Handling the green monster of jealousy

We know that the Ten Commandments in the Bible tell us not to covet, which means to be jealous and want what other people have. But it’s a safe guess that at some point in life, you have experienced the feeling of jealousy. It’s one of the most universal feelings we have. So how do we handle the feeling of jealousy if and when it does pop up, to live more fully into the life God has called us?

Identify why you feel jealous.

Different situations will trigger jealousy in different people. Some people may get very jealous when they visit friend’s houses, wanting the beautiful yard or the clean home. Others may get jealous at work, or when their friends get married or have children before them, or at church when you chat with someone and start to imagine that their life is just perfect while yours is not. Jealousy indicates dissatisfaction with what God has given us. It is the opposite of thankfulness and contentment, two qualities that God wants in his people. Jealousy stems from greed, pride, and a lack of trust in our Heavenly Father who provides for us.

How can we handle jealousy?

The solution is never to just grit your teeth and try harder, nor to go out and purchase whatever item you were coveting. We need to deal with the root cause of our jealousy: greed, pride, lack of trust, dissatisfaction. If you focus your thoughts on what you don’t have and what you wish you had, you will regularly feel jealous, dissatisfied, and frustrated. Instead, here are some strategies and actions that may help you to handle feelings of jealousy when they arise:

  • Make a daily list of what you are thankful for, and spend time in prayer giving thanks to the One who gave you those things.
  • Tell the people you love not only that you love them, but why, and how they have enriched your life. Instead of taking things for granted, tell them out loud why they’re great.
  • Praise God for his character and the qualities of his personality: He is faithful, love, generous, all-seeing and all-knowing, holy, compassionate, powerful, and kind.  There are many psalms, especially toward the end of the Psalms, that may guide your praise.
  • Make a quick prayer when you notice the jealousy come up: confess it immediately to God and ask Him to help you re-focus your attention and heart. This can happen silently in your own heart, and won’t even interrupt the conversation.
  • Pray through the Lord’s Prayer and personalize the lines for yourself: praise God and think about what his Kingdom is like and would look like on earth; identify your “daily bread” and ask God for these specific things; recognize the “trespasses” or sins that need to be forgiven, which will include your own confession as well as areas where you need God’s strength to forgive others; ask for protection from temptation and evil – including the power of jealousy in your life; close with praise to God for his power, glory, and eternal Kingdom.