When I was pondering and praying over what to write for this week, it took me awhile to come up with what I was actually going to say.
Sometimes I get ideas from external sources such as current events, sermons fresh or old, or an article I’ve read.
Sometimes they come from my own life: issues that the Holy Spirit or the Word of God points out within me, an experience I or someone I know went through, observations of people or interactions, or something I did or that happened to me.
Today’s blog is based on an insidious cancer that has always been rampant in the body of Christ (or else the Lord would not have told us not to do it, right?).
I’ve seen it often over a lifetime of ministry and church involvement, as many of you have. This cancer is is especially ugly in Christian singles groups. Its self-delusion and self-destructiveness have no bounds.
Jealousy. It’s ugly.
Peace of mind makes the body healthy, but jealousy is like a cancer. Proverbs 14:30 GNT
Jealousy is what makes Christian women run off female visitors so they can guard the few eligible single Christian men in their group that they’re trying to get to marry them.
You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure. James 4:2-3 NLV
Jealousy is what makes a leader eye another, whose talents or contributions they hate, with suspicion and start rumors to force them out of ministry.
The envious die not once, but as oft as the envied win applause. Baltasar Gracián
But if you are bitterly jealous and filled with self-centered ambition, don’t brag. Don’t say that you are wise when it isn’t true.That kind of wisdom doesn’t come from above. It belongs to this world. It is self-centered and demonic. Wherever there is jealousy and rivalry, there is disorder and every kind of evil. James 3:14-16 GW
Jealousy is what makes a single man put himself physically between the girl he’s trying to get romantically involved with and any new men who might come to the Bible study and eyeball them with suspicion.
For you are still only baby Christians, controlled by your own desires, not God’s. When you are jealous of one another and divide up into quarreling groups, doesn’t that prove you are still babies, wanting your own way? In fact, you are acting like people who don’t belong to the Lord at all. I Corinthians 3:3 TLB
Jealousy will make a singles pastor’s wife catty and unreasonably possessive, defensive, dismissive, and harsh when the women in his group approach him with problems, when she could have loved and counseled them instead (No, not in my current church! Our Mrs. Singles Pastor, Barbara, is a beautiful, open soul and we all love her! This is more typical when the pastor was single and met his wife outside the group.)
When there are dissensions, and jealousies, and evil speakings among professors of religion, then there is great need of a revival. These things show that Christians have got far from God, and it is time to think earnestly of a revival. Charles Finney
Do nothing from factional motives [through contentiousness, strife, selfishness, or for unworthy ends] or prompted by conceit and empty arrogance. Instead, in the true spirit of humility (lowliness of mind) let each regard the others as better than and superior to himself [thinking more highly of one another than you do of yourselves]. Philippians 2:3 AMPC
Being jealous of dating, engaged, or married people will often make single Christians not only groan, whine, and agonize over their own single status, it will cause them to complain, covet, make poor decisions based on desperation, and become bitter about what that couple has.
Insecure people only eclipse your sun because they’re jealous of your daylight and tired of their dark, starless nights. Shannon L. Alder
Jealousy is a common human emotion. It’s that anxious, suspicious, disgruntled, angry feeling that comes from the possibility that you might be supplanted. Overshadowed. Replaced. Romantically, or for attention, significance, power, or ministry.
Jealousy is different from envy.
Envy is malicious coveting. It’s a craving usually—though not always—for something material; a lust, a wanting something someone else has that you don’t have: a bigger house, a newer car, talented children, a clean past, a natural ability or skill, a better figure or appearance, a bigger salary, a good-looking dating partner or spouse. However, sometimes you don’t think they should have it, either. Then it’ll make you go on a gossiping witch hunt for anything that you can get your hands on to prove that they didn’t earn it and/or don’t deserve what they have.
And oft, my jealousy shapes faults that are not. William Shakespeare
It is never wise to seek or wish for another’s misfortune. If malice or envy were tangible and had a shape, it would be the shape of a boomerang. Charley Reese
The Bible has nothing good to say about this rotting fruit of the flesh. The closest to just your basic, non-condemning commentary on human nature regarding jealousy is Proverbs 6:34 HCSB: For jealousy enrages a husband, and he will show no mercy when he takes revenge. (There is a passage in the Pentateuch giving temple instructions to a husband who thinks his wife is cheating; see Numbers 5:11-30.)
It’s not good when you have an irritated, lustful eye after something or some person someone else has. The fruit of flesh produces darkness in us, a darkness you do not want, my dear single Christian. When you follow the selfish desires of your heart and that train of thought, the outcome is never good.
When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God. Galatians 5:19-21 NLT
The Bible is clear that these evil works of the flesh is evidence of what’s inside you, and that they can’t stay inside you if you claim to belong to Him.
