Everyone struggles with it at some time or other but nobody wants to talk about it. It's difficult to avoid it entirely and embarrassing to admit it.
Raw jealousy - the kind that eats at your insides and makes you say or do things you're sure to regret.
People ask me sometimes: What's the difference between envy and jealousy? Envy is wanting what someone else has. Jealousy is wanting what someone else has but ALSO wishing they would lose it. Envy covets your house; jealousy wants it to burn down! Jealousy is envy out of control.
Jealousy develops for many reasons - wealth, homes, cars, positions, promotions, possessions and affections. Envy takes place in your thoughts. You see someone else preferred over you at your office; you envy their position. While it is still a thought, the only person who suffers is you. It is at this juncture that we need to take control of our thoughts, recognize the envy and choose instead to be happy for the other person's success or position.
However, if we don't stop ourselves, jealousy creeps into our hearts and turns our inner face green while we continue to wear our 'plastic' smile. The next step is some kind of action or behavior whose goal is to hurt or injure the other person in some way. If only we would stop at the 'envy stage'!
There's a reason why the 9th and 10th commandment begin with these words: 'You shall not envy...' There isn't a commandment that says: 'You shall not be jealous.' God knew that if we would obey the commandment 'You shall not envy...' we would never have to deal with jealousy! We would have stopped it in our thoughts before it ever cripples our emotions and influences our behavior.
Jealousy is defined as
1) threatened self-esteem,
2) resentment toward the success or stature of a rival or friend,
3) hostility towards someone you believe enjoys an advantage you don't have,
4) fear of being replaced or supplanted,
5) irritation at someone who gets more attention than you think they deserve,
6) agitation at seeing others get what they want while you don't get what you want!.
Whoa - there's a recipe for a boatload of stress!
Confronting our jealousy and envy is painful, embarrassing and uncomfortable but confront it we must, if we are serious about becoming Christlike. Taking control of our thoughts is where it starts. No wonder Paul admonished us to 'take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.' 2 Corinthians 10:5
It is the same Paul who gave us a perfect formula for overcoming envy and its offspring, jealousy:
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Philippians 4:8
May we heed the apostle's advice and guard our hearts against envy and jealousy.