Why Not Me?
Jealousy is a powerful, overwhelming emotion; and we’ve been plagued with it from the beginning of time.
You see the girl you adore kiss another guy by the lockers. Your blood boils; you want to hit him right there. You watch the rich kid show off the spoils from another shopping spree, and you burn inside; everything you own suddenly seems ready for the thrift shop. Your parents admire your brother’s report card and praise him for being so smart. They turn to you and smile sympathetically. If looks could kill, your brother wouldn’t make it out of the room. Ever felt like any of these people? Ever been jealous?
Cain and Abel: A Case Study
Jealousy is a powerful, overwhelming emotion; and we’ve been plagued with it from the beginning of time. Genesis 4 tells the story about jealousy between the first siblings in the Bible, Cain and Abel. They were brothers who had different jobs. Cain tilled the ground and grew crops. Abel kept the flocks of sheep and cattle. One day they both brought gifts of their work to the Lord. God was pleased with Abel’s offering but had no regard for Cain’s; we don’t know the reason why. We do know, however, that Cain became jealous; and the Lord said to him in effect, “Why are you so mad? If you do what is right, you’ll be accepted. But if you don’t, be careful because sin is lurking right at your door. It desires to own you, but you must overcome it.”
God knew exactly how jealousy works. It threatens to possess us. If we aren’t careful, it will take over and lead us to do horrible things.
Cain didn’t heed the warning. He lured Abel into a field and savagely killed him; then he tried to deny his actions to God by saying that he wasn’t his brother’s keeper. Of course, God knew the truth. And when God punished Cain with a curse, Cain realized how his entire life had been changed by his envious rage.
Jealousy can do that. In a moment, it can seize us and lead us to kill relationships. Although we can’t stop the feeling of jealousy when it arises, we can control it; and the story of Cain and Abel gives us some clues about how to do this.
First of all, we need to name our jealousies: I am jealous because _______; and I recognize that sin is lurking at my door, but it can’t have me. Second, we need to deny jealousy its full expression by remembering that we are our brother’s keeper: I can’t obliterate you, although I would like to, because we’re connected. We each belong to God, and so we matter to each other. And third, we should hold fast to God’s words to Cain, “If you do right, you will be accepted.” I’m not going to give in to jealousy and make everything worse. I’m going to entrust myself to God, pray like crazy, and hang on till the wave of jealousy passes. God is faithful and will always see us through times of jealousy if we rely on God.
READ Psalm 37:1-8 and tell the Lord about your jealousies.
PRAY: Dear God, help me not to fret over others’ possessions and qualities but to be thankful for what I have. Help me to commit my way to your way and to trust in you. Amen.
—from devozine (May/June 2002). Copyright © 2002 by The Upper Room®. All rights reserved.