When asked “Where do you get your ideas?” I respond with “From personal reading and study, clients, and conversations with friends and family.” At this point, I left my computer to answer the door for a friend who brought me a belated birthday gift, a small spiral note book—Scripture Talk, (Augsburg College) with open ended questions ‘an opportunity to begin conversations’ based on various NT and OT scriptures with my friend’s caption, ‘Ruth, thought this might give you some blog ideas. Love, J.
Germination for this week’s blog began a couple weeks ago when brother John called. “Hi Ruthie, Mac and I came across a verse in Proverbs 27:4 that we thought might interest you for a future blog”.
Anger is cruel and wrath overwhelming, but who can stand before jealousy? Isn’t it interesting that wrath and anger occur and then leave while jealousy remains?” My curiosity immediately aroused, I began research on an ornery but common behavior-pitfall common to all—jealousy and envy.
Envy means discontented longing for someone else's advantages. Jealousy means unpleasant suspicion, or apprehension of ‘rivalship’. Both words are fairly old, having been in regular use in English since the 13th century, and both words hold various shades of meaning with each one having a definitive true sense. These two behaviors are considered by many as being the same but they are barely synonymous.
The origin of ‘Green with envy’ seems to come from one being so shocked or overcome with disbelief, jealousy or disappointment that all color drains from their face leaving a pale green complexion. Both words appear in William Shakespeare’s Othello,” Beware, my lord, of jealousy; it is the green-eyed monster of envy which doth mock the meat it feeds on.”
In modern English the words are used almost interchangeably, so much so that when people read both of them in the same vice list, they mean the same. To be jealous of someone is to be envious of them. Envy and jealousy are different behaviors, and the difference actually matters a great deal. The difference is stated simply. Jealousy is the desire to keep for yourself what rightfully belongs to you. Envy is the desire to have for yourself what rightfully belongs to another. Although jealousy and envy are twins that feed off each other, jealousy is considered crueler than envy. Let’s dig deeper.
Jealousy is a feeling of resentment, bitterness, or hostility toward someone who has something that you lack relating to general success, an achievement, a trait, a social advantage, a material possession, or a relationship, among other things. What matters is that the other person has the thing, you want it, and this makes you resentful of them. Jealousy is used as a noun, adjective or adverb, but not an action verb.
Envy is a negative feeling of desire centered on someone who has something that you want. Envy can also be a verb meaning to feel this way toward someone. Both the noun and the verb imply that you want to be in the other person’s position—to have what they have. Like jealousy, envy can be centered on any number of things, tangible or intangible. Envy can also be described as a mix of admiration or discontent, used as part of a compliment “You’ve worked so hard to achieve your success—I really envy you.” Although jealousy and envy are used interdependently, jealousy is more negative often leading to trouble, while envy, though emotionally debilitating, usually doesn’t imply a desire to hurt.
Two blog friends e-mailed their definitions: To me jealousy is looking at something someone else has and wanting it for yourself. It is continually looking at and thinking others are better, happier, etc. because of what they have and wanting that for yourself. G
Life does put us into situations where 'patience with purpose' opposes 'evil envy'! As many stories have been told, folks often get a reality check to be more thankful for their circumstances and problems, not desiring to trade them in for something or someone else's. B
Two-or three-year-olds merely grab what they desire and mimic others, but four-and five-year-olds pocket what they want or hide it and adopt others’ behavior. No one had to teach us how to envy, be jealous or imitate others. Negative inclinations deserve immediate, kind and positive teaching addressing the misdeed or action rather than the character of the child identifying the envious-jealous feelings with tenderness and turning the focus on the welfare of the other person. Respecting others’ possessions and positions is a bitter but necessary lesson for children and adults alike.
An example of a 12-year-old jealousy/envy: “I could be found with two of the prettiest girls there, who kept me around mostly because I was funny and a good listener. One had perfect hair and the other wore fashionable clothes and I envied both.”
If left unchecked, envy and jealousy become dominant and invasive emotions. Our responsibility? --identify and acknowledge any personal jealousy and envy and develop the necessary discipline for quelling both. The first step is to recognize and be thankful for our possessions and opportunities to use our natural or trained abilities. Endeavor to offer praise and appreciation for others’ positions and contributions.
The following experience of a friend of mine pinpoints the devastating struggle that envy and jealousy can inflict on friendships. “My best friend who also lives across the street imitates me in every way, including how I fix my hair, how I speak, what I cook, bake, the car I drive, what I read, flowers that I plant or where I shop. She also wants my friends to be her friends. Another complication is that our husbands jointly own a business, so I have to be doubly careful about what I say and my behavior. I often feel like a ‘sneak’ in order to have a personal life.” P
‘Just be proud that she wants to be like you,” her sister sermonized. “This is an opportunity to help her learn how to decorate, cook and take care of a yard”, another advised.
Neither of those admonitions worked for her. She knew that she would be losing her former best friend and business associate, but that was the only solution she and her husband could find. It was definitely a problem that required spiritual attention with guidance from the Lord, scripture and personal prayer. She didn’t want to hurt her friend, but she couldn’t tolerate her friend’s piggy-backing or being a copy-cat.
Envy and jealousy share a similar root of feelings of inadequacy and insecurity. We are likely to feel envious because we find dissatisfaction within ourselves. When abilities, qualities, skills, and self-image are questioned, envy takes over. Jealousy is afraid someone’s going to take something away from us. Fear drives both. Both come naturally and remain with us until we gain mature self-discipline to acknowledge what isn’t healthy or wise.
The Apostle Paul wrote: Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ. I. Cor. 11:1 (NKJV).
A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones. Prov. 14:30 NIV
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy… I Cor. 13:4. (NIV).
Father, thank you for loving us and helping us to refine our attitudes for your glory.