Thursday, June 8, 2017

Jealousy and Envy

Human beings were created in the image of God. One of God's characteristics  is jealousy.
Exodus 20:5 "Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them (other gods), nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God..."
Hence, jealousy is a human trait, and all that God does is good. Therefore, some jealousy is natural for the right reasons. In this case God is jealous of other gods with whom his bride fornicates; His people being His bride.

It would seem reasonable, then, that humans can be spiritually healthy, and be jealous of their mate. Indeed, without jealousy there remains apathy. Jealousy is hostility toward a rival or being vigilant toward ones possessions.  (Merriam-Webster Dictionary). Marriage partners are in unity, and hence belong to each other. They are each others possessions for the duration of life. If there is to much attention given to the mate, or the mate to another, jealousy is a natural emotion. Some jealousy is expected as a demonstration of love. (Of course, sometimes one mate wishes the other didn't love them quite too much because excessive jealousy can make a relationship more of a prison).

God is jealous of us but we're not imprisoned by Him. He could have created mankind such that there was no need for jealousy, but when he gave mankind a will, then choice was included. Because humans are free to make decisions, just as God can, He allows us to be jealous. Hence, our jealousy is not a prison unless we construct one. Of course, nobody wills to be imprisoned, but the human nature with which all humans are born, seek slavery over freedom. That's because sin is slavery:
Galatians 5:1 (ESV) "For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery."
Since undue jealousy is sinful, then the jealous person enslaves themselves by their own uncontrolled emotion. We are all called to self-control because our self gets, well, selfish!
Titus 1:8 (ESV) "But hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined."
Sin is essentially lack of love of God because sinners don't care enough for God to care what His will is. Hate is the absence of love. Therefore, jealousy is the emotion that vacates love, which yields hatred. In fact, extreme jealousy creates insecurity, stress, anxiety in oneself and hatred for another. Hate is that prison in which the anxious person is imprisoned.

Jealousy is not only a result of loving someone selfishly, but includes envy: a painful or resentful awareness of an advantage enjoyed by another joined with a desire to possess the same advantage. (Merriam-Webster Dictionary). Envy is the emotion of jealousy because another has an advantage you want. The sin is called coveting:
Exodus 20:17 "Thou shalt not covet... any thing that is thy neighbour's."
Coveting is wanting strongly whatever advantage another has.  You see, there is a continuum between excessive jealousy and coveting -  the sin.

When I was young many of my friends were older and more established. They had nice things that I didn't. I barely made ends meet, and my family and I actually went hungry while my church friends were affluent. I never was jealous of what they had because it was theirs. They worked for it. Why should I have automatically, what they worked hard to get? Of course, I didn't deserve what was theirs. With that attitude, God blessed me. With hard work, over the years, I became affluent. I believe that if I had coveted what was theirs, I would not have been blessed.

In life there is competition. We all are rivals for things. It may be for love, wealth, recognition, status, or about anything. I like to see my competition for these things be successful. Their success has no bearing on my own status. Some, it seems, want others to be minimized or fail, to effectually build their own esteem.

I write because I love to. I have even written a few books. However, I am not a writer; I'm merely a man with ideas that I want to share. Most of those ideas are religious or political. As long as I can get my ideas out there, I have met my objective. If others get more of their ideas out there, that's no reason for jealousy; I am glad for them. I will not put myself in a prison of envy as they succeed!

We are all human. Envy and petty jealousy are just other ways to hate our neighbors. We must love one another, and that means being happy when they are successful in spite of our own lack of success. God tells us that if his people love and honor, he'll take care of the prosperity. That doesn't mean richness but happiness. I will rely on God for my contentment, not the failures of others!

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