s blessings. God is not running short on blessings. He has enough for them and you too.
We need help
Lastly, we cannot live up to God’s standard of love on our own. Anytime we find ourselves acting in an unloving way such as thinking envious thoughts toward others, we should surrendered that to the Lord. We need to repent from it and ask God for His help.
The change in how we feel may not take place right away and we might still have to fight off those feelings and thoughts, but we have to stay persistent. And always keep in mind that it’s not about our failure and our weakness. Those are the reasons we needed a savior in the first place. The important thing to remember is, it’s His perfect love we are wanting in our lives and the only way we are going to have it is with His help working in us.
Question: Do you ever struggle with jealousy and envy? I know I still do sometimes. Feel fee to share in our comments. We would love to hear from you.