How to Replace Jealousy with God's Gift of Abundance
What Does Jealousy Look Like to You
Take a minute and close your eyes. Then picture someone acting jealous towards someone else. What did you see?
When I did this exercise, I imagined a younger brother and sister together. Their mom got them each a bowl of ice cream, and she put it in front of them.
And one of them shouts, "He got more ice cream than me."
And the other one says,
"She got more sprinkles than me!"
Two kids arguing about who got more ice cream is how I picture jealousy.
I'm Not Jealous, or Am I?
When I approached jealousy from a biblical standpoint, at first glance, I think I'm good because I've certainly matured since I was young and had a fit when someone got more ice cream, more toys, or more attention than me.
But then I take a closer look, and I'm like, oh wait, maybe I have some work to do in the jealousy department.
For instance, I caught myself jealous at work when I saw how certain coworkers get away from only loosely following the rules. And if I'm honest, it bothered me.
But why should that bother me? Them doing those things wasn't taking anything away from me.
So why should it bother me? Why was I jealous? Why did I feel like it wasn't fair that they could do something that I couldn't?
Spiritual Root of Jealousy
I think it's because our worldly way approaches things from a scarcity mindset. We feel like there's only so much of this one thing, and if someone else has it, we can't.
God of Abundance
But I just don't think that's how God sees things. He's a God of abundance. And if we could just embrace His ways, I believe we would feel so much more joy. We wouldn't be stuck in comparison and envy. We would see each other as God does- people that he loves and cares for and wants to give to abundantly.
Scripture Verse on Abundance
There's this Bible passage that always comes to mind when I hear the word abundance.
Luke 6:38- Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."
I love that Scripture because it paints this beautiful picture of God pouring blessings into our lives. He shakes them down and stuffs them down so that He can give us even more.
If we followed God's lead, I think we would envy less.
Spirit of Jealousy in the Bible
The parable of the vineyard illustrates jealousy and envy perfectly. It's the story that described how a landowner had gone out into the marketplace and asked some people to come work for him in his fields. He offered them a set amount of money for the day. They agreed and went out early in the morning to work.
Then at nine, he saw some more people in the marketplace, and he invited them to come out and do work in his fields. And so it went on throughout the day. Some started work in the afternoon, and some closer to 5:00 p.m.
At the end of the day, they came to get their money. And the landowner had given everybody the same amount of money, whether they got there early in the morning or only worked an hour.
Does any of this sound familiar to you? I think of all the times I've felt I was treated unfairly at work, at home, and with friends. When you compare yourself with other people, suddenly, what you thought was fair, no longer seems fair.
Basically, the landowner said, Hey, it's my money, you agreed to the wage, and you were happy when I offered it to you. So what's it to you if I decide to give the same amount to someone else?
Jealousy and Envy Can be Sneaky
I think back to the two kids eating ice cream and how they both thought what they got was unfair because of what the other had. I wonder if we ever outgrow comparison.
Maybe it's not obvious when jealousy bubbles up inside you. It might feel a lot like the workers in the vineyard like you've been treated unfairly. Even though what someone else has doesn't take something away from you.
How a Shift in Perspective Helps with Jealousy Issues
The good news is I think God is inviting us to change our perspective when it comes to those around us. I think He wants us to know that he has an abundance of blessings for every one of us. And our blessings and experiences are unique to each one of us.
And what might happen if, instead of feeling disappointed when we see someone with the house, the husband, or the dream job we wanted, we instead saw it as an expression of God's love? Suddenly all we "lack" would be a reminder of God's love for each one of us.
Signs of a Jealous Heart
I think the way to less jealousy in our life is first to recognize it when we experience it. Sometimes jealousy isn't always easy to see. It's not as easy to spot as the kids with the bowl of ice cream. Sometimes I think jealousy comes out as:
When you recognize you're feeling hurt or sad, maybe even angry, that's a good time to stop being defensive and sort through what your feelings are trying to tell you. Perhaps you're not jealous, but you feel hurt or left out. In those moments, talk with Jesus about what you're feeling. Dig into Scripture to remind yourself how loved and wanted you are by God.
Practical Steps to Overcome Jealousy
- Shift your perspective. When you see other people's success or good fortune, take the opportunity to thank God for generously giving to them and thank Him for a recent blessing you've received.
- Have an honest conversation with Jesus. I don't know about you, but I used to guard my prayers with Jesus. If I were feeling something that didn't make me look like a good person, I wouldn't mention it. Like somehow, if I didn't talk about it, then He wouldn't know. I realized how silly that was because I know He knows my thoughts and struggles, and he loves me anyway. Just as I know, He loves you. So I encourage you to lay out what's on your heart, the good, the bad, the ugly, all of it. He already knows it. And he wants you to share so that he can help you.
- Build a friendship with Jesus. It's easier to see what He's blessed you with when you know who He is. Find out more on building a friendship with Jesus here.
- Stay rooted in Scripture to avoid jealousy. Another area that helps to overcome envy is staying rooted in His word. There is a considerable amount of Scripture on jealousy, envy, and its consequences. When you read those passages, they begin to paint a picture of what jealousy looks like and what it costs you.
- Start journaling your feelings. As you work on the areas in your life where you hold envy, consider journaling as a way to sort through why you feel a certain way.
The next time you find yourself pulled into comparison, I hope you remember this truth. God does not work from a place of scarcity. He is the God of abundance.
Scripture Based Journal Prompts on a God of Abundance
2 Corinthians 9:8: And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.
- Journal about a time that you felt an abundance of joy in your life.
- Journal about a time that you felt genuine happiness for something good that happened to somebody you knew in your life.
- Jot down the first five things that you can think of that bring you joy. Then write a prayer to Jesus, thanking him for those things.
From Jealousy to Joy
God blesses us in many different ways, but sometimes we're too busy wishing we had something more that we miss out on the happiness He wants us to have in the here and now.
In letting go of comparison, we can experience greater joy. And it's all because of the love Jesus pours out into our lives.
Additional Scripture on Jealousy and Envy
This is not an exhaustive list of Bible Scripture on Jealousy, but if you're interested in digging into a few more passages, you can find them here.
- Proverbs 14:30 (NIV)-A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.
- James 3:16 (NIV)- For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.
- James 3:14-38- But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such "wisdom" does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, and demonic. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.
- Luke 15:25-30 (NIV)-"Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 'Your brother has come,' he replied, 'and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.' "The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, 'Look! All these years, I've been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!'
- Acts 13:42-45 (NIV)-As Paul and Barnabas were leaving the synagogue, the people invited them to speak further about these things on the next Sabbath. When the congregation was dismissed, many of the Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who talked with them and urged them to continue in the grace of God. On the next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord. When the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy. They began to contradict what Paul was saying and heaped abuse on him.