Henry looked on angrily as the audience applauded. The deafening applause filled the fully packed auditorium as Mark walked down the aisle to the podium. The Master of Ceremonies held his hand high before the crowd while the Chairman of the Award Ceremony read the citation on him. Everybody praised him for his sterling performance and whispered, “You deserve it!” “You are the man!” and “Congratulations!”
While all this was going on, Henry was fuming and ranting in his seat. “He does not deserve it. It’s a fluke. It should have been me and not that dull nonentity,” Henry murmured within himself. The frown on his face was evident, attracting attention from the audience. When he could not stand it any longer, he flounced out of the auditorium, cursing himself and the organizers of the programme. But why was Henry angry with himself and everybody when his colleague was being honoured for his achievements which everybody acknowledged he deserved? Burning inside him was the spirit of jealousy or envy. The feeling that what was happening to Mark should have been conferred on him or that it should not have happened to Mark at all.
WHAT IS JEALOUSY OR ENVY?
The Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary defines jealousy as “a feeling of unhappiness and anger because someone has something or someone that you want.” Envy, which is synonymous with jealousy, is defined by the same dictionary as “the feeling that you wish you had something that someone else has.” Have you ever felt like that before? I have and I believe many people have felt the same on one occasion or the other. But the thing about jealousy is that because it is a feeling, thus an inward trait, many people do not openly display it. They hide it from the public and pretend all is well, while inside them they are hurting. Jealousy is dangerous because it festers inwardly and eats us away to the point where we are unable to contain it any longer.
Many great men and women of God have had themselves and their ministries destroyed as a result of jealousy. Pastor Mawuli was enjoying the praise of his members until the young pastor who had just passed out from college was sent to him to be his assistant. Initially, he allowed him to preach, pray for the sick and also lead the deliverance program. People began to hail the young assistant by lavishing gifts on him. Most of the people stopped going to Pastor Mawuli. This did not go down well with him and so he stopped his junior pastor from performing duties in the Church.
The members felt unhappy and complained to Pastor Mawuli many times but he refused to listen to them. The young pastor started a prayer fellowship in a member’s house and in no time, the fellowship grew by leaps and bounds. Unable to cope with the young pastor’s success, Pastor Mawuli decided to write false letters concerning his subordinate to their head office which finally led to his transfer. Unfortunately for him, all the members who followed his assistant pastor did not return to his Church, leaving the chapel practically empty.
King Saul was enjoying the admiration of the women in Israel until David killed Goliath and the women sang his praise; hailing him above Saul.
In 1 Samuel 18:6-11 we read: 6 When the men were returning home after David had killed the Philistine, the women came out from all the towns of Israel to meet King Saul with singing and dancing, with joyful songs and with tambourines and lutes. 7As they danced, they sang: “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands.”
Saul was very angry; this refrain galled him. “They have credited David with tens of thousands,” he thought, “but me with only thousands. What more can he get but the kingdom?” 9 And from that time on Saul kept a jealous eye on David.
The next day an evilbspirit from God came forcefully upon Saul. He was prophesying in his house, while David was playing the harp, as he usually did. Saul had a spear in his hand 11and he hurled it, saying to himself, “I’ll pin David to the wall.” But David eluded him twice.
What about the brothers of Joseph? They were jealous of him first of all, because their father loved him more and secondly, because of the dreams he had which he narrated to his brothers.
Now Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other sons, because he had been born to him in his old age; and he made a richly ornamented robe for him.
When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him.
Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more. 6 He said to them, “Listen to this dream I had: 7We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it.”
His brothers said to him, “Do you intend to reign over us? Will you actually rule us?” And they hated him all the more because of his dream and what he had said. 9 Then he had another dream, and he told it to his brothers. “Listen,” he said, “I had another dream, and this time the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.”
When he told his father as well as his brothers, his father rebuked him and said, “What is this dream you had? Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow down to the ground before you?” 11His brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the matter in mind.(Genesis 37:3-11).
When Cain could not stand the success of his brother, Abel’s sacrifice, he allowed himself to be seized with jealousy and unable to manage it, killed his brother in cold blood.(Genesis 4:4-8)
CAUSES OF JEALOUSY OR ENVY
The causes of jealousy or envy are many but for the sake of space, I will enumerate just a few. One of them is INSECURITY. Insecure people are over-protective of themselves. Since they are insecure, they try to build a wall around themselves so as to prevent others from coming into their territory in case they expose their vulnerability. They look down on people so as to project themselves. Insecure people also hate competition. They are afraid that they will lose so they do not engage themselves in one and as such, they become rusty and stale.
