Stopping Jealousy

By Jessica Wingert, age 14 and Marjorie Foerster Eddington


I don't like it when I feel jealous of others or others feel jealous of me. How do you stop jealousy?


Sometimes it's easy to feel jealous -- wanting something another person has, like clothes, money, a job, a parent's love. But jealousy isn't the best way to deal with your feelings. When you are jealous, you can't love, which opens up the door to hate. If you do not stop jealousy at the beginning, it builds in strength until it seems as if you cannot stop it.

This is what happened to Joseph's brothers in the book of Genesis in the Bible. It's a story most of us know. Joseph's brothers are jealous of him and the love their father gives him from the start. They don't control their jealousy when they should. Their father, Israel, gives Joseph "a coat of many colours. And when his brethren saw that their father loved him more than all his brethren, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably unto him" (Gen. 37:4).

But it is not right to be jealous and hate others. If you continue being jealous, all the love you could express is pushed away, and jealousy will overwhelm your love for others. This will make you miserable. It could also make the person you hate feel miserable. If you are jealous, you might want to let your jealousy out; you might want to show it somehow, probably hurting someone in the process.

Joseph's brothers' jealousy and hatred of Joseph grow until they feel that they must get rid of Joseph: "And they took him, and cast him into a pit…" (Gen 37:23, 24). Then they sell Joseph into slavery, tricking their father into believing Joseph has been killed by an animal. His brothers seem glad to finally get rid of their little brother. Their hate consumed their lives. If Joseph's brothers had loved and appreciated Joseph, instead of focusing on their hate and jealousy, they would have been much happier.

The state of jealousy does not make you content. Being jealous of someone will hurt you just as much, if not more, than the person you envy. If you can't love, you will end up hating. When you hate, you forget good qualities about yourself and the other person, and you stop being grateful for what you already have.

To be happy, you need not be overcome with jealousy. You need to love. Love will solve anything. Love will melt jealousy away. Jesus told his disciples, "A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another" (John 13:34). Forgiving is about love. Jesus commands us to love one another. He tells us it is the most important commandment we have. Loving one another means we must love everyone -- not just our family or friends or people we really like, but also people we may not like, may never talk to, or may be jealous of. Everybody needs love. We should always be loving and forgiving. Forgiving is often hard, but forgiving goes along with loving.

The inverse of jealousy is forgiveness. If you hurt someone with your jealousy, or if someone hurts you, there needs to be forgiveness: one of you should forgive the other and apologize. If you start forgiving, you will start to notice the other's good qualities. Depending upon the situation, you may not even tell people directly that you forgive them; you may just forgive them in your heart for whatever they did to you.

Forgiving helps you release your own feelings of hate and animosity towards those who hate you, so you can move on. Even after going through all the hardships his brothers' jealousy caused him, Joseph forgives them for what they did. His brothers' plan was for him to die. They hated him that much, but their plan didn't work out! Joseph sees that it's his duty to see the good in them and not just focus on their jealousy of him. As a result, Joseph rose to second-in-command to Pharaoh in all of Egypt.

When his brothers see him, they can't believe it; they thought he was dead, but Joseph gives them a new opportunity for life. With Pharaoh's blessing, Joseph gives his brothers the best land and food in all of Egypt: "And Joseph nourished his father, and his brethren, and all his father's household, with bread, according to their families" (Gen 47:12). He does all this because he forgave his brothers, and they felt forgiven. They were reunited as family.

This can be applied to you. If you are caught in a web of jealousy, you can forgive. It will make you happier; you will feel free when you forgive because you will no longer be carrying the burden of hating someone else.

Give me one good reason for jealousy. There is none. It can only bring about hate. Give me one good reason for forgiveness. Love. There is always a great need for love; and forgiveness goes hand in hand with love.

Jessica Wingert, age 14

Editor's Note:
After they sold Joseph into slavery, the brothers did not have an easy life. Check out Genesis 37-45. Another neat point about the story is that Joseph had so completely forgiven his brothers, that he didn't want them to feel bad about their actions. He tells them, "Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life" (Gen 45:5). No matter what happened to Joseph, he was able to see that God was in charge, that good was going on. When we know that God is in charge, we can more easily forgive others. Though it's important to be able to forgive others for their sake, forgiveness is important for our own mental health. If we don't forgive, we're allowing someone else to control our happiness. Not until we forgive are we truly able to move forward freely.