God’s Word says in Proverbs 23:17, “Let not your heart envy sinners, but continue in the fear of the Lord all the day.” To envy or to be jealous of someone does not mean only that we want what someone else has. If we are honest, we have to confess that being jealous means also that we are sad when things are going very well for someone else. Likewise, we rejoice when things are not going well for another person.
Jealousy in Action
In my early twenties, I had the privilege of helping organize, together with three other close friends, the wedding reception of my best friend from the University of Stuttgart in Germany.
By God’s grace, all of us were not only believers, but we were all very active in the Christian student ministry on our campus. In addition to helping lead the Christian student ministry, the friend who got married and two of the other friends and I got together early every Friday morning to pray together and to eat breakfast. The depth of our friendship and the bond that we had in Christ was a special gift of the Lord.
Preparations for the wedding reception began about a year in advance, as this was a huge wedding with lots of guests at a great venue.
Finally, the day of the wedding arrived, and after a beautiful and God-centered worship service, everyone drove to the venue where the wedding reception was being held. In South Germany, a wedding reception oftentimes goes from 2 p.m. until past midnight with lots of great programs for the guests. After a few hours at the wedding reception, I suddenly noticed that I had gotten increasingly jealous of the three friends with whom I was leading the wedding celebrations. No matter what they did, any interview or funny skit, it all turned out great. The things I did went fine, but it was nothing in comparison to how things were going for them. I could already see people raving about how well they had done everything. So, I realized that in my heart I was sad when things were going great for them, and I had started to hope that maybe this or that might not go so well for them.
As a result of my envy, I had lost both joy and gratitude in the midst of the wedding celebration. I could tell that even physically I wasn’t feeling well, which is no surprise when one reads Proverbs 14:30: “A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot.”
By God’s grace, I recognized my sin of envy, and I asked the Lord to forgive me. Afterward, I was able truly to enjoy the rest of the wedding celebration and rejoice with my friends when things went great for them.
May Christ remind us often of who we are in Him and that we are perfectly loved by Him. We have no need to compare ourselves anymore with others.