My friend walked up to the podium and gave a superb speech. She knocked it out of the park. While I should have been the one who was most happy for her, I couldn’t have mustered up the warm and fuzzy feeling of joy for my friend if someone had paid me. I felt horrible. What was the deal?
As much as I hate to admit it, I realized later that I was suffering from a severe case of the thing no one likes to talk about: jealousy. Defined as “a feeling of discontent or covetousness with regard to another’s success,” it has its way of sneakily creeping into our hearts without asking permission. It robs us of the joy of celebrating the successes of others (even when we want to) and destroys our ability to feel good in our own shoes. If we’re honest, it is the very opposite of the command to love our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22:39). If we really loved our neighbor as ourselves, we wouldn’t be jealous when others succeed. We’d be joyous.
The apostle Paul spoke of jealousy as a result of following the desires of our “sinful nature” rather than the desires of the Spirit (Galatians 5:19-21). The surest way to rid our lives of jealousy is to passionately pursue the things of the Spirit by:
Remembering. Each one of us is chosen and called by God for a unique and distinct purpose to fulfill in His kingdom (see Ephesians 1-3). When we remember that truth, there really is no reason to be jealous of what God is doing in the lives of others.
Reading. We are instructed not to “conform to the patterns of the world,” but to be “transformed by the renewing of our minds” (Romans 12:2). We can do this by studying and meditating upon Scripture each day. When we are becoming more and more like Jesus, jealousy becomes less and less of an issue.
Reflecting. Paul spoke about the importance of exposing darkness to the light (Ephesians 5:13). Having a regular practice of reflection at the end of each day allows us to let the Holy Spirit shed light on jealousy hiding in the dark corners of our souls. Then we can confess it to God and ask for help in overcoming it.
In a world of constant comparison and competition, we need to continue to pray for one another in the body of Christ, as Paul so eloquently did, that you and I may be strengthened with power through His Spirit in our inner being, so that Christ may dwell in our hearts through faith, and that we, being rooted and grounded in love, can have the strength to understand the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge (Ephesians 3:16-19).
Being filled up by the Spirit each day is the best and the only antidote to jealousy. I dare you to try it.
This article was originally published in Brink Magazine. For more articles like this one, you can check out Brink here.