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.
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.
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