Anger is cruel and fury overwhelming,
but who can stand before jealousy? Proverbs 27:4
When I delved into research about envy vs. jealousy I came across this interesting view from Psychology Today:
“Although jealousy is a painful emotional experience, evolutionary psychologists regard it not as an emotion to be suppressed but as one to heed—as a signal or a wake-up call that a valued relationship is in danger and that steps need to be taken to regain the affection of a mate or friend. As a result, jealousy is seen as a necessary emotion, because it preserves social bonds and motivates people to engage in behaviors that maintain important relationships.”
Jealousy, unlike envy, is about emotional needs within relationships. Be it between spouses, children and parents, or even between co-workers and a boss. “My mother loves my sister more than me.” “My wife pays too much attention to our neighbor.” “He’s always playing up to the boss for compliments.” These are all situations where a person is seeking to fulfill emotional needs through the wrong outlet. When we feel jealousy arise in our hearts it should be a warning to evaluate where our prideful hearts are seeking to fulfill all its needs.
In the books of Mark and Luke a scene unfolds wherein the disciples argue amongst themselves who is the greatest of them. They all want to be seen as the “top dog” alongside Jesus. Who does Jesus love more? Who does He rely on the most? All signs of a strain of jealousy woven among them. And true to Jesus’ ability to cut through the sin of man He reminds them all that they are to be the “least” among men. To accept His love as little children, with innocence and grace. James later reminds us of jealousy’s dangerous results: “You desire and do not have so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel.”
Friend, as Samuel Rutherford once wrote, “There is so much in our Lord’s pantry that will satisfy His children, and much wine in His cellar that will quench all their thirst.” He admonishes us to live on Christ’s love alone. When we place all our emotional needs in one human relationship we are sure to be disappointed. And disappointment can lead to jealousy. As Rutherford goes on to say, “Let those who love this present world have it; Christ is the more worthy and noble portion; blessed are those who choose Him.”
Loving Lord, thank you for being a fountain of love that never runs dry. A place I can return to over and over to refresh me. Help me to seek your love above all so I can place my earthly relationships in the right place in my heart. Amen