By Li Jing, China
I stumbled across a short video called Spellbound, which was about jealousy. This is a story of a lovely girl named Rene. She only ever got a prize for participation no matter which contest she took part in, while her elder sister Sunny, of good character and scholarly, won various trophies, with her bookshelf filled with these things. Rene was very jealous of her outstanding sister, so she often wrote in her notebook: “I hate my sister Sunny!” The jealousy in her heart became increasingly strong to the point that it became a devil. The devil dashed all of Sunny’s trophies to the floor, and not only that, but it even tried to swallow Sunny who was opening the door and about to enter her room. Faced with this horrible situation, Rene regretted it very much and managed to piece together the words in her torn notebook to say: “I love you,” “I’m sorry.” It was because she woke up in time and abandoned her jealous heart that a tragedy didn’t happen. Rene and her sister held each other close …
As I watched the video, I thought of some examples in the Bible of harming others out of jealousy. Those familiar with the Bible all know that Cain became jealous of Abel and finally even slew him because God approved of Abel’s offerings, not his. Another example is when Saul was the king of Israel, he hunted David because David won more support from the Israelites than he did. And also, Joseph’s brothers were jealous of him because their father was very fond of Joseph, so they threw Joseph into a pit , meaning to murder him, and sold him to merchants in the end. These are but a few of many examples. I also thought of the following verses in the Bible: “For wrath kills the foolish man, and envy slays the silly one” (Job 5:2). “Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous; but who is able to stand before envy?” (Proverbs 27:4).
In real life, we are also always bedeviled by jealousy. For example, some of us get jealous because our colleagues are more talented than us and are promoted, some because our siblings are better than us, some even because our church brothers and sisters are more diligent in pursuing the truth than us, and more. Because of jealousy, many people attack others with abusive language, many scheme against their friends, colleagues and relatives behind their backs, wishing for them to have bad luck, and many harm or kill others. There are countless such cases. I was one of those who were controlled by jealous hearts. I worked as hard as, and paid the same price as, my workmate but she did better in work than me and found favor with our leaders, while I was not valued by them at all. I therefore became jealous of her, and this drove me to fight openly and maneuver covertly with her. I felt that my life was very tiring, and very miserable, but I couldn’t control myself from envying her.
So then, how can we free ourselves of jealousy? After a period of seeking, I’ve found the following four paths.
The first path is to understand the root of jealousy. The Bible says: “Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another” (Galatians 5:26). “He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof comes envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings” (1 Timothy 6:4). These verses show that we can become jealous because our dispositions are too self-important and arrogant, and in any group situation, we always want to earn others’ approval and admiration and to be the most outstanding one rather than an unknown one. Therefore, when we discover that others are more talented than us, and we can’t show ourselves off or draw attention, we will feel jealousy and try everything to surpass them. When things don’t go exactly as we desire, we will live in suffering. Clearly, the root of jealousy is that our dispositions are too arrogant and that we always want to be approved and looked up to by others.
The second path is to recognize the evil consequences of jealousy. Jealousy leaves us living in pain without release in our hearts, and in serious cases, causes us to scheme against others and wish them to fail, thereby ruining our relationship with them. So we should see clearly that jealousy is hateful and corrodes man’s spirits, and that it makes us become vicious and lose our reason. Just as the Bible says: “A sound heart is the life of the flesh: but envy the rottenness of the bones” (Proverbs 14:30). Therefore, when our jealousy begins to cause trouble in our hearts, we should realize this in time and consider its consequences—it will harm others without any advantage to ourselves, and can only make us more and more evil. At this moment, we will develop some hatred for our jealousy and become willing to practice according to the Lord’s words.
The third path is to treat others properly and learn from their strengths. Actually, everyone’s caliber, talent, special skills have long since been predetermined by the Lord, and there are always people more talented than us who will appear in our life. So it’s normal to meet some people better than us. The wise should learn to treat this properly and learn from others’ strengths to bolster their own weaknesses. Just as the Bible says: “[I]n lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves” (Philippians 2:3). Therefore, we should correctly treat those more talented than us and humbly learn from their strengths to compensate for our shortcomings. In this way, we won’t become jealous in this situation, and will gain something from others.
The fourth path is to pray persistently when our jealousy starts. This will bring about changes to us. The Lord Jesus said: “ Watch and pray, that you enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak ” ( Matthew 26:41). Jealousy always stirs up trouble in our hearts and we are simply unable to control it; only the Lord can change us. So when we become jealous of someone better than us, we should pray to the Lord more often and ask Him to guide us to let go of the jealousy in our hearts.
Do you now grasp the four paths above? I trust that we won’t be controlled by our jealous heart as long as we practice according to these paths.