We are taught that jealousy is wrong. Indeed, it often leads to disastrous results. But is it normal? Or is it the result of some wrong thinking or wrong decisions? Find out.
First, it is essential to accurately define jealousy as compared to two other terms—envy and covetousness. Since I am a pastor of a church and often deal with jealousy in relationships, I will define all three Biblically as the Bible gives the clearest distinction between the three.
Covetousness – The desire of that which is not yours (Exodus 20:17, Deuteronomy 5:21).
Envy – Not only desiring what is not yours, but begrudging the one who does have it (Proverbs 23:17, 27:4, Matthew 27:18).
Jealousy – The fear that someone will take what you believe to already be yours (Exodus 20:5, Numbers 5:14, Proverbs 6:32-35).
Using these definitions as a guide, we can indeed conclude that jealousy is normal. Anytime you believe someone is taking away from you something you believe to be yours, you will be jealous. God Himself got jealous when His people began worshiping other gods.
But normal does not necessarily mean good. The feelings of jealousy are often from a fear of loss. And fear, as we know, is never a good thing. Our actions, rage, thoughts, and feelings that are born from such fear are rarely good and rarely accomplish anything positive.
But normal? Yes, it is normal. But though it is normal, it does not mean that we ought to give into the rage that often accompanies it. The effort to keep or protect something of yours that you feel to be in danger of being stolen is often overshadowed by the effect. In other words, if you feel some other man or woman is trying to steal your spouse, your efforts to keep him or her may result in the absolute destruction of your relationship.
It is important not to underestimate the power of jealousy. It can be all consuming. It can blind you to everything else around you to the point where all you see is your fear. Biblically speaking, the feelings of jealousy are never described as sinful, but the actions that often follow these feelings usually end up being sinful. It is therefore necessary to understand fully the consequences of not controlling the normal feelings of jealousy. You could end up destroying the very thing you want to preserve.
Relationships need to be built on something stronger than the mere feelings of possession. It is true, that when you are married you belong to each other, but a marriage needs to have more than that to make it work. Because if all you have of your relationship is jealousy, you don’t have much.
It was for this reason, God asked the Israelites to love Him with all their hearts, souls, and minds. He wanted something more than just “I am God, you are my people.”
Make your own relationships more valuable as well.
Greg S. Baker is a Pastor, Counselor, and Author specializing in building and strengthening relationships.
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