We’ve all been there. Jealousy is not fun, but we have all experienced it. We’ve all resented someone because of his or her rivalry, success, or advantages. Its the skeleton in the closet for most people and leads to regretful, hurtful actions.
This is not new.
Since the first family on earth, jealousy has won our hearts and captivated our actions. Let me encapsulate the story of Cain and Abel, found in Genesis 4, for you.
Adam and Eve’s first born son was named Cain and they could not be more excited with God’s gift to them. Cain didn’t stay an only child for long when awhile later, Abel was born! As the boys grew, a time came when they needed to work the land they were blessed with and present gifts to God. Being a shepherd, Abel brought his best livestock to God. Since Cain tended to the harvest of the earth, he brought God some of his crops. Upon the presentation of offerings, He was very happy with Abel and accepted His gift, while rejecting Cain. Inside Cain, jealousy began to stir. God warned Cain to knock out how he was feeling internally instead of allowing it to control him. Ignoring the command of God, Cain killed his brother! The Lord confronted Cain about his brother and cursed the land he tended to, however, being a just and loving God, He promised Cain that no one would kill him, and anyone who did would receive seven times the punishment Cain received. With a mark of the Lord, Cain moved near Eden to settle his life.
Within this story, we acquire A LOT about jealousy. We recognize how jealousy can effect us, how God will hand it, and how God loves us through it.
“You will be accepted if you do what is right. But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master.” Genesis 4:7
In the verse above, God is speaking directly to Cain, after Cain is angered with God’s favor of his brother. If Cain does not do as the Lord asked him to, which is right, then jealousy will soon overcome him. How many times have you felt jealousy starting a fire deep within you, but did nothing to stop it? God calls us to “subdue it and be its master”. That sounds simple, but how do we do that?
If we head to the book of James, we are told how to suppress our jealousy.
“So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.” James 4:7-8
These two verses tell us exactly what to do. During any sinful action, we MUST move closer to God. The Greenie Meanie growing inside us is from the devil, so consequently, we need to move from the origin to remove the feeling he tempts us with. I could try to write that in another way, but I think you get the point – FLEE FROM JEALOUSY. (I guess I just wrote it in another way.. sorry)
Back to Genesis 4:7, God gives Cain the warning that He gives each one of us. When we are in a situation that ignites the jealousy fire inside of us, we have a choice to make. We can either act upon the jealousy or against it. Often times, I know I fall short of God and act as the Greenie Meanie inside that is begging to come out.
All throughout childhood, I had a best friend(Bop) who I spent must of any summer and a majority of the weekends with. One Saturday night, her neighbor and I went to Bop’s house. She always had some of the coolest stuff I had seen, including a crayon-shaped coin bank. Her brother had one too, which was necessary when we would have our occasional crayon battle(believe it or not, coin filled plastic tubes hurt). The other girl and I began to play with the crayon, taking turns of course. It always starts that way with children; toys are shared nicely at first but as the excitement rises often so does jealousy, and the nice sharing abruptly vanishes. As time went on, we both wanted the crayon at the same time, and Bop noticed it was becoming tense. She pleaded that we stop fighting over the crayon, but of course we did not respond how she requested. What we did not realize was we were seconds away from a broken crayon-coin-bank, a sad Bop, and coins everywhere. While Bop petitioned our battle for the crayon, there was an internal battle occurring. Do I listen to Bop, and give up my desire for the crayon, or do I fight hard, disregarding Bop, to strive toward having the crayon?
These battles don’t last very long with children; they want what they want and they won’t stop until they get it. However, jealousy was very present in my heart and I made the decision of continuing to fight, neglecting the worries Bop had.
As you can imagine, Bop’s neighbor and I had some punishment for not listening, and breaking her belonging. Our punishment was a few minutes in time-out, which probably seemed to last an eternity, and to help clean up the coins; you make the mess, you clean it up. Our punishment appeared to be the end of the world to our elementary minds, but it was nothing compared to God’s punishment for Cain.
“Now you are cursed and banished from the ground, which has swallowed your brother’s blood. No longer will the ground yield good crops for you, no matter how hard you try! From now on you will be a homeless wanderer on the earth.” Genesis 4:11-12
Since Cain deliberately sinned against God, he had to be punished by God. Cain’s fields would no longer profit him leaving Cain with nothing, making him homeless. Cain started to cry to God, deeming this unfair and protesting that his punishment, will result in his murdrer. But God thought otherwise.
God is just, powerful and loving. All who believe in Him are His children to the highest degree. He is our biggest fan, and we are His treasured possessions. Hearing Cain doubt His love, He reassures Cain,
“The Lord replied, ‘No, for I will give a sevenfold punishment to anyone who kills you.’ Then the Lord put a mark on Cain to warn anyone who might try to kill him.” Genesis 4:15
When I broke Bop’s crayon, I had a punishment or two; there were consequences. I am certain that I argued my punishment. I am certain I saw it unjust that I had to pick up the coins that lay on the ground, now homeless. But I had to, because I acted in my jealousy which created a mess. With a doubt, I was afraid the rest of the night would surround my wrongful actions. I was afraid I would be persecuted the rest of my stay. However, to my surprise, Bop’s mom, who was just punishing me, was showing love, forgiveness, and mercy. We were provided safety in her home, food to eat, and an atmosphere to giggle as long as we pleased.
How wonderful is it that even though we may act in jealousy, we are provided, by God, a way out? God allows us to choose to move away from the evil temptations, closer to His goodness so that we may be sheltered under His promise of love.
The next time you become jealous, sadly it will happen again, remember James 4:7-8. Take a step back and make the conscious decision to move closer to God who loves us and provides us with what we need. Reset the devil in all that you do, but know that when we, God’s children, desert our Father’s teachings, He will always protect us.
My prayer for you is that the devil stays far from you. I pray that when he lingers close to your heart and tempts you to act against God, you choose to follow Christ and move from his evil acts.
Until next post, Look Up and Keep Going!