Being envious or jealous about other people’s possessions or lives is a common occurrence in society. We see nice things people have and we desire them too. We see how other people live their lives and may be jealous of their families or jobs. Jealousy is all around us and often times we exhibit it. So how can we stop being jealous of other people and start being content? We are going to look into Scripture to answer this question. Let us begin our study.
First off, we must realize that because we are in the flesh we desire earthly things. Paul recognizes this in 1 Corinthians 3:3 when he says, “For you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way?”. The evil nature and way of this world tells us to want more and more. Society tells us that we should never be satisfied and that if we want something we deserve it and should get it. When we desire something someone else has, we develop jealousy. It’s so easy to do but not as easy to stop. We must also be aware that jealousy leads to evil. James 3:16 says, “For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.” Jealousy and envy leads to chaos and evil practices.
So how do we overcome being jealous of other people and their possessions? How do we stop and be content with what we have in our lives? The answer is this, set your heart and mind on things above. Let’s explain further. Looking at this from a logical standpoint, if we do not want to desire things of this world then we must not think about things of this world. This sounds almost impossible to do considering we live in a physical world. But God tells us that our minds must be thinking about the spiritual things of life and not the temporary physical possessions of this life. Let’s look at a passage to help explain this further. Galatians 5:16-26,
“So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited,provoking and envying each other.”
The Spirit and the flesh are two different entities. The flesh desires sin. The Spirit desires things of God. Therefore, if we are in Christ Jesus, we no longer desire the things of this world. Why? Because if we are in Christ Jesus, Christ is living in us (Galatians 2:20). Likewise, if we are in Christ, we have put off the old self, meaning the old desires of the flesh, and have put on the new self, which desires spiritual things (Ephesians 4:22-24). Romans 8:5 tells us to set our minds on spiritual things, “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.” So what are the things of the Spirit? Many of them are mentioned in Galatians 5:22-23, which are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. These qualities are the things we should be desiring, not the earthly possessions that will pass away.
In conclusion, we all struggle with jealousy, we all want something someone else has or wish we were in their shoes. But when we do, we must stop and remember that we should be desiring spiritual things. We should desire to love more, to be patient more, to have more self-control. Those things are things of the Spirit and we should desire those things. Always remember to have your mind set on things above and jealousy will soon fade.