Insecure people are so preoccupied with what others possess to the extent that, they are unaware of the potentials God has deposited in them. Pastor Mawuli could not contain his young assistant pastor because he over concentrated on his assistant’s success, thus he failed to recognize his own ability. Before his assistant came, he was doing well. If he had no gift at all, he could not have brought the congregation to where it was before his subordinate came.
Another cause of jealousy is FEAR. The fear of failure and the fear that ‘others will do better than me’ can cause jealousy and envy. Fearful people are timid and so they do not make the attempt to go all out to venture into anything. Success belongs to those who are bold and are not afraid of failure. Successful people rather see failure as a way of stretching their minds to think above themselves in order to achieve the unprecedented. And because the timid fear to venture into anything, they become jealous of the bold and the confident person who seems to be making headway in his or her endeavours.
The parable of the talents is a classic example. The servant who had one talent was afraid of running at a loss should he invest and since he saw his master as a wicked boss who probably would chide him for his failure, rather decided to bury his talent. Matthew 25:15-25 NIV. ‘So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’ – V 25.
King Saul was afraid that David would take over his kingdom if he kept on winning battles and the women kept singing his praise.
Yet another cause of jealousy or envy is PRIDE. People who are proud think that they alone deserve praise and commendation. So when they see others doing better than them, they feel jealous. “Why should this man who came on the scene recently be chosen as the president? Am I not better than him and have we all not been here before he came on the scene?”
The next cause of jealousy is SELFISHNESS or SELF-CENTREDNESS. Those who are selfish do not wish the good of their neighbours. Instead of celebrating with the victor, they rather seek ways to eliminate them so as to deprive them of their victory.
Let us examine the case of Daniel.
Daniel 6:3-8 (NIV):
3Now Daniel so distinguished himself among the administrators and the satraps by his exceptional qualities that the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom. 4 At this, the administrators and the satraps tried to find grounds for charges against Daniel in his conduct of government affairs, but they were unable to do so. They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent. 5 Finally these men said, “We will never find any basis for charges against this man Daniel unless it has something to do with the law of his God.”
6 So the administrators and the satraps went as a group to the king and said: “O King Darius, live forever! 7 The royal administrators, prefects, satraps, advisers and governors have all agreed that the king should issue an edict and enforce the decree that anyone who prays to any god or man during the next thirty days, except to you, O king, shall be thrown into the lions’ den.
CONSEQUENCES OF JEALOUSY OR ENVY
Jealous people are unproductive. They concentrate on the success of others and fail to work on their own talents. They also gossip and dig under people in order to destroy their success. Such people are not good team players and therefore cannot help the cause of any venture. Anger and hatred are also the by-products of jealousy. Once a jealous person begins to get angry at those who are progressing, hatred sets in and the end result is the desire to kill or eliminate the successful person.
Ahab and Jezebel conspired and eliminated Naboth so as to take his possession. 1 Kings 21:11-16 (NIV): 11So the elders and nobles who lived in Naboth’s city did as Jezebel directed in the letters she had written to them. 12They proclaimed a fast and seated Naboth in a prominent place among the people.13 Then two scoundrels came and sat opposite him and brought charges against Naboth before the people, saying, “Naboth has cursed both God and the king.” So they took him outside the city and stoned him to death. 14Then they sent word to Jezebel: “Naboth has been stoned and is dead.” 15 As soon as Jezebel heard that Naboth had been stoned to death, she said to Ahab, “Get up and take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite that he refused to sell you. He is no longer alive, but dead.” 16When Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, he got up and went down to take possession of Naboth’s vineyard.
IS THERE ANY CURE FOR JEALOUSY?
So what is the way out of this cancerous phenomenon? The first cure for jealousy is to acknowledge the fact that everyone is unique and that God has endowed us with different gifts for specific purposes and to the glory of His name. It is therefore important to identify your area of giftedness in life and pursue it. One must also learn to accept his or her gift and endeavour to sharpen it. We are all different and are endowed with talents that cannot be compared to any other person’s. We must therefore appreciate what God has given us and be content with it.
Another way out is to specialize in your gifted area. One must not be a Jack of all trades and a master of none. When we specialize in the area of our talents we become conversant with them and can therefore excel in them without much struggle. As we specialize in our gifted areas, we become content within ourselves and therefore we do not envy others. We must also learn to praise those who do well in their chosen areas and try to celebrate them rather than envy them. Finally, as Christians, we must know that jealousy is a sin. It does not please God when we envy what He has given to others. We must therefore resist the temptation of envying others. Whenever you feel like envying somebody, rebuke that spirit and ask the Holy Spirit to help you celebrate with the person, for the Scriptures enjoin us to rejoice with those who are rejoicing.
Rev. F. L. Sackitey is the District Pastor of Global Evangelical Church, Kpong in the Koforidua Presbytery – firstname.lastname@example.org