Fight Jealousy with Three Gospel Truths

Lindsey Carlson

Lindsey Carlson | 04.24.14
Twitter: @WorshipRejoices


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"Her piece is bigger!" my child protested as he pushed away the piece of apparently-too-small-birthday cake.

"I want a bigger one like hers."

As I rolled my eyes and heaved an annoyed sigh, I realized the pieces of cake were different sizes. Obviously, I didn't pay careful attention to how equally I cut the cake. I plopped the smaller piece in front of the baby and returned to cutting more uniform slices. What I really wanted to say was, "So what that your cake isn't as big as your sister's? Life's not fair. Eat your cake."

Jealousy is a surprisingly easy and readily available trap.

I didn't say that though, because I can relate to those feelings of apparent injustice. I may not fuss (outwardly) over a smaller piece of cake, but I've been known to stomp my foot heavenward when I don't get what someone else gets. Something inside me wants to have everything I want and everything everyone else has. Maybe you can relate?

I could make lists of things I'm quick to envy:

  • my friend's new house
  • the new furniture she just picked out
  • her perfectly maintained flower beds
  • her always-clean car

Maybe it's her:

  • free time
  • fit figure
  • ability to turn every Pinterest project into reality

Perhaps I envy:

  • the way her kids obey in public all the time
  • the way her husband showers her with romantic gestures
  • the success she's experiencing in ministry

Whatever it is, when someone possesses something and I don't, my inner five-year-old screams with jealousy.

In Exodus 20:17 the Scripture calls this coveting: "You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor's." In other words, the Bible calls these all-too-common feelings, sinful.

Jealousy indicates three false assumptions on my part:

  1. If she has something, I should have it too.
  2. If God loves me, He will provide me with everything I want.
  3. My happiness, satisfaction, peace, and security depend on my hopes, dreams, and desires being fulfilled my way.

James 3:13–18 says if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, this isn't the wisdom from the Lord. It calls such jealousy "earthly, unspiritual, and demonic." And where "jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice."

In my life, this looks like:

  • bitterness toward friends who have things I don't
  • doubt and distrust toward God
  • anger, discontent, and frustration over my own life and circumstances

Jealousy is a surprisingly easy and readily available trap. Like an x-ray exposes fractured bones, jealousy exposes weak faith and sinful discontentment. Proverbs 14:30 says,

"A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot."

If this verse convicts you down to your rotting, jealous bones, take heart. It isn't too late for the Spirit to perform a bone-marrow transplant, carefully cutting away jealousy and self-righteousness (selfish ambition), healing them with the cleansing blood of the gospel that says, "You aren't righteous; you don't deserve forgiveness, but despite your sin, God gives you both in Christ."

Here are three Gospel Truths to stop jealousy in its tracks:

  1. I need nothing other than what I've already been given in Christ.
    "His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises" (2 Pet. 1:3–4).
  2. God does love me.
    "By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us" (1 John 3:16).
  3. My happiness, satisfaction, peace, security, and obedience directly depend on whether or not I place my hope in Christ.
    "In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory" (Eph. 1:11–12).

Ultimately, the Holy Spirit gives me the wisdom and strength I need to flee the enemy's grip of jealousy and selfish ambition. Instead of obsessing over what I don't have, I'm called to stand in awe of what I do have: the forgiveness of God through the sacrifice of Christ.

Meditating on God's grace through Christ will facilitate thanksgiving. And when jealousy gives way to the Spirit, it's rotting fruit is replaced by what James calls a harvest of righteousness: the "wisdom from above" that is pure, peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial, and sincere (James 3:13–18).

If jealousy is a familiar foe, don't grow comfortable and complacent. Instead, settle in for the long haul, prepared to fight the good fight, and ask the Holy Spirit to assist you daily in decomposing jealousy and growing in Gospel gratitude.

How will you uproot jealousy in your life this week?

If you enjoyed this post, you may want to read "How Well Do You Know the Green-Eyed Monster?"


Topics: When Life's Hard


  1. This is very timely for me, as discontent has come in despite a "good" life. The false assumption that "My happiness, satisfaction, peace, and security depend on my hopes, dreams, and desires being fulfilled my way" is all to applicable. I wonder, when will it all be good enough? Deanu right? It is sufficient. Thank you for this challenge and reminder...that the Holy Spirit can begin to remove these jealous and distrusting emotions that cause such destruction in our lives.
    posted by Marie
    on Thursday, April 24, 2014 at 9:26 am
  2. This was so perfectly written and I love how you addressed it. Thank you. I bookmarked it for future reference when I need the reminder. Or need to help some one struggling!
    posted by Mrsahoutz
    on Thursday, April 24, 2014 at 10:07 am
  3. This was a very good and timely article. I had been thinking about this topic. For me I can be jealous over things, but I tend to have trouble when I am comparing what others are DOING. I am a server and a doer. So while I may not be as discontent with looking at others stuff, I sure can be thinking... Oh I should be doing that, or I should be vegan like her, or I should be doing that in homeschooling, or I am not doing things like her so I should change.