But what comes out of the mouth gets its start in the heart. It’s from the heart that we vomit up evil arguments, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, lies, and cussing. That’s what pollutes. Matthew 15:18-19 MSG
How can you deal with this socially acceptable, pervasive, and all-consuming green-eyed monster? As iron is eaten by rust, so are the envious consumed by envy. Antisthenes
Seven Steps for Eradicating Jealousy and Envy from Your Heart so You Can Have Real Life
1. Recognize that you are jealous. Admit to yourself that when you see whatshername or whatshisname, that s/he makes you feel jealous and envious because “they have/they can/they did (fill in the blank ).” Own it. Stop comparing yourself to that person (Oh, don’t worry; we wouldn’t dare say that we are as wonderful as these other men who tell you how important they are! But they are only comparing themselves with each other, using themselves as the standard of measurement. How ignorant! 2 Corinthians 10:12 NLT). And stop projecting your issues onto the object of your jealousy. Your eyes are windows into your body. If you open your eyes wide in wonder and belief, your body fills up with light. If you live squinty-eyed in greed and distrust, your body is a dank cellar. If you pull the blinds on your windows, what a dark life you will have! Matthew 6:34 MSG
2. Confess it to the Lord for the rancid, fleshly, self-destructive sin that it is. If we tell Him our sins, He is faithful and we can depend on Him to forgive us of our sins. He will make our lives clean from all sin. 1 John 1:9 NLV
3. Begin praying for God’s blessings on that person you were so jealous of.
4. Ask the Lord to give you a heart of genuine, Christ-like love to replace the bitterness, anger, deceit, and malice that drove you before. Ask for help in seeing both you and the object of your envy from Christ’s perspective; start walking by faith and not by sight. Love endures with patience and serenity, love is kind and thoughtful, and is not jealous or envious; love does not brag and is not proud or arrogant. I Corinthians 13:4 AMP
But the fruit that comes from having the Holy Spirit in our lives is: love, joy, peace, not giving up, being kind, being good, having faith, 23 being gentle, and being the boss over our own desires. The Law is not against these things. Galatians 5:22-23 NLV
5. Learn to be content and grateful to God and others for what you have. Envy is the art of counting the other fellow’s blessings instead of your own. Harold G. Coffin This will help you develop the character and patience needed to wait for God’s best for you, whether it’s for mate or for ministry. So give yourselves to God. Stand against the devil and he will run away from you. Come close to God and He will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners. Clean up your hearts, you who want to follow the sinful ways of the world and God at the same time. James 4:7-8 NLV
6. Learn what that person’s love language is and ask the Lord to give you ideas for blessing that person. You obey the whole Law when you do this one thing, “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” But if you hurt and make it hard for each other, watch out or you may be destroyed by each other. Galatians 5:14-15 NLV. If you don’t know what the 5 love languages are, here’s a nice review: http://www.focusonthefamily.com/marriage/communication-and-conflict/learn-to-speak-your-spouses-love-language/understanding-the-five-love-languages
7. Focus on your own issues and get to work dealing with them.
For instance, if he has a nice, big house and you don’t, learn to be content with what you can afford, or ask the Lord’s direction for how you can earn more money to get one. Maybe you need to complete your degree, work smarter, or change jobs to become more upwardly mobile. Consider: do you really need a bigger, nicer house? Don’t let pride destroy your heart and your budget.
For instance, if she’s trim and you’re overweight, start making the lifestyle changes you know you need to make so that you can start losing the weight you want to lose. Eat differently. Drink more water and less soda. Start working out, even if all you have time to do is walk around the parking lot during breaks.
Ultimately, your identity, worth, and significance do not come from who’s in your life or what you own. Your identity, worth, and significance come from who you are in the Lord. Those whom you envy may or may not know that you’re jealous, but they are going to keep focused on what they’re supposed to be doing that’s making them happy and that’s keeping you so unhappy. Our envy always lasts longer than the happiness of those we envy. François de La Rochefoucauld
You may as well grow up and learn to forge your own identity in Christ based on righteousness, not on sinful and fleshly desires. For a further discussion on this topic, see my introductory blog (01/10/16) and first blog article, “Who Are You?” (01/11/16).
A competent and self-confident person is incapable of jealousy in anything. Jealousy is invariably a symptom of neurotic insecurity. Robert A. Heinlein
Finally, my single Christian friends, Do not let sin have power over you. Let good have power over sin! Romans 12:21 NLV
Chan, Amanda L. How to keep jealousy and envy from ruining your life. Article for the Huffington Post 4/24/14. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/24/jealousy-envy_n_5186248.html accessed 10/22/16
Chapman, Gary. Understanding the five love languages. Article for Focus on the Family website.
Ferguson, Grace. How to overcome jealousy in the workplace. Article for the Houston Chronicle.
http://work.chron.com/overcome-jealousy-workplace-4060.html accessed 10/22/16
Moran, Amy. Mentally strong people don’t resent other people’s success. Article for Psychology Today. 9/3/16. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/what-mentally-strong-people-dont-do/201609/mentally-strong-people-dont-resent-other-peoples accessed 10/22/16
Pin, José Ramón & Stein, Guido. Jealous leader’s behaviour: the Othello boss syndrome. Article for European Business Review. 01/20/14. http://www.europeanbusinessreview.com/jealous-leaders-behaviour-the-othello-boss-syndrome/ accessed 10/22/16
Warren, Rick. Why envy is a ministry killer. Article for Pastors.com 4/23/12. http://pastors.com/why-envy-is-a-ministry-killer/ accessed 10/22/16