On Jealousy


“I can’t go to her shower. I can’t bear to watch that right now.”

“My sister got pregnant before me. I cried for days. I’m so furious.”

“Ugh, I hate them. They got pregnant just thinking about trying to have another one. And it’s twins!”

This isn’t going to be a popular post. I’ve been thinking about this subject for a while, writing and rewriting my thoughts, changing my mind. But I feel obligated, seeing such a lack of truth-based teaching and encouragement on the web, and people reading this blog for some. I’m sure I’m not your only source for that, but if you’re reading, I feel compelled to speak truth, even if it hurts a little.

You have to know that jealousy is a sin. Coveting (longing for) what your “neighbor” has was condemned way back in the 10 Commandments. It’s still warned about in the New Testament, as a sin that eats away at you, controlling and destroying you. Galatians 5 lists it twice [as jealousy and envy] in the sins that separate us instantly from God: “The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality,impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy […] Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.”

Everyone’s favorite passage, 1 Corinthians 13, reminds us that “…love is not jealous…” — and we are commanded to love each other, over and over again. It’s true that jealousy is not loving. When we express frustration over someone getting pregnant before or more easily than us, we are really just saying, “No one deserves to be happy if I’m not/until I’m happy.” That’s so unloving. If you are to love your neighbor as yourself, shouldn’t you be wanting for her the things you want for yourself? Let me answer: yes, you should. And if this doesn’t come naturally, that’s not an excuse not to do it. It’s a reason to cultivate that within yourself.

In our life goals as Christians, we look to God’s ultimate command“Be holy just as I am holy.” This should be the end aim of all we do. We want to be holy [ie, sinless]. I don’t think there are conditional clauses to this. It’s not “Be holy, unless it hurts really badly,” or “Be holy, unless this keeps going on forever,” or “Be holy with the first three women, but after that you can just give up,” or “Be holy as long as someone else’s situation is the same as yours.” No, you guys, we don’t have an excuse for why we “get to” or “deserve to” be jealous.

Paul talks of his attitude during struggle, in another great verse everyone over-quotes out of context.

I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

He says he learned to be content — he wasn’t naturally content. He learned to face these circumstances. He worked at it, learning from his situation and learning to be holy. Paul had some tough situations, too, so don’t pull the old “Well he didn’t have it as hard as me.” We can learn a lot from Paul’s attitude and aim of holiness, by letting go of our sinful inclinations and excuses, and controlling our hearts and minds to choose holiness over sinful envy.