Conquering the Green-eyed Monster

Chic Broersma

Read: Proverbs 14:26-30

A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot. (v. 30)

In Dante’s Inferno, the eyelids of the envious are sewn shut. No more gazing at good fortunes of others. Envy caused the first murder. If only envy had ended with Cain. The wise teacher of Ecclesiastes says, “And I saw that all toil and all achievement spring from one person’s envy of another. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind” (Eccl. 4:4 NIV). Similarly, James writes, “For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice” (James 3:16).

A partial cure of envy is fairness or justice. Small children who are angry with their siblings cry out, “It isn’t fair!” The idea of fairness comes earlier to them than the recognition of envy. The poor, the helpless, the uneducated, and the unloved also cry out, “It isn’t fair!” and if fairness means anything, they’re right. After all, this seemingly innate sense of justice comes from God.

Also, Scripture teaches that when we are jealous, there’s a problem with our faith. It usually means we have stopped believing Jesus’ promise that he alone is able to satisfy us: “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst” (John 6:35). Did you hear him? When I’m jealous of another person, the problem lies in my faltering faith. Trust Jesus’ promise that he will fully satisfy you. —Chic Broersma

Prayer: Lord of creation, let me find my satisfaction in you alone.