How to Overcome Jealousy from a Biblical Perspective
But there are examples in the Bible of people who felt jealous and we can learn lessons from those stories.
Example #1: Cain and Abel
Cain and Abel were the sons of Adam and Eve. Cain worked in the fields and Abel kept the flocks safe. In Genesis 4:3-8 we read:
“In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. And Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock.
The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.
Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”
Now Cain (feeling jealous that God favored Abel’s offering) said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.”
Example #2: Jacob and Esau
Isaac (Jacob and Esau’s father) was 40 years old when he married Rebekah (their mother). But Rebekah wasn’t able to have children so Isaac prayed to God on her behalf. Then God answered his prayer and Rebekah soon became pregnant.
“The babies jostled each other within her, and she said, “Why is this happening to me?” So she went to inquire of the Lord. The Lord said to her, “Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you will be separated; one people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger.” (Genesis 25:22-23)
The twins were born and grew up. Once Isaac was an old man, it was time for him to bless his son Esau who was born before Jacob.
Isaac told Esau (who was a skillful hunter) to bring him his favorite meal then he would bless him. However, Rebekah wanted Jacob to get the blessing from his father. So while Esau was out hunting, she made Isaac’s dinner and made Jacob look like Esau so Isaac would think it was Esau who was getting the blessing.
Isaac delivered the blessing to Jacob saying, “Ah, the smell of my son is like the smell of a field that the Lord has blessed. May God give you heaven’s dew and earth’s richness—an abundance of grain and new wine. May nations serve you and peoples bow down to you. Be lord over your brothers, and may the sons of your mother bow down to you. May those who curse you be cursed and those who bless you be blessed.” (Genesis 27:27)
Then Esau (who was supposed to receive his father’s blessing instead of Jacob) returned from hunting and became very angry and jealous of his brother. “Esau held a grudge against Jacob because of the blessing his father had given him. He said to himself, “The days of mourning for my father are near; then I will kill my brother Jacob.” (Genesis 27:41)
Many years later, Esau forgave Jacob and the two reconciled.
Example #3: Joseph and his brothers
Jacob from the previous example had 12 sons, one being Joseph. Jacob loved Joseph more than his other sons and made him a colorful robe. Joseph’s other brothers became jealous and wanted nice robes like Joseph’s. They were also jealous that Jacob didn’t love them as much as he loved Joseph.
Joseph had several dreams that he told his family about. The dreams were about his family bowing down to him one day.
Being filled with anger and jealousy, the brothers threw Joseph into a dry well.
Then the brothers saw a caravan of Ishmaelite’s transporting spices, balm and myrrh to Egypt.
“Judah said to his brothers, “What will we gain if we kill our brother and cover up his blood? Come, let’s sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay our hands on him; after all, he is our brother, our own flesh and blood.” His brothers agreed.” (Genesis 37:26-27)
So they sold him for twenty shekels (about 8 ounces) of silver to the Ishmaelites, who took him to Egypt with them. Then they grabbed Joseph’s robe, slaughtered a goat and then dipped Joseph’s robe in the blood.
Then they took the robe back to their Jacob, their father, and said, “We found this. Examine it to see whether it is your son’s robe.” Genesis 37:33 tells us Jacob recognized it and said, “It is my son’s robe! Some ferocious animal has devoured him. Joseph has surely been torn to pieces.”
Because of his brother’s jealousy, Joseph was taken from his family. However, Joseph continued to trust in God.
After some time, the Pharaoh placed him in charge of gathering extra food for the people of Egypt.
Eventually Joseph’s brothers came to Egypt to buy food and without recognizing Joseph, bowed down to him just as he had dreamed when he was younger. Joseph told them he was their brother and they became frightened since Joseph had power in Egypt now.
But Joseph told them, “I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! Do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. (Genesis 45:4-5) So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He made me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt.” (Genesis 45:8)
What can we learn about Overcoming Jealousy from these Biblical Examples?
1) Sometimes, it just takes time
There are situations in life where time and faith is the only thing that will bring healing.
2) Try to see the other person’s point of view
Everyone sees things from different perspectives. We all come from different backgrounds, have had different experiences, and have different views. All of which have shaped us into the person we become.
So when one person sees something they believe is offensive, another person may think it’s a good thing.
We can see this type of thing a lot with the political issues going on currently in the U.S.
3) Pray – Ask God for guidance
Unfortunately we can’t change anyone but ourselves, even though sometimes we wish we could.
But we can pray for other people and pray that their heart is softened. We can also pray that they will see things in a clear light.
For yourself, pray for guidance. Ask God to help you forgive the other person. Seek His heart and try to find ways to change the situation you’re experiencing.
4) Remember it takes two to quarrel
Remember, it takes two people to begin an argument and two to keep an argument going.
You can be the person that lets go and finds a better way to react. Or you can be the one who holds on to feelings of jealousy and anger.
The choice is yours.
5) Think about what steps you need to take in order to change the situation
What can you do to change the situation? Or is there even a way to change it?
Maybe counseling will help, joining a prayer group, getting outdoors and relaxing, doing something fun to release those negative feelings, etc.
What is it that YOU can do to make a difference?
6) Discover the underlying reason that triggered you to feel jealous
Usually there is something that made us feel that way, something that isn’t on the surface. It’s something that you discover when you dig deep and truly think of what made those feelings of jealousy start.
For example, if you found out your wife was texting an ex-boyfriend and you became angry, jealous, and protective. You’re not necessarily mad about the fact that their talking, once you really think about why you’re upset you’ll realize you’re mad because you don’t know what they are talking about. You’re also upset because you feel hurt.
Another example is if your best friend got an A on a college paper and you feel jealous because you got a B when you really needed an A to pass the class. You’re not upset that your best friend did well, if you’re a good friend you’re actually happy for them. Your jealous because you are disappointed in yourself and the grade you got.
In most cases, we become jealous and angry because we feel hurt or disappointed, not so much because of what happened to cause those feelings.
Although forgiving someone who hurt you isn’t easy, it is important. It releases negative thoughts and feelings that can lead to stress. And stress has MANY negative impacts on the body. You can read about 10 of them here: 10 Ways Stress Affects Your Body.
Anne Lamott once said, “Not forgiving is like drinking rat poison and then waiting for the rat to die.”
One way to help you forgive is to stop negative thoughts. I wrote an article about this, “How to ELIMINATE Negative Thinking” to help you do that.
When you feel jealous, remind yourself of the Bible examples I gave you.
You aren’t alone with feelings of hurt, anger, and jealousy.
Those feelings have been around since sin entered the world.
Bible verses about jealousy:
A peaceful heart leads to a healthy body; but jealousy is like cancer in the bones. – Proverbs 14:30
But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don’t cover up the truth with boasting and lying. For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic. For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind. – James 3:14-16
Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. – 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves. – Philippians 2:3
Even though jealousy is a common feeling, that doesn’t mean it’s a good one. Jealousy causes you to not think rationally and to feel stressed. If you are feeling that way, please read my post, “5 Practical Ways to Kill Stress”.
Remember, there may be times when jealousy and anger are completely justified. But that doesn’t mean reacting to a situation or event with jealousy is the best way to deal with it. And by following the above 8 tips, you can overcome jealousy.
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