The surprise must have registered on my face as I opened the front door to the unexpected visitor. Miri* stood there, small and demure, nervous and unsure.
It was a cool day and we had not lit the fire inside the house, but it was warm on the front veranda in the sunshine. I invited her to sit on the cushioned lounges while offering her something to drink. She declined, then I knew her visit had a distinct purpose.
Taking a deep breath Miri started to speak. She told me how she had been jealous of me and judged me over the years. Silent and listening, I felt it wiser to let her talk. Asking questions might have brought up issues that were better left buried.
Miri, without any rancour, told me about her childhood. How she grew up under a jealous and judgemental spirited mother. She had only recently realised how much this had affected her own responses to me and others. I was quite amazed to hear this had been brought on through the conviction of the Holy Spirit as she read my autobiography.
Having experienced the bitter results of obsessive, all consuming jealousy in my own past life, I felt for her. Nevertheless, I have always found it more beneficial to be honest in these situations. Conscious of the temptation to feel self-righteous, I silently prayed to release the compassion I had in my heart for her.
It is not necessary to bring up our own experiences. It is enough to allow the love of God to flow freely towards the other person. I told her gently that I had been aware of her feelings towards me. However difficult it was, I still had chosen to try to keep a heart of forgiveness towards her.
Miri, by coming to me, even in trepidation, and confessing her weakness, opened the door for a fresh freedom about our lives and relationship. The result? We prayed together. Miri visibly relieved, began to relax. We then spoke of more general topics before we parted with peace between us.
One of the strongest emotions we try to hide is jealousy. Once entertained, like all bad habits, the negative emotion begins a downward spiral.
Sometimes it isn’t an obvious reason. Sometimes it is because someone has something we don’t have. It could be a relationship, an ability, a position or even a spiritual gift. This makes it easier to justify judging that person. Then the green light of envy takes over. Now we have an excuse to raid the biscuit tin of jealousy to the max without anyone even suspecting.
Sometimes we use our position in the home, work or church to satiate our souls with this insidious habit. Harbouring jealousy behind opinions that can be made to sound so right. Then we begin to gather others to our thinking and pollute them as well. Jealousy then becomes well hidden behind skirts and pants of judgement. A green eyed monster is born.
The imagination fuelled by judgement’s voice leads to suspicion and becomes dangerous. Eventually the person targeted has a reputation for something they know nothing about. Then their situation becomes precarious. Still we justify our opinions. The person’s integrity becomes based on our assumption or judgement. Finally we become so deceived we believe it to be true.
The green eyed monster of jealousy is rooted in pride, vanity and selfishness. It is such a strong force, it needs deep repentance, and ministry of the word of God to break its power.
James wrote, “But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice’ (3:14-16).
So what is the antidote? (3:17-18) “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.”’
The spirit of jealousy lurks behind all our minds, looking and waiting for a way in. Exercising self-control over our thoughts will go a long way to cut its influence before it takes root.
Old bad habits can be replaced with good new ones. Once jealousy raises its ugly head, nip it in the bud. Immediately replace it with an intentioned good thought about that person or the object of your temptation. It may take some time but like all bad habits, they can be mastered with the help of Holy Spirit strength. Allow him to be the transformer, not ourselves. Then the change will be lasting and the temptation to give in to jealousy will fade. “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (2 Cor. 3:18).
For when we are born into this world we inherit our nature from our parents. As with inheriting our sin nature from our first parents, Adam and Eve. Once we receive Jesus and become born again, we receive a new nature. As a new creation, we are transformed through the power of the Holy Spirit. As the Holy Spirit works with our spirit (Rom. 8:26) we are able to change.
Jealousy, a toxic, sick emotion of the soul can be healed, like any sickness. Reading in James again, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective” (5:16). This needs to be understood of sins committed against one another. When possible, once these are acknowledged, declared and repented as in the case above, mutual forgiveness and reconciliation follows.
*Name changed to protect identity.
By Rusty A Lang
Rusty A Lang is the author pseudonym for Marlene A Morphew. Schooled in brokenness, Marlene has served the Christian church internationally over 40 years. Her passion is for people to be released into the Kingdom of God, living a natural supernatural life for Jesus Christ. Living in Australia she can be followed on Facebook and through a regular blog on rustyalang.com. Her autobiography, Good Things Take Time: Metamorphosis of a Damaged Soul may be ordered directly from her website in Australia or Amazon and Barnes and Noble elsewhere.