Young People Ask . . .
How Can I Get Rid of My Jealous Feelings?
‘Carol was enjoying a noonday break in a coffee shop when she blurted out the good news that she was promoted to a new job with a fabulous raise in pay. Her friend nearby almost choked on her cheesecake when she heard the news. But she managed to pull herself together and pretend that she was happy for Carol. However, deep down inside she felt sick to her stomach. You see, she had tried for the same job and had been turned down. Carol, she felt, had nowhere near the qualifications that she did—and yet Carol got the promotion! That did not seem fair. Her friend thus began to look upon Carol as a rival. Feelings of jealousy overwhelmed her. What was she to do? How could she overcome her jealousy?’
SCENES such as this one, portrayed by author Mary Long in Family Weekly, are quite common. Few of us are able to suppress an occasional secret envy at a friend’s good fortune. But when one is continually suffering from jealousy, it is more than a momentary discomfort. In severe cases jealousy is able to restrict, distort and blacken all that a person does or feels. As one writer put it: “Jealousy hurts: It seems to take us over, body and soul. Few feelings are quite as overwhelming—except, perhaps, for love.” Jealousy has thus been referred to as a deadly sin. The Bible book of Proverbs asks: “Who can stand before jealousy?”—Proverbs 27:4.
Since all of us are imperfect, there may be traces of such jealousy in each of us. It has a way of showing up in indirect aspects or under special circumstances. Our responsibility is not to ignore harmful jealousy but to learn to suppress it and bring it under control by the power of God’s spirit. (Galatians 5:25, 26) Doing so is a sign that, although young, you are a mature Christian.
Jealousy—Good and Bad
On the one hand, jealousy can mean a proper zeal for what is right. Even Jehovah is referred to as “a jealous God,” which means he is zealous for his good name, for truth and for righteousness. His devoted servants are also on occasion described as jealous.—Exodus 34:14; 2 Corinthians 11:2.
On the other hand, all too often jealousy is wrongly motivated or is misdirected. The jealous person may suspect others without cause or resent the attention that others receive, feeling that he alone is entitled to it. Elizabeth, for example, finds herself jealous over the attention her sister receives. Says she: “The fact that [my sister] is so together at her age and can do a lot of things I’ll probably never be able to makes me jealous . . . I get angry at myself for being angry because I know I shouldn’t feel that way.”
Whatever its cause, improper jealousy has destructive power. It can rob a person of sleep, cause anguish, be responsible for stomach and mental disorders. It can also breed anger and hatred and even lead to a serious crime. Cain allowed his jealousy to lead him to murder his brother Abel!
Jealousy can ruin the best of relationships. Normally we do not like people who are openly jealous. The Bible tells of how Rachel got jealous of her sister Leah. This disturbed their sisterly relationship. (Genesis 30:1) Joseph’s brothers were likewise jealous over the relationship Joseph had with his father. Only after many years and much heart searching were their differences resolved. (Genesis 37:4; Acts 7:9) King Saul of Israel allowed his jealousy to flare up when the women of Israel acclaimed David their champion. “Saul has struck down his thousands, and David his tens of thousands,” they sang. (1 Samuel 18:7) Saul’s jealousy filled him with rage, suspicion and hatred. He finally lost all reason in the pursuit of David. The sad fact was that there was no reason for such behavior. David was no threat to Saul’s kingship.
How, then, can you bring jealousy under control. Well, when Cain was jealous over the success of his brother Abel, God said to Cain: “Turn to doing good . . . But if you do not turn to doing good, there is sin crouching at the entrance, and for you is its craving; and will you, for your part, get the mastery over it?” (Genesis 4:7) Jealousy cannot be mastered apart from doing good. Cain refused to do good. He did not listen to God’s advice. He murdered his brother. When jealousy comes over you, will you listen to God’s sound counsel: “Turn to doing good”?
The Bible further shows that intense love is essential for gaining mastery over jealousy. We read: “Love is not jealous.” (1 Corinthians 13:4) There is more self-love in jealousy than there is love for others. But forcing ourselves to think well of—even pray for—those who arouse jealousy in us has a way of cooling down jealousy. It tends to bring it under control.
Reassurance from others is another way of controlling jealousy. If parents see jealousy at work in their child, they often try to reassure the child of their love. They remind the child that he or she has gifts that others do not have, and that in the end all things have a way of balancing out. And if the child locks herself in her room because her sister seems to be the center of attention, the mother can help the child get a balanced and proper view of herself. She can embrace her and speak a few encouraging words, such as: “Your sister is popular, but God has given you gifts too. He has gifted you with a wonderful personality, which is a rare beauty all of its own. It is a beauty that husbands love.”
If feelings of jealousy afflict you, should you feel you are too old to benefit from the reassurance of your parents? No doubt they have much to say that can help you enjoy the success of others. They can help you show feelings of love and affection toward people who arouse envy in you.
Sometimes people of a more sensitive nature brood when jealousy strikes. Such ones need to talk out their feelings. Draw jealousy to the surface. Bring it out in the open. See what is biting or irritating you. It does more harm to the spirit if you suppress jealousy than if you allow others to know how you feel.
Your friends, too, often need reassurance. If, for example, you begin a new acquaintance, you can assure your closest friend, “Do not worry about my relationship with Ann, for nothing can replace our friendship.” A few words like that may be all that is necessary to prevent jealousy from taking root. When Eldad and Medad received God’s spirit apart from Moses’ presence, Joshua became jealous for his master Moses. Moses corrected Joshua with reassuring words: “I wish that all of Jehovah’s people were prophets, because Jehovah would put his spirit upon them!” (Numbers 11:10-29) Joshua was content with that.
So be helpful. Try to avoid arousing jealousy in others. Girls often flaunt their clothes, women their engagement rings. People boast about promotions. Women lauded David’s exploits in a song giving David greater honor than King Saul. Consider the effect your words and actions may have on others. This will do much to help you to control jealousy and preserve good relationships.
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Some feel jealous when they see a close friend begin to show attention to someone else
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At times we can help a friend overcome jealousy by reassuring him or her of our loyal friendship