It’s in the tightening of your chest, the bile in your throat, and the knot in your stomach. It flashes in lightning fast, infecting whatever happiness or hope you feel. Every child knows it. Every adult knows it. It’s that fierce, familiar green monster –
We envy someone else: their looks, their job, their family, their vacations, their skills, their money. And it’s something so overwhelmingly common that we tend to overlook it. We minimize its sinfulness and allow it to fester to our soul’s detriment.
We don’t like to put jealousy to death. Instead, we feed it. We tend to it. We give it life.
How to Put Jealousy to Death
But jealousy and envy are soul-enemies, and Scripture warns us against them over and over. We’re told that jealousy is a fruit of the flesh (Galatians 5:21), an antonym of love (1 Corinthians 13:4), a symptom of pride (1 Timothy 6:4), a catalyst for conflict (James 3:16), and a mark of unbelievers (Romans 1:29).
So what does killing jealousy actually look like? Ultimately, it’s identifying it as evil and then attacking it with truth.
Here are four practical ways to do that.
1. Recognize jealousy as deception.
Recognizing jealousy is the hardest part of killing it. Our hearts are often drowning in envy, yet we don’t even realize it.
Begin paying attention to your thoughts and feelings and responses. When you see jealousy rearing its ugly, green head, recognize it as deceptive thinking. Jealousy pretends to be a friend. It wants to sympathetically vindicate your sinful feelings by fostering discontentment and self-pity. It seeks to convince you that someone else has the all-satisfying happiness you crave.
But it’s a lie. The thoughts motivating your envy are false and crippling – that house, money, vacation, job, kid, parent, or number on the scale will not fulfill you. In those moments, grasp for this lifeline of truth: Your hope isn’t found in your circumstances being “better;” it’s in the unchangeable work of Christ (Psalm 42:5).
2. Repent of idolatry.
At its root, jealousy is idolatry. We’re placing our satisfaction in something that’s not God, and we’re saying he’s not sufficient for us. Because of that, the only right response is to repent, turning from the poison of our envy and running to the throne room of grace.
3. Confront jealousy with joy.
The lie of jealousy is, “If only things were like this, I would be happy.” But the truth is, the opposite happens, as jealousy feeds a deep, hungry dissatisfaction. Instead of confronting discontentment with jealousy, confront it with joy. Choose joy. Fight for joy. Instead of measuring your happiness against someone else’s success, root yourself in the incomparable truths of the gospel.
A few days ago, I was on Instagram and stumbled across a picture of a girl the same age as me doing something I would love to do. And I felt it: the stinging seed of jealousy sprouting fast. I want to do that. I wish that was me. Why her?
In that moment, I was faced with a choice: to dwell on my discontentment or preach the gospel to myself. I could wallow in dissatisfaction or remind myself of the riches I have in Jesus. I could believe that I knew everything going on in her life or recognize that I was only seeing the curated version she posts on social media. I could boil in envy or embrace the truth that this is God’s will for her life right now – and not for mine.
I could compare my life to hers or rejoice in the blessings God has given me.
We are faced with these choices every day. Will we confront our jealousy with joy?
4. Count your blessings.
Counterattack jealousy by cultivating gratitude. Notice and savor the blessings all around you. The sunshine. Your pets. A delicious ice cream cone. Your church. Flowers. Flip flops. Transportation. God’s Word. Your family. Good books. There are small mercies around us 24/7 – but we need to be willing to pay attention.
And once we notice them, we ought to thank God for them. He is the gift-giver, the fount of all blessings, so we put jealousy to death by thanking him for beauty and goodness.
Jealousy Deserves Death – So Kill It
Like poisonous snakes or roaring fires, jealousy is too deadly to play with. Don’t pretend that jealousy is no big deal, that you need to focus your energy on fighting “bigger” sins. Jealousy is idolatry. It’s sin. Don’t just wound it, bruise it, suppress it, or maim it – kill it.
For jealousy is one of the sins Christ paid for on the cross, which means it deserves death. Jesus died for jealous people, and that’s good news for us because we are jealous people. So there is hope in Christ! Run to him, trust in him, rest in him, pursue satisfaction in him, and – by his Spirit – seek to kill jealousy today.