No Need for Jealousy
Categories: Dealing with Emotions, Jesus (Parables), Joseph, Perseverance
Jealousy is a very debilitating emotion and one that needs to be destroyed in order to secure lasting happiness. Four teenagers share inspiration they've gained from the Bible and their personal experiences in overcoming jealousy: Garner Andrew, Celia Hodgson, Jennifer Kidson, and Lily Bonwich.
Jealousy. It's a common feeling but an extremely nasty one. One of the Ten Commandments tells us, "Thou shalt not covet" (Ex. 20:17). It seems like an easy one to follow, but it's really difficult because jealousy finds a way to creep into our lives. You may experience it when you see the girl you like flirting with another guy, or when your friend gets a perfect test score, or a when a classmate is really popular, or when your sibling gets the Christmas present you wanted, or when you see the kid with all the money get anything he wants.
But when we are jealous of what other people have, we hurt ourselves. We miss the good that we have already received from God. Jealousy separates us from God, so it is something we should try to avoid. We can learn how to handle jealousy by studying some of Jesus' parables.
The first one is the parable of the Prodigal Son. The prodigal's older brother -- the one who has been loyal to his father while his younger, reckless brother has been wasting away his inheritance -- becomes jealous of his father's treatment of his younger brother. The older brother asks his father why his irresponsible brother receives a feast when he returns while he himself has received nothing after years of service. The father says to the elder son, "Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine" (Luke 16:31). The father has not forgotten about his elder son. He gives him all he has, including his unconditional love. The brother was jealous for no reason. All he had to realize was that God gives each one of us everything we need, and He never puts us on the back burner. So there is no need to be jealous of what others receive, no matter how much they seem not to deserve it.
Jesus' parable of the laborers in the vineyard also deals with jealousy. A man hires workers to work in his vineyard, and he tells them he will pay them a penny a day. He continues to hire workers throughout the day. At the end of the day, when all the workers gather together to receive their pay, the man pays the workers who had only worked for an hour the same as those who had worked all day. The workers who had worked all day begin to murmur among themselves that this is unfair. The man responds to them, "Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good?" (Matt. 20:15). Why should we be jealous when God gives every man, woman, and child the same? It's important not to fall into the trap of believing we deserve better than the next person just because we have worked harder or longer. God does not reward us according to how long we have served Him. He gives each one of us all good because we are His children.
As we pray and understand the models and parables from the Bible, we come to realize that we are never deprived of what we truly need. We never lack, even if we feel that we are not the smartest, wealthiest, fastest, or prettiest. Why be jealous of someone else when we already have everything we need? It is directly in front of us; we just have to open our eyes and see it for ourselves.
– Garner Andrews
Jealousy is caused by being insecure and thinking that God isn't providing us with everything we need. Jealousy is usually a signal of something that needs fixing, and ignoring it usually makes it worse. Jealousy can lead to harmful actions, such as stealing, lying, or criticizing others. Because of jealous feelings, Cain killed his brother Abel, and Joseph's brothers threw him in a pit and sold him into slavery.
Awhile back, my grades weren't so hot. My sister was getting all A's, and I was so mad at her because I could tell Mom and Dad were so proud of her. Jealousy hit me, and I started putting her down by calling her names like "nerd" and "geek." I got grounded a lot. Finally I saw my sister working extremely hard on some homework and decided to do the same. I put more time into homework and actually did all of it. It was hard work, and a new appreciation for my sister sprouted up. My grades improved, and I learned a lot of study techniques that I still use. I got rid of jealousy and also gained respect from my parents.
I learned that God is always providing me with all I need. I also recognized that I was jealous and was able to heal my own jealousy. One of the biggest mistakes is trying to hide jealousy. It will just get worse. Instead of letting the jealousy grow, we can ask ourselves questions to find out why we feel jealous. The questions could be:
- Do I feel unattractive or uninteresting myself?
- What do I feel insecure about?
- Do I doubt God's love for me?
Once we've figured out what the core discomfort is, then we can figure out how to solve the problem. Maybe talking things out with the person we're jealous of is a good idea. Or maybe we just need to get closer to God and feel God's love for us. It often helps to know that God made each of us special and complete.
– Celia Hodgson
What is jealousy? One definition is "intolerance of or hostility towards rivalry." The word "rival" usually conjures up images of two sports teams facing off, striving for some prize or title. But we often have rivals that might not be so obvious -- that guy with the 4.2 GPA who never has a wrong answer; the girls who are the best of friends and never fight; or the more experienced musician who always gets all the recognition. What's so bad about having rivals? Everyone knows that you can learn from competitors, and they push you to do better. The question is: where is the line between rivalry and jealousy? It is right there in the definition of jealousy. Only when we become hostile towards a rival does the angry, green monster of jealousy raise its head from the depths of friendly and beneficial competition.
For example, imagine that you have a friend who is much better at math than you are. You ask him for help when you need it, and he encourages you to do your best. But somewhere along the way, you start feeling inferior to him. You don't ask him for help anymore because you feel like a dunce. Gradually this feeling of inadequacy turns to anger, and you think that he is showing off, and you become jealous of him. So, you eventually separate yourself from him. Now, let's step back and analyze this situation. You started telling yourself that he was better than you -- not better at math, just better in general. You lowered your own self-esteem, and you lost a friend. He didn't even do anything wrong! He was helping you all along. Eleanor Roosevelt once said, "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." It's true. In this situation, you were the only one making yourself feel badly. Keeping friends and your self-esteem are two pretty good reasons not to be jealous.
Spending our time wanting what other people have doesn't benefit anyone. It will only bring us down. Rather than wishing we had what someone else has, we can focus instead on what we do have, what we can be grateful for, including our own uniqueness. Even better, we can start doing those things which will stop jealousy. We can cheer someone up, give a sincere compliment, and show our appreciation for our friends. You'll be surprised at how much of a difference it makes in your life.
– Jennifer Kidson
What and where is jealousy?
Jealousy is what we feel when we want what someone else has. Sometimes jealousy comes involuntarily when, for example, you're really looking forward to getting a bike for Christmas, and instead of getting it, your brother does. Rather than feeling happy for your brother, you get upset. This might lead to tears, frustration, or even a fight with your innocent brother.
I've had to deal with jealousy. I felt really down in the dumps when so many cool things were happening to my friends but not to me. I really wanted to be in honors English, even though I was in regular English when I applied. I didn't think I did my best on the application essay and wondered if it would affect me. It did. I didn't make it. I became angry and jealous. The rest of that week I was really doing poorly in school because I kept thinking about it. My entire behavior was negative, and I felt like I was being punished. I started thinking about what I was upset about. I realized that I was angrier at the other students who got into the class than at my own failings. As soon as I realized that they did deserve what they got, I felt better and began to see the strengths that I had in other classes.
How do you fix jealousy?
- The number one way to prevent jealousy is to obey the commandment, "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's" (Ex. 20:17).
- Another way to stop jealousy is to be happy for others. Don't punish people for the good they receive. This also means that we shouldn't punish ourselves by being jealous or upset at ourselves.
- If we feel jealousy creeping in, we can look for everything to be grateful for. Rather than focus on others, we can see what we do well and recognize our own best classes, talents, sports, grades, memories, etc.
- Before we say anything out of jealousy, it's helpful to think of the consequences and remember the Golden Rule.
If we kick jealousy out of our minds, everyone benefits. Only we can control our own thoughts, so let's keep them positive!
– Lily Bonwich