Wisdom from Above
13 Are any of you wise or sensible? Then show it by living right and by being humble and wise in everything you do. 14But if your heart is full of bitter jealousy and selfishness, don't brag or lie to cover up the truth. 15This kind of wisdom doesn't come from above. It is earthly and selfish and comes from the devil himself. 16Whenever people are jealous or selfish, they cause trouble and do all sorts of cruel things. 17But the wisdom that comes from above leads us to be pure, friendly, gentle, sensible, kind, helpful, genuine, and sincere. 18When peacemakers plant seeds of peace, they will harvest justice.
We don’t pay enough attention to jealousy.
It is a trait or tendency that can sneak up on us. We couch it with all sorts of terms like, “I aspire to be like him or her.” But underneath can lie an insidious spirit that brings out the worst in us.
Of course there is a very proper jealousy in love which says, “I belong to you, and you belong to me.” For example, I always wanted my wife Brenda to be secure in knowing that I not only loved her, but that I didn’t love anyone else in the same way. So I was jealous to have time with her. Before her death I teasingly competed with my sons for her time and we laughed about it heartily while recognizing this as a healthy priority.
Unhealthy jealousy is to be discontented with who we are – who God created us to be. Jealous people posture. By that I mean that we pose as being different from who we are. Often this is modeling ourselves after someone else. When posturing, there is often name-dropping, boasting, or stretching truths to enhance the image of ourselves we are trying to project.
James points out that this behaviour simply does not originate from, or please, God. In the spiritual realm, the evil one uses jealousy like a seed that grows into bitterness often without our recognizing it. It can start out harmlessly, but in no time can morph into an evil and, James says, a poisonous influence in our lives.
Over years of mentoring I have met hundreds who are ensnared by the effects of jealousy. Leaders who long to be like successful person ‘so and so’. Or a woman may have endured the jealous behaviour of her siblings or parent, who are envious of her success, marriage, or appearance.
Jesus, Forgive me when I am not content with how you created me. I turn over to you my jealous feelings. Jealousy quickly turns to contempt and I know that I may have already hurt others through my behaviour. Bring those people to mind and help me heal the relationship.