    It is hard to do and be what is right on the road in front of me. I am not called to do what others are doing or have what others have. I am equipped and called and set on the road I am on. Its hard to keep that understanding and focus on Christ and what He has for me.

    Working on Gospel gratitude.
    posted by Emmy
    on Thursday, April 24, 2014 at 11:40 am
  4. Thank you for this reminder and the helpful steps to take to turn our thoughts in the right direction. I needed this right now. I've been struggling to take captive my thoughts of envying others' happiness. I don't envy others for little things like clothes, house, craftiness, etc. I envy other women, especially my friends, for their children. I see them happy with babies in their arms and it just makes me want to weep for the ones I lost and long for a baby to hold and keep. I have moments of grasping that hope in Christ and letting that be enough but I seem to always fall back down into despair again. I need to consciously look at and be thankful for the things I do have, especially the eternal things. I can't wait to get to heaven where I can finally hold my babies!
    posted by Beth Anne W.
    on Thursday, April 24, 2014 at 4:54 pm
  5. Yeah God gave something i had to someone else. But then i realized i didnt deseve it thus coveting made no sense. It ate me up bc i had failed and i compared my life to anothers and concluded theres is better. After all im suffering and they arent. But the truth is if God wanted me to have something He can give it to. Its obvious He doesnt and so im going to have to be happy with Him alone. Bc Hes all i got
    posted by pat
    on Thursday, April 24, 2014 at 5:14 pm
  6. Marie,

    What a great takeaway - Asking the Lord to remove those "emotions"! How often we give too much attention to our emotions instead of trusting and obeying the truth of God's word!
    posted by Lindsey Carlson
    on Thursday, April 24, 2014 at 5:40 pm
  7. MrsAHoutz, Glad the Lord is working!
    posted by Lindsey Carlson
    on Thursday, April 24, 2014 at 5:41 pm
  8. Emmy,

    I TOTALLY get that! I'm a doer too! I am very guilty of looking around at what everyone else is doing instead of resting in the work God created me to do! Praying Colossians 1:9-10 for you:

    "And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God."
    posted by Lindsey Carlson
    on Thursday, April 24, 2014 at 5:46 pm
  9. Oh, Beth Anne -

    Grieving for you, sister. The road you walk is hard. True grief and sinful jealousy are two different beasts! Pray the Lord would help you to discern what's actually sinful, and what's just your heart grieving real loss. I rejoice in your tender heart toward the things of the Lord and pray He would grant you all wisdom in the waiting!

    One of my friends has walked through miscarriage and has written beautifully and faithfully about God's grace in the journey. You kind find her reflections here:

    Also, the lovely ladies at ROH pointed me to a recent interview with Angie Smith that may also minister to you!
    posted by Lindsey Carlson
    on Thursday, April 24, 2014 at 5:55 pm
  10. Pat,

    Three things come to mind:

    1. Everything we have comes from the Lord. "The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof...(Psalm 24:1)"

    2. The Lord is good in both giving and taking away. "The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD (Job 1:21).”

    3. All we deserve, every one of us, is death. Praise the Lord salvation isn't earned by our works! "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23)."

    Isn't Jesus all any of us have?
    posted by Lindsey Carlson
    on Thursday, April 24, 2014 at 6:08 pm
  11. I loved this post! I wrote a blog post, Don't compare your life to other, just yesterday that pairs with this. I notice when I start comparing I feel such a heaviness of bitterness in my heart. Thank you for sharing!
    posted by Starla Jimenez
    on Wednesday, April 30, 2014 at 8:59 am
  12. Thank you for writing this. I'm married to a pastor whose small salary makes it necessary for me to work fulltime for now. I struggle sometimes with wishing I could quit my secular job, find a fulfilling ministry position, and be more active in the church alongside my husband. When I keep the right perspective, I see that I am his ministry partner, working and supporting him at this season of our lives. This post encouraged my heart so much.
    God bless!
    posted by Ruth
    on Wednesday, April 30, 2014 at 1:03 pm
  13. Thank you so much for your wise words. This is a beautiful message that I needed to here. The words were so encouraging.
    posted by Amanda Williams
    on Thursday, May 1, 2014 at 4:22 pm

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