“You’re Just Jealous”

23 Aug

Proverbs 27:4, “Wrath is cruel and anger is outrageous, but who is able to stand before envy?”

Jude 22, “And of some have compassion, making a difference.”

I have had various friends and relatives in my life who have had a stock statement whenever conflict erupted between people they knew.  “Oh, they’re just jealous of you,” they would say, as though that explained everything there ever was to know about human nature.

Sounds like an easy way to sum things up but  . . . are things always that easy?

I think not.  As I have heard the working definitions given, jealousy is wanting to have the same thing as someone else has.  If she has a Keurig, I want a Keurig.  If she has a Kitchen Aid stand mixer, I want the same make and model.

Envy is a worse emotion than jealousy because that word means that I want to have something belonging to someone else by taking it away from her altogether.  It’s not enough that we both have a pretty black dress for Christmas or other formal occasions.  Envy would desire that she would rip hers, so I alone would have the pleasure of a lovely dress!

There are certainly cases of pure jealousy and pure envy in this world.  And both of those emotions must produce some of the most disabling situations known to man inside the person carrying them!  In general, it seems as though the only thing necessary to do when dealing with a case of pure envy is to damage control the untrue things that are being said about others.  The envious person himself is going to self-destruct under the weight of those emotions.  It is only a matter of time.

You can try counsel, as Matthew 18 says, to try to show that person his sin, but chances are you won’t be heard.  The self-destruction just has to happen so that the person can either wake up and live aright or else . . . not. 

However, I believe that most cases that could be summed up as jealousy or envy are not that simple to classify.  Especially within the church, people are not so black and white. 

Sometimes the person who seems to be envious simply has no paradigm with which to process the actions of another person.  He might seem envious because he just doesn’t understand how another person is wired.  We are all different, after all.  Not better, not worse, just different.

This seems to happen a lot with people who are very joyful and free in the Lord.  People can react to that.  And their reactions are not always supportive.  Their reactions can look like envy.

A person may have found great freedom in the Lord from salvation onward.  Or he may have found great freedom at the end of a huge struggle against sin and negativity.  In either case, he needs to be supported and encouraged, like any other brother in Christ.  But people sometimes seem to take a particular delight in trying to burst the balloon of the joyous person.  Why is that?

I think we all realize that there is a wide open place of freedom that some very blessed servants of the Lord inhabit but  . . . not everyone is there.  And those who are not very often just can’t understand that someone else has found that freedom.

Sometimes people can’t even comprehend that so much freedom can exist, even in the Lord.  They don’t have a mental hook on which to hang the concept.

For these folks, there would be a natural reaction of skepticism when they see someone act with great joy and freedom in the Lord.  It is natural for them to accuse such a person of being a great fake.  After all, if they were to act like that, they would be faking it so much that they would deserve an Academy award for the performance.  They simply can’t believe it comes naturally to a minority of Christians who truly are joyful and free in their relationship to Jesus.     

The skeptics are probably the same people who never lay their heads on the pillow and sleep a full night’s comfortable sleep.  Either they have insomnia or they are haunted by nightmares.  And God, who is the God of insomnia and the God of nightmares, too, could help them.  But they need to ask Him! 

It is so much easier for them to question the existence of people who truly sleep free of worries and nightmares.

For these skeptics we must reserve compassion, our very greatest compassion.  They may come at us with verbal swords bared when they don’t understand how we walk in grace, but we must not reciprocate.  We must show them that God’s grace really, truly works.  We must, as Jude says, show the compassion that makes a difference. 

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