What Does The Bible Say About Jealousy

Jealousy is a deeply rooted emotion that can be hard to control, but the Bible has several teachings on handling the feelings and responding to the situations which inspire such feelings. In the Bible, God’s people experienced and demonstrated jealousy just like everyone else. What the Bible encourages, however, is not empowering jealousy, but instead to overcome it, replacing it with understanding and love when possible. Here’s a look at some of the main Bible verses about jealousy.

One of the most commonly known verses about jealousy is found in Proverbs 14:30: “A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.” Here, it’s shown that those who are jealous are adversely affected; the emotion is harmful to one’s physical health as well as to their mental and spiritual wellbeing.

Romans 12:15 cautions believers to avoid being overcome by anger or envy. James 3:16 states that envy and selfish ambition can lead to disorder and evil, so believers should strive to be pure and peace-loving instead. Paul also warns believers in 1 Corinthians 3:3 to beware of being overly jealous, as jealousy is a sign of immaturity.

The Bible also draws attention to the destructive nature of envy and jealousy. Galatians 5:19-21 lists jealousy and envy as sinful behaviors that prevent believers from entering the kingdom of God. And Proverbs 27:4 shows how destructive jealousy can be to relationships; left unchecked, it can ruin even the most intimate relationships. The Bible also recognizes that envy and jealousy can be used for God’s glory, as is evident in the story of Joseph and his brothers (in Genesis 37-50).

The Old and New Testaments both present jealousy as an emotion to be reckoned with and managed responsibly. Jesus himself teaches us in John 15:12 to ‘love one another as I have loved you.’ It’s obvious that the Bible has a strong unwillingness for believers to allow emotions of envy and jealously take control of their actions or behaviours.

Learn to Love

The Bible speaks of love as the highest emotion. Luke 6:27-28 states “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you”. From this, it is clear that the Bible’s message is: love, kindness, and patience overcome envy, anger, and jealousy.

Exodus 20:17 speaks directly against coveting, the act of envying and admiring someone else’s possessions. It’s clear that coveting has the potential to cause both physical and non-physical damage, and is therefore something that we should all actively seek to avoid.

By teaching us that Jesus is love and that we should love as he does, the Bible is teaching us to lead in such a way that envy, jealousy and its accompanying emotions need not be a part of our lives. The Bible is also encouraging us to look past the confines of the physical plane, to think more deeply and in more spiritual terms.

Seek Equanimity

In Matthew 5:3-12, Jesus speaks of the importance of a heart that is at peace and His desire for us to seek harmony with others. He speaks of the ‘peaceful’ and the ‘meek,’ of those who have learned to stand up without hatred in their heart, without jealousy for the success of others.

The Bible also encourages believers to strive for equanimity; a person who can remain calm in the face of difficult situations. Ephesians 4:32 says “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you”. This speaks clearly of the importance of always forgiving, no matter the circumstance, and attempting to lead with kindness instead of jealousy or envy.

Philippians 4:8 speaks of the importance of memorizing and living by the praiseworthy things taught by the Bible. It’s clear that the Bible encourages us to become the masters of our own emotions, instead of allowing them to become our masters.

Believers should take the time to understand what the Bible has to say about jealousy, as only in so doing can they put jealousy in its rightful place, keeping it in check and following the teachings of loving and understanding instead.

Be Open To Correction

Proverbs 15:10 speaks of the importance of being open to correction and understanding. It states “Gentle correction is better than a tough reprimand; a loving rebuke brings more change than a fearful scolding”. By welcoming correction and allowing ourselves to recognize mistakes and flaws, we are allowing our negative emotions, such as envy and jealousy, to be clarified and grow into something more virtuous.

James 3:2 states “We all stumble in many ways. If someone is never at fault in what they say, they are perfect, able to keep their whole body in check”. Again, we see the importance of being humble and recognizing error. Given that envy and jealousy often lead us to destructive behaviors, understanding when we are fostering such feelings allows us to take control of them and become the peacemakers the Bible commands us to be.

