Jealousy is one of those ample ingredients that comes in our sin nature - covetousness and jealousy are twin sins that have no place in love. They break down the purity of love and turn love into something God never intended it to be.
Let's start with God. This is going to be tricky because guess what? God is a jealous God. (Deut 4:24). Are you confused yet? I guess we need to understand how God can be jealous but we aren't allowed to be.
First, God's jealousy is holy and righteous. It does not flow from sin but from holiness. It is not a competitive resentment because of another person's success or life. It is a pure desire for our undistracted attention. God does not want us to worship anything but Him. When our hearts are turned away towards other idols, God jealously pursues us because He knows that in our pursuit of other idols, we will be hurt. Anything that takes our attention away from God will hurt us in the end and God loves us enough to be jealous of our attention for our own good.
So the only jealousy that is acceptable is a righteous jealousy that is concerned over the holiness of another. It doesn't produce negative, competitive, angry emotions but produces concern, love and a pursuit for righteousness in another's life.
Sinful jealousy puts the need of self before others. David was jealous of another man's choice of wife, so he stole, lied and murdered to get what he wanted. (II Samuel 11) Rachel was jealous of her sisters fertility so she whined, complained, threatened, connived and bought her husband's affections in her search for happiness. (Genesis 30). Joseph's brothers were jealous of their father's love and they beat up and sold their brother into slavery (Genesis 37). Achan was jealous of the wealth of the Canaanites and he disobeyed God, stole, hid, lied which resulted in the death of his fellow soldiers, and eventually he himself was killed for it (Joshua7). Jealousy did not produce righteousness in any of these people's lives but instead caused sin to reign, thus bringing sobering. painful consequences into the lives of all these characters.
So we need to go and get our long-handled strainer - you know, the one with the holes in the ladle - and reach down into that pot and strain out all the jealousy. We have to put it off and put on contentment and gratitude in its place. Here are a few examples of what that looks like:
- I can love my neighbor, even though they have nicer stuff than I do - BECAUSE God is my Father and I will steward what He has placed in my care and be grateful for what I have
- I can love my step daughter without competing for her father's attention - BECAUSE I am secure in the love of my heavenly Father and I know how important it is for a father to spend time with his children and I am thankful that I married a man who loves his children
- I can love my enemy, even when they seem to prosper and succeed while I struggle - BECAUSE I know that God causes all things in my life to work together to conform me into the image of His Son and so this struggle is for my good and I am thankful for it
- I can love my husband as he participates in his hobbies BECAUSE I trust my heavenly Father is working in his life and I understand that he needs an outlet for the pressures of life and his hobby is something that brings him joy and I am thankful that he is happy
- I can love my parents, even when they seem to pay more attention to my siblings BECAUSE I understand that the love I need flows freely from God the Father and I am an instrument of His unconditional love to be used for His glory and I am thankful that I have parents to love
- Love is patient, bearing the hardships and delays of life with a calm, you-before-me attitude
- Love is kind, a considerate, helpful and generous way of putting others before yourself
- And it is not jealous, so it doesn't react negatively to other's choices, successes or life experiences but rather is grateful and content with where they are, still putting others before self