It can look like a married mom of four scrolling through her single friend’s beautiful vacation photos, or a young professional struggling with infertility after a good friend announces her pregnancy. It may rear its head after a friend gets promoted at her job— again—while we’re feeling stuck in our own. Hey, jealousy. Usually, these moments of jealousy are often short-lived. We are able to navigate through them because our love and desire for our friends’ good override those occasional jealous moments.
But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.
watch session three: toxic friendship
god's jealousy versus ours
The Bible portrays God as a jealous God (Deuteronomy 4:23–24), an “all-consuming fire,” specifically when his people turn away from Him to worship idols made by human hands. God is the only One who is capable of having an all-consuming jealousy that is holy and just. The fire of God’s jealousy destroys the impurities of what is unholy and refines it into holiness. This is a hard concept to grasp, admittedly. Know this; it was God’s deep love that caused Him to send his Son, Jesus, to fulfill his law (Matthew 5:17) and to offer us salvation instead of condemnation. In all emotions, God is perfect—his jealousy, his love, and his grace—are all perfectly balanced to bring him glory and to work for our good. God is love, and His love pursues and exalts the lowly, generously.
Galatians 5:15 warns us to watch out that we are “not consumed by one another.” What does this mean? We use things for our benefit and convenience, and our sense of status and identity revolves how much stuff we accumulate. Toxic jealousy treats love and blessing like scarce commodities to be owned. We want what someone else has without understanding her story, work ethic, or the pain and struggle that accompanies her joy. Jealousy is about control and dissatisfaction. We despise what God has given us, and attempt to fill the void ourselves. We become deaf and blind to contentment. We demand someone else’s love and attention through force and manipulation in order to gratify our own needs of identity and value, while ignoring the other person’s needs. Whether we are the culprit or the victim, the jealousy cycle is dangerous and destructive.
keeping in step with the spirit
Paul states in Galatians 5:25, “If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.” Imagine us as little ones holding the Spirit’s hand. Sometimes we need to skip a bit to keep in step, and frequently we need to look up and see whose hand we’re holding. Galatians 5:19–25 gives us a clear measure of when we’re walking in our flesh and when we’re walking by the Spirit. When we find our minds and our relationships are marked by jealousy, selfish ambition or fits of rage, our hands have slipped from the Spirit’s. However, when our lives are marked by the fruit of the Spirit— peace, patience, joy, love, faithfulness, goodness, kindness, gentleness and self-control—we’re holding his hand again. The Spirit gives this fruit generously and abundantly. It won’t run out.
If jealousy has become a dominant experience in your friendship, either experienced within yourself or through a friend, it would do your soul some good to evaluate and gently confront it.
Get out some coloring tools and write out the word: JEALOUSY. Ponder how you feel as you write. Have you started holding your own hand and lost step with the Spirit in a particular friendship? If so, confess and ask the Holy Spirit to help you understand what part of you needs his healing.
I think sometimes I can lose step when I am overwhelmed and feel like everyone else has their life together but me. Like I have to catch up because I am so behind. I remember driving in the car and as we passed by others I would imagine what their life was life. How amazing it must be and how happy they are. I was so alone and sad and just really thought everyone else had it together but me. I was not appreciating what was right in front of me and working on what needed to be worked on within me, but just filling up with jealously….and really that was what was taking away all my happiness and what was denying me true happiness.
Nowadays I am much better at recognizing the world around me and identifying when I need to recenter. I realize much quicker when I get off track and I can put my emotions in check. Only once in a great while do I get really derailed and have to work very hard to get back on track. I know that I have a great life and that God has given me all the love and tools to live a happy life with my loved ones.
Sometimes jealousy can mask itself or disguise itself in other ways because I do not want to even admit to myself that I am jealous. However, I think it is important to realize that this emotion may come up and we can let it float away. We do not have to give it more power, by trying to deny it or fight it or overanzlyze , but just recognize and let go. Its in the letting go that real growth happens and pretty soon this emotion gets so weak that your rarely see it rear its ugly head.
I echo everything you have said here! When we can say we are in a good place with God, letting go of these feelings becomes easier and easier and we recognize what it is quickly for the most part. It’s Satan trying to get a foothold in our weaknesses. I like how you said, just let it float away. Jealousy can be a weight that is super hard to bear, but if we give it no weight it floats away.
Lately I have felt jealous of my husband being able to still go out to work. And I am stuck at home. That he has more freedoms than I do, and more time to just be as he drives to and from work. I long for that sometimes, as I am home with 3 you g kids and 3 more under my care each weekday. I work from home. I am constantly fighting that jealously to a point of seeing this as my mission right now. My ministry. And instead of feeling jealous of my hubby or the friend across the street who gets out every day to work or visit or camping, or my friends who finally have the house of their dreams after years of financial turmoil, I can be joyful in the life God has blessed them with and be joyful in where Hod has placed me “for such a time as this.”
I dislike jealousy so much but catch myself feeling jealous when comparing myself to others. It is hard not to do that in today’s world of social media. I am thankful to have learned through this study to use the fruits of the spirit to keep myself and my feelings in check, especially when working on relationships with friends, but also in just working on myself. To be able to stop and ask myself do these feelings I’m having support the fruits of the spirit and my relationship with God? And how does God view my feelings? Such a simple check to bring God’s will into our every day lives and strengthen our walk with him.
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