“For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come- sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance, and folly. All of these evils come from inside and defile a person.”
I hope your summer is going beautifully! I have spent this summer studying for the bar exam, which I took last week! I don’t find out the results until late September. In the midst of studying this summer I got a serious tug on spirit about something that is harming the body of Christ: green eyes of envy. My spirit has seriously been burdened by the green eyes of envy that plague the body of Christ. I saw it rear its ugly head this summer, the season of graduations, engagements, weddings, and traveling. This is a heart condition, and a sin that God takes very seriously, as seen in Scripture.
I mentioned this briefly before, but jealousy kills community. It kills sisterhood in the body of Christ, and I am calling it out in the hopes that we all take a stand against it!
What Does it Mean to Be Jealous and Envious?
I really want to drive home the point that jealousy and envy are big problems, and not just because they break up friendships. It is a real attack on the body of Christ and it is divisive.
When we think of the term “jealousy” we often think of coveting. After all, the Tenth Commandment tells us not to covet anything that belongs to our neighbors. The term “covet”mentioned in the Tenth Commandment in Exodus 20:17 is closely related to, but not the exact Greek word as, “covet” in Colossians 3:5. Colossians 3:5 (NIV) tells us to “Put to death, therefore, belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires, and greed, which is idolatry.” The King James version of this verse instructs us to “Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry.” Notice that covetnousness stands in for greed. The Greek word for covetnousness is “pleonexia,” which literally means “a desire to have more,” i.e., a lusting for a greater number of temporal things that go beyond what God determines is eternally best. Ephesians 4:19 noted that the Gentiles, “having lost all sensitivity,” gave into “sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed.” Greed, that old pleonexia popping up again. In the context of these Scriptures, that greed, that desire to have more, is idolatry. That means sin.
That’s right, jealousy is a sin and condition of your heart.
Strong’s Concordance states that this idolatry implies bold and aggressive methods of getting more; it frequently refers to behavior that is as divisive and reckless as it is eager to get out and get more. Basically, a jealous person can be just as cruel as they are “ambitious.” Mark 7:21-22, the verse above, says that jealousy comes from within, from the heart. It resides in the heart, as evidenced in James 3:14-15 (” But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic.”).
Envy: Jealousy’s Close Relative
Envy is just as big of a problem as jealousy. The Greek word for envy is phthonos, the feeling of displeasure produced by witnessing or hearing of the advantage or prosperity of others, and an evil sense always attaches to this word. It is evil and disorderly, as stated in James 3:16 (“For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.”). Taken together, you are either desiring more than what you have or you are upset that someone else is being blessed. Either way, the Bible calls it evil.
What’s The Proper Response to Jealousy and Envy?
How should we respond to a person who is jealous and envious of us? What do we do when we are jealous and envious of someone else? There’s several approaches below.
I’m Jealous of Her
Realize that your peace is at stake.
Sis, “a heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.” (Proverbs 14:30). You see that? A heart at peace gives life to the body, not a heart full of jealousy. Realize what’s going on here: you are rotting yourself out with your jealousy. Your peace is on the line here- let Christ come in and push that out.
Love your sister genuinely.
1 Corinthians 13:4 tells us that love does not envy. Love, sis. Agape love. That kind of love that is the attitude of God toward His Son, love that is a deliberate choice made without any kind of deserving. I love this statement: “Christian love is the fruit of His Spirit in the Christian.” There’s no evil feelings towards your sister when there is love abiding in you.
Realize your value as a member of the body of Christ.
The image of the body with different labels above is my representation of 1 Corinthians 12:12-26. Go read those verses sis! There’s nothing but truth: every person has a part to play in the body of Christ, just as each of your body parts makes up your entire body. If your foot was gone, you would sure miss it. If your hand or eye was gone, you would miss it. Be focused on your part in the body of Christ and realize that you are just as needed as anyone else. I encourage you to meditate on the following Scriptures and let them get down in you:
- “The fullness of Christ is in me.” Colossians 2: 9-10
- “I am the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:21
- “I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” Psalm 139:14
- “Your will for my life is perfect.” Romans 12:2
- “You have plans to prosper me and not harm me, plans to give me a hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
Pray over that sister and speak God’s blessings for her.
That’s right. Pray blessings over her. Mary and Elizabeth come to mind. Elizabeth could have very well been jealous of Mary. They were both pregnant at the same time, but Mary’s baby would be far greater than Elizabeth’s baby. Elizabeth did not get jealous and envious of Mary, but instead Elizabeth proclaimed loudly “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear…Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!” (Luke 1:41-45). You see that? Nothing but love and blessings spoken when Elizabeth could have let envy take root in her heart.
She’s Jealous of Me
You pray for her.
That friend you thought would celebrate with you is just sick and upset that “it happened” to you and not her. Maybe she just decides to not be your friend out of the blue and you cannot figure out why she is so upset out of nowhere. Perhaps she is more honest and says right out that she is jealous. You may want to cut her off and refrain from talking to your friend after seeing such an unflattering side of her. A real friend would not be jealous, right?
Maybe so, but a bout of jealousy may be best handled by loving her in spite of her heart condition. Our best response is to love on her and pray for her. Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:44 to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute you. Jesus experienced jealousy and enviousness firsthand. Jesus was handed over to Pilate to be crucified because of the envy felt by the chief priests and elders of the people (see Matthew 27:18 KJV). Jesus responded to these envious people not by cutting them off, but by praying that God would forgive them in Luke 23:34.
Keep the bigger picture in mind.
Now, this specifically concerns those who act out their envy or covetousness in their ministry. I want to encourage you to think of Philippians 1:15-18. Paul acknowledges that yes, “it is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.” So, whether people set out to copy your ministry because they want what you have, or because they are upset that your ministry is flourishing…all that matters is that Christ is being preached. Someone will have to give an account for their motives, but realize the bigger picture- Christ.
Is Jealousy THAT Serious?
Yes, it’s THAT serious. It goes beyond broken friendships- it affects the body of Christ. As mentioned above, the Tenth Commandment tells us not to covet anything that belongs to our neighbors. The Greek work for covet in this specific context is chamad, meaning “to delight in or desire.” You are desiring what others have. It is a sin to covet and it destroys community.
Think about it. Remember James 3:16? The King James version says “For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.” Look at that- strife and envy hanging out together. No unity whatsoever. Unity is super important to Jesus. He prayed over future believers like you and me in John 17:23 when He stated that He wanted us all brought to “complete unity.” The purpose here is not for us to sing Kumbaya but so that the world will know that Jesus was sent by God and that He loved the world (see John 17:23). Paul shared the same sentiments by appealing to the church in Corinth to “agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you” (1 Corinthians 1:10).
If we keep up with this jealousy and envying, the world will look at us and see no difference in our actions. They will look at us and say “I don’t see why I would be a Christian when they still carry on with being envious, jealous, and petty.” We represent Christ, y’all. Christ’s reputation is on the line- do we want to shock the world with the way we love or the way we fight and compete with each other over jealousies?
I pray we are healed from that heart condition by His grace.