Some years ago, a close friend of mine asked me to pray for her because she was struggling with feelings of jealousy toward her married children's in-laws. My friend was a godly woman who was keenly aware of the destructive nature of jealousy, and how it can hinder our prayers and our intimacy with God. She also knew that if she wasn't careful, these negative attitudes would poison her relationships, even her relationship with her own children.
It wasn't until I began studying the Bible in earnest, that I discovered how seriously God takes jealousy. The verses above from Galatians 5 go so far as to warn us that those who persist in harboring jealous feelings toward others "will not inherit the kingdom of God." We need to remember that God is against anything that is destructive to mankind, His loving creation. And jealousy fits the bill perfectly.
Proverbs 27:4 (NLT) says: "Anger is cruel, and wrath is like a flood, but who can survive the destructiveness of jealousy?" One reason why jealousy is so destructive is that it causes us to see other people as rivals. The Message Bible puts it plainly when it describes it as "the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival." (Galatians 5:21 MSG) The dictionary defines jealousy as: "Fiercely protective (of rights, etc.); afraid, suspicious, or resentful of rivalry in love; envious, possessive, distrustful, defensive, insecure, bitter, covetous." Instead, God requires us to love each other with the kind of love described in His Word: "Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged." (1 Corinthians 13:4-5 NLT)
So how do we live our lives free from the negative effects of jealousy? Let me share some things with you that have greatly helped me in this area. As soon as I feel the slightest temptation to feel jealous toward someone, I immediately picture the word, "RESIST," in my mind. God has given us His Holy Spirit to resist temptation, but it's up to us to exercise our will, and to make a quality decision to actually do it. An old Chinese proverb often comes to mind in times like these. It says, "You can't stop birds from flying over your head, but you can prevent them from nesting in your hair!" Another helpful strategy is to confess to the Lord that we are struggling with feelings of jealousy, and to ask Him to help us obey Him in this area. Scripture says: "Don't spend your time in wild parties and getting drunk or in adultery and lust, or fighting, or jealousy. But ask the Lord Jesus Christ to help you live as you should..." (Romans 13:13-14 TLB) We can also ask trustworthy Christians to pray for us, just as my friend did. James 5:16 (MSG) says, "Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed."
We can avoid a lot of misery, anxiety, and opportunities to become resentful toward others if we will just heed God's command in First Thessalonians 4:11 (NIV). It says simply, "Mind your own business." There are things that we don't need to know - as well as things that we shouldn't know - for our own good. We can save ourselves a lot of heartache if we will simply resist being nosy or meddlesome, especially where our closest relationships are concerned. And it would be a lot easier for us to mind our own business if we would only obey God's instruction to "trust the Lord completely." (Proverbs 3:5 TLB) God wants to be our Defender, our Vindicator, and the One who looks out for our interests. But our lack of trust in Him will always rob us of His best.
The apostle Paul said that a jealous believer is worldly, carnal, and a "mere infant in Christ." (1 Corinthians 3:1-3 NIV) With God's help, you and I can successfully stand against feelings of jealousy every time, and we can mature and become all that Christ died for us to be!
Prayer: Lord, forgive me for the times I have been jealous of other people. I confess it as sin, and I ask that You forgive me and cleanse me, according to Your promise. (1 John 1:9) Remind me often that Your Word says: "A relaxed attitude lengthens life; jealousy rots it away." (Proverbs 14:30 NLT) Thank You, Lord, that as I seek to obey You in this area, I will enjoy more peace, joy, and well-being than I have ever known!
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