Please don’t deal with jealousy as a personality disorder. Avoid thinking of it as a genetic trait you never chose. Don’t ascribe it to social environment or upbringing. The Bible never points to any of those factors to discuss jealousy. The Scriptures do, however, deal with it as sinful disobedience. Galatians 5:20 includes it in a group including “hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions.” That’s a deadly gang, and jealousy can cause each of the other four sins listed there. Paul included envy as a sign of “the debased mind,” describing those who are “full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness” (Romans 1:29). Again, an unpleasant roll call of personality traits.
It’s clear from God’s Word, then, that we need to face the sin of jealousy with deadly seriousness. Peter says we are to lay it aside and leave it—to walk away briskly (1 Peter 2:1). James says we will find envy and self-seeking in the places where confusion and every evil thing lurk (James 3:16). Paul wrote to the Romans about jealousy, and he said, “Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in licentiousness [lust] and lewdness, not in strife and envy” (Romans 13:13). According to Matthew, it was envy that delivered Jesus Christ to the cross: “For he knew that because of envy, they had delivered Him” (Matthew 27:18). It’s the ace up the devil’s sleeve, the weapon that never fails.
Jealousy and envy, according to the verses we’ve seen, are right up there with lust, lewdness, drunkenness, murder, and evil-mindedness. We can’t afford to dismiss these as personality disorders. Instead, we need to do four things:
Renounce Jealousy As Sin
Above we have only a sampling of the many scriptural denunciations of this terrible sin. But it’s enough to make us search our hearts, root out any weed of jealousy, and see it for the gross sin that it is. If this is something you struggle with, I recommend that you copy down some of these verses and keep them on note cards beside your bed, on your desk, in your Bible, and everywhere they may remind you of the sin you need to confess and eliminate.
At the very least, envy and jealousy will cause deep pain in your soul and damage to your relationships. At worst, it will consume you and those around you. Begin by calling it sin. Then you can look to the second step.
Remember Your Rival in Prayer
Now it gets interesting. Do you have the discipline to pull this one off? Jesus commanded us more than once to pray for our enemies, for He knew that if we could sincerely do that, the battle would be won. The very second we grab the arm of a rival and walk before the throne of God together, the petty, shameful things quickly dissolve in the radiant light of His grace. You can’t hold on to a jealous grudge with the eyes of heaven upon you.
At the end of the nineteenth century, there were giants on the earth—not the kind we’ve discussed in this book, but giants of the faith and of the pulpit. The city of London had both F. B. Meyer and Charles Haddon Spurgeon, two living legends. London was barely big enough for the two of them. But then in 1904 the great preacher G. Campbell Morgan came to town. Morgan was a world-class Bible expositor, and all of London was buzzing with his arrival.
“It was easy,” said Meyer, “to pray for the success of G. Campbell Morgan when he was in America. But when he came back to England and took a church near to mine, it was something different. The old Adam in me was inclined to jealousy, but I got my heel upon his head, and whether I felt right toward my friend, I determined to act right.” Meyer began to pray for his pulpit rival, day and night, even as he worried about losing members to the hot new preacher in town.
F. B. Meyer later explained, “My church gave a reception for [Morgan], and I acknowledged that if it was not necessary for me to preach Sunday evenings I would dearly love to go and hear him myself. Well, that made me feel right toward him. But just see how the dear Lord helped me out of my difficulty. There was Charles Spurgeon preaching wonderfully on the other side of me. He and Mr. Morgan were so popular, and drew such crowds, that our church caught the overflow, and we had all we could accommodate.”
God not only rewards us when we pray for our enemies and (as Meyer did) act upon the feelings we intend to have, He often brings miracles about in our lives. The weed of jealousy is deep and firmly entrenched, but if you want to drive it out quickly, simply do this: Pray for the person you envy. Pray for him daily. Pray for him even if your teeth and fists are clenched. See if God doesn’t honor your faith and change your heart.
David Jeremiah, Slaying the Giants in Your Life (Nashville, TN: W Pub., 2001), 197–199.
This article excerpted from Slaying the Giants in Your Life.
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