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You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
~James 4:2-3~ NIV
Jealousy and envy breed hatred and contempt. Such hatred can motivate a person to do some downright evil things. It causes our words to become like poison, bringing death and destruction to all who dare to cross us. It can cause us to covet another’s possessions, status, position, spouse, body, friends, family, etc. It can cause a man or woman to become so filled with hatred that they see no wrong in using an innocent child as ransom to control and manipulate his mother. And it can even cause one to become so filled with rage that he or she would kill.
This is just a small, yet very real look and the pain and destruction that jealousy can bring. Yet we often tend to normalize jealousy and envy and justify our actions when someone else has something that we want, yet are not willing to work hard enough to acquire for ourselves.
Let’s take a look a what the Bible has to say about jealousy and envy:
In order to battle jealousy, the root causes must be discerned. Jealousy typically grows out of insecurity, fear, deception, or covetousness. The Bible addresses these roots of jealousy several times.
Some people may wonder: ‘What does the Bible say about overcoming jealousy?’ Let us explore the answer to this pressing question. In order to battle jealousy, the root causes must be discerned. Jealousy typically grows out of insecurity, fear, deception, or covetousness. The Bible addresses these roots of jealousy several times.
Personal insecurity can breed a host of jealous strife. Often times, we base our security on the opinion, affirmation, and acceptance of other people. When we feel rejected or unloved we become dangerously insecure leading us to perceive the strengths of other people as threats to our own well being.
To biblically battle the impediment of insecurity we must turn to God through His Word to tell us once again of His unfailing love and acceptance. Completing this task will take active engagement in the battle through research, reflection, and prayer. Start by looking up all the verses in the Bible related to God’s love and acceptance. Here are some passages to get you started:
But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, for he has been good to me (Psalm 13:5-6).
Within your temple, O God, we meditate on your unfailing love (Psalm 48:9).
Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul (Psalm 143:8).
For the sake of his great name the Lord will not reject his people, because the Lord was pleased to make you his own (1 Samuel 12:22).
Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me (Psalm 27:10).
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light (1 Peter 2:9).
Jealousy typically grows out of insecurity, fear, deception, or covetousness.
Fear can be another instigator of jealousy. A life of fear is just as devastating to relationships as insecurity. Controlling through fear will not help you maintain the relationships or positions you desire. There is nothing we can hang on to that is worth what we are giving up. This cryptic statement refers to the peace we can know through Jesus Christ when we give Him free reign over our lives. In the end, jealousy does not keep, it pushes away!
To overcome fear you need to first recognize what you fear, confess before God, and then transform your thoughts through God’s Word. Here are some verses to ponder:
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love (1 John 4:18).
For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father” (Romans 8:15).
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery (Galatians 5:1).
To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy (Jude 24).
Deception can also play a role in cultivating jealousy in your heart. You may perceive a threat that in reality does not exist. Your perception of life is distorted due to lies you believe about others and yourself. The following Scriptures can help you battle the lies.
You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free (John 8:32). Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long (Psalm 25:4-5).
Do not snatch the word of truth from my mouth, for I have put my hope in your laws (Psalm 119:43).
I have not spoken in secret, from somewhere in a land of darkness; I have not said to Jacob’s descendants, “Seek me in vain.” I, the Lord, speak the truth; I declare what is right (Isaiah 45:19).
The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth (Psalm 145:18).
But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come (John16:13).
Covetousness is a deep desire to obtain a possession of another person. This leads to aggressive jealousy that is often spoken against in the Bible. The Ten Commandments address the issue: “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor” (Exodus 20:17). Covetousness invades when you are not satisfied with the blessings God has bestowed upon you. Dissatisfaction is only a terrible thing when we don’t let it lead us to Christ. Listen to the refreshing truth of Scripture regarding satisfaction in God:
Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, for each one should carry his own load (Galatians 6:4-5).
This is what the Lord says — your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go. If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river, your righteousness like the waves of the sea (Isaiah 48:17-18).
Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you (Isaiah 46:4).
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? (Matthew 6:25)
You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing (Psalm 145:16).
The key to biblically overcoming jealousy is to discern the roots of your jealousy and then battle them with the truth of God’s Word. Put into practice the challenge in Romans 12:1-2: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God — this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will.”