Envy and Jealousy: The distinction between the two is almost impossible to define. Psychology Today gives the contrast that most psychologists agree upon: "...Envy is a reaction to lacking something. Jealousy is a reaction to the threat of losing something." Although, even psychologists openly admit the two are so similar, so intertwined, and used so interchangeably, that they are almost synonymous in our culture. The root cause and effects, being pretty much the same as well, therefore, we may use these terms interchangeably throughout the lesson.
Story after story of sin and rebellion in Scriptures originate with the common denominator of envy. If we break this horrible emotion down to it's core, we find pride lurking at the center. Envy says, "If you have it, I want it… I am just as good as you", "I deserve that just as much as you, maybe more", "I want more recognition, reward, etc." Notice each of these mindsets devalue others completely, while seeing only our own worth and glory. The problem is that it may be the driving force behind much of our life in this culture because our culture is driven by the desire to be the best, look the best, be heard, be seen, be the center. We are the most narcissistic society this Nation has ever produced, and though much of social media does have good uses (Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, etc.), it's grotesque misuse as a tool to scream for recognition, importance, and popularity above others reveals much, and what makes matters worse, is the simple fact that most who suffer from envy and jealousy hide their feelings, even from themselves. With Christians being some of the biggest offenders and deniers. Answer your own question, as to whether you are affected by the green-eyed monster of destruction: Do you ever have envious or jealous thoughts and actions based on a reaction towards others in these areas? In other words, is part of your motivation ever based on these things? Others' looks and physique? (Weight, clothes, makeup) Popularity some receive from others? (Angry at attention another gets) Talent and education? How they are being used of God? (I could do that/ I steady more than them/ Better speaker) The spouse or "steady" they have? (Nicer, better looking, more successful) The job they have, or how good they are at their job? The success of their children in school, sports, or popularity? (My kids must be the best at all costs) The list could go on. Most of us don't seem to realize just how horribly serious the problem of envy and jealousy are in a person's life. Envy always brings emotions and actions that stem solely from negative feelings and God hates it—reveals it as the origin for much sin: James 3:14-16. He repeatedly speaks of it as one of the most destructive and hurtful of sins: Proverbs 27:4. He says it is the evidence of spiritual immaturity, and even lack of Salvation: 1 Corinthians 3:1-3. He condemns it as demonic, and worthy of damnation: Galatians 5:18-21.
Take a moment with me, just to get a conscious grip on all that envy is doing in our lives right now: envy causes us to buy so many things we don't need or even want; envy causes you to do things that you are not called to do (because you don't want to be outdone); envy causes you not to do some things you were called to do (because you are too busy chasing a more prestigious task); envy makes you focus on people, and not God (miss His wants, His affection, His purpose); envy makes you purposefully judge other people harshly to feel better about self (if judge quickly- think about this); envy takes away all feelings of contentment, joy, and security in your own life; envy causes you to resist helping others succeed; envy often even ruins your potential performance, because you are more focused on people around you than the task at hand; envy often takes away your desire to try, because someone will always be better anyway; envy effects your mental, emotional, spiritual, and even physical health: Proverbs 14:30. Envy effects your relationship with your spouse, in powerful ways. You are envious and jealous of others whom a loved one may like more. You are envious of your own spouse's abilities; envy causes you to lust after someone else because they are something that you can't have, and you deserve them; envy takes away your capacity to love those targeted: Romans 12:15. But, you look for reasons to be dissatisfied with them in order to feel better (you are happy when they are in need, and sad when they are happy (ever secretly find this is the case?); envy may stop prayers that would otherwise have been answered, because the reason for asking a good thing was out of envy, instead of love: James 4:3. Envy makes you totally thankless, making you miss the wonderful life that you have, the love you share, and the contentment you could be feeling; envy takes away all reward for anything you may do good, because the motivation is completely wrong. Many of us are miserable, many in sin, and some maybe even walking the path to damnation. all because we are so bent on what others have, think and do, that we can't love and serve God: James 4:4.
Being driven by envy or jealousy is like being infected with a disease. It gets into your system, and rots away inside. It becomes a thought process, a habit, a world view. It, in a way, becomes who you are. How do we beat such a disease? By taking the most basic and wonderful Truths we know about God's love, and making them a reality in our very soul. 1) Have faith and trust that I am loved just as I am (imperfect, second place in many things, but, never more secure) What else matters? 1 John 4:16,18. 2) Understand that who I am is not based upon being the best, most gifted, or most accomplished, but instead, who I am at the most basic and important level, to God is seen by how much I sacrificially love God and others, is seen by how obediently I follow His commands and His path. Peter himself, just minutes after Jesus had shown forgiveness for denying Him, had to be scolded for envy. John 21:19-22. What right do we have to question or dislike anything God does with another? Regardless of what God does with someone else, my success and my relationship with Him, will depend upon my love and obedience to what He calls me to do. 3) And this sacrificial love, and obedience requires that I get off the throne—that I become second in life: John 3:30. It requires that I truly live with the mind of Christ, not the Name only. It requires that I think about everything in life, with the exact opposite motivation from envy—selflessly wanting to serve others; selflessly wanting to reach them, heal them, show them truth, and love them (not be better than them, not beat them, not see them as enemies or competitors). 4) You must grasp the reality, that God has a plan and purpose for you: Psalm 139:16. And your goal is to find that purpose, not to outshine everyone else. Have real faith that He is working in such an awesome way with you, that you would not want to be like someone else if you could see His plan. 5) You must grasp the reality, of how unfathomably you are blessed right now: James 1:17. Just think for a moment, right now, of how much you have to be thankful for, and enjoy every day of your life, instead of missing every blessing, in greedy pursuit of one thing you want, that God hasn't intended for you anyway. Look around and see what you have, that no one else in the world has, right now, and spend life basking in it, drinking in every precious moment of it, rather than choosing to waste life in sourness over something you don't have or aren't best in, that wasn't meant for you anyway. Leave the worldly, "rat race" behind, and seize these moments of blessing. Realize that everything you are envious over right now, will pass away, leaving only the person you are in your heart. The love and obedience shown which is all that ever mattered anyway! Simply ask yourself these two questions: "Am I doing what God told me to do?" "Is God pleased with my life right now?" If you can answer them both positively, you have no reason to be envious or jealous of another soul in the world.
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