The Sin No One Talks About

We think we’re above it—that schoolgirl flash of envy--but it just wears different clothing now that we’re grown. 

It’s no longer covered in sand and coveting Freddie’s shiny Matchbox car as we build roads in the dirt. It’s not dressed in the same brand jeans everyone else is wearing in an attempt at high school individuality either, longingly wishing for her flawless complexion or her exciting social life. 

It’s not trudging around campus with the right backpack on, smiling congratulations and choking down envy as she accepts another scholarship award. And it doesn’t walk down the aisle in yet another bridesmaid dress shedding misunderstood tears as the fourth friend this year says I do

But it’s there just the same, rearing its ugly head against dear friends, godly mentors, and complete strangers. 

Are we ever free from jealousy? 

We hide it better now that we’re mature. We know it’s a sin, and when it sneaks up behind us and jabs us with its burning fork it catches us by surprise. It reaches into our pockets and steals our joy like some two-bit hustler at a county fair. And it leaves its calling card behind to burn a ragged hole in our pocket big enough for contentment to spill out. 

“Jealousy is cruel as the grave . . .” (Song 8:6) 

“. . . envy (is) the rottenness of the bones.” (Prov. 14:30) 

“The spirit that dwells in us lusts to envy.” (James 4:5) 

God’s Word doesn’t leave us vulnerable, though. Like a bulletproof vest, it guards our hearts from Satan’s sniper fire, but only if we strap it on. 

Here are four ways to combat jealousy: 

1. “Make no provision for the flesh” (Rom. 13:14). If you find yourself struggling with jealousy as you leaf through Southern Living magazine, browse through expensive home furnishing stores, or tour the Parade of Homes, don’t do it. I’m not suggesting you live in a cabin in the woods and never come out, but sometimes we expose ourselves unnecessarily to things that cause us to wish for what we do not have. I seldom long for a 4-carat amethyst until I’ve seen one in a jewelry store window. And my cozy little 1961 bungalow suits me just fine until I visit model homes with living rooms larger than my house. 

2. “Godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Tim. 6:6). American author Harold Coffin said, “Envy is the art of counting the other fellow’s blessings instead of your own.” One way to counteract feelings of envy and jealousy is to list what we are thankful for. As the list of God’s good gifts grows longer, reasons for discontentment grow shorter until grumbling is swallowed up by gratitude.

3. “Rejoice with those who rejoice. . .” (Rom. 12:15). Take active, physical steps to celebrate others’ victories and successes. Send a card, make a phone call, post a Facebook note of congratulations. As in other matters of obedience, I’ve found that it’s often not until I do the right thing that I feel the right way. Feelings usually follow obedience instead of leading the way. 

4. “But above all, guard your heart” (Prov. 4:23). We must be vigilant against the cancers of envy and jealousy. As soon as the Holy Spirit makes us aware of them, we must confess and forsake them. Like a stray cat at the back door, the more we entertain and feed these unwelcome guests, the harder it is to get rid of them. 

Dr. Jerry Falwell, founder of Liberty University, said this about his salvation: “If God saved me and never did another thing for me, I’d still be eternally grateful.” Dr. Falwell is right. God has already given us the most precious gift of all. The only appropriate response is a life filled with gratitude. 

What steps do you take to combat jealousy? Will you share your thoughts by leaving a comment below? 

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  1. I love your #3 tip about rejoicing with those who rejoice. It's healing and cleansing and it sows generosity and kindness into relationships. A definite win/win.

    1. "it sows generosity and kindness into relationships." I love this, Lori! Yes, exactly! Thanks for stopping by.

  2. This is so good..... something we all have to fight regularly.... and we fight it by submitting to the Lord and His will.... Thank you for posting this.