Proverbs 19:11 speaks of the importance of being wise. It states “Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense”. Holding onto anger and jealousy in an attempt to outdo and outshine others is misguided. As the Bible teaches, overlooking an offense is the wiser path to take.

Be Thankful

The Bible encourages us to be thankful in all circumstances and to recognize the importance of the good things in our lives, no matter how small. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 tells us: “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus”. Not only does being thankful remove the room for envy and jealousy, but it also helps us to put our trust in God; knowing that despite the challenges, He is always with us and has our back.

Several other verses in the Bible tell us to give thanks to god in the face of adversity, and not to become jealous of what others have, or of what we are lacking. Colossians 3:15 advises “Let the peace of God rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful”.

The Bible also speaks of being thankful for the good things that others have. Ephesians 4:29 encourages us to “Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear”.

By being kind, compassionate and open to correction, and by cultivating a heart of thankfulness and surrender to God’s will, we can leave envy and jealousy behind and live in harmony with those around us.

Savour Simplicity

The Bible speaks of the beauty of leading a relieved life of simplicity, free from envy and jealousy. 1 Peter 5:7 states “casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you” which shows us the immense importance of prayer, and surrendering our worries and troubles to God, allowing Him to worried for us instead.

Hebrews 13:6 also encourages us to simplify our lives: “So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” This speaks directly of the spiritual benefits to be had when we relinquish our envy and jealousy and focus on humbly serving God’s will as best we can.

In Luke 12:15, Jesus teaches us to be satisfied with what we have and encourages us to be content in our situations: “And He said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions”. Through this, Jesus is reminding us that materialistic processions mean nothing compared to the essentials, such as faith and love.

It’s clear that the Bible has much to say about envy and jealousy, and much to teach us about the harm they can do to our lives. It is only by following the Bible’s teachings that we can hope to control these emotions, before they become full-blown, and learn to lead instead with love and understanding.

Work With Others

In the face of jealousy, Romans 12:16 advises us to “Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited”. Here, we are encouraged to remember our mutual humanity and recognize the importance of working together for a greater good. In so doing, we can have an understanding that jealousy is useless.

1 Corinthians 12:25-26 states: “so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it”. Through this, we are shown the importance of working together and sharing in one another’s joy, even during difficult times.

Ephesians 4:2-3 of instructs us to “be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace”. This serves as a reminder that peace can be attained through humility and love, rather than rivalry and jealousy.

The Bible speaks of unity, and by recognizing this, believers can help to build a culture which celebrates the good in the individual, rather than the envy that is fostered when believing that the only way to survive is by competing with one another.

Seek Wisdom

Wisdom is something that will help us to keep jealousy and envy in check, as it teaches us of our true worth and calling in life. Proverbs 3:13-14 states “Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold”. Here, wisdom is seen as a greatly beneficial thing. Not only does it offer physical rewards, but it also keeps enviable thoughts and behaviors in check.

Proverbs 8:13 also speaks of wisdom: “To fear the Lord is to hate evil; I hate arrogant pride, evil conduct, and perverse speech”. Here, fear of God and hatred of evil is seen as a wisdom that we should all seek to cultivate in our lives.

In Proverbs 4:7, we are told: “The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom, and whatever you get, get insight”. Through this verse, we are encouraged to go and seek the knowledge that will ultimately help us to become free from the harmful behaviors

Marcos Reyna is a Christian author and speaker. He is dedicated to helping create disciples of Christ through spreading the power of the gospel to others. He has written several books and articles on a variety of theological topics, including matters of faith, worship, biblical studies, practical ethics, and social justice. A trained theologian and devotee of spiritual writing, Marcos has a mission to spread Christian love everywhere. He lives with his family in Nashville, TN where he spends his days encouraging others to seek Christ's grace in all things.

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