The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering, he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast. Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at the door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” –Genesis 4:4b-7
I had a very honest and refreshing conversation with a friend who was embarrassed to admit that he thought he was struggling with jealousy. He wasn’t sure if it was full-blown jealousy or if it was just a fleeting emotion. His “unsure” feelings were directed toward a coworker who was getting a lot more attention from the boss. He felt like he was continually struggling for time with the boss and rarely got it, while the coworker got time with the boss repeatedly.
Unfortunately, I’ve had some personal experience with this emotion and gave him my “how-to-tell” indicator. I don’t mean to oversimplify it, but I told him that when a friend or coworker succeeds and you can’t bring yourself to celebrate, it’s a sign that you’re dealing with jealousy.
In today’s Scripture we read about Cain, who was jealous that God had accepted his brother Abel’s sacrifice, but not his own. Cain, who did not celebrate Abel’s success, quickly grew bitter, attacking Abel and killing him. Not exactly a fairy-tale ending, right?
When jealousy resides in your soul, it slowly hardens your heart and will eventually produce a negative impact in your life. But, when celebration becomes a habit, jealousy doesn’t grow and conquer your soul. In this way, you keep from creating rivals of innocent people. You are saying, “I’m not going to allow jealousy to have free reign in my life.”
I encouraged my friend to get in the habit of celebrating his coworker’s success. I challenged him to start working on it, even if he didn’t feel like it. Feeling often follows action. “I don’t think you can wait until you feel like it to celebrate others,” I told him, “You’ve got to celebrate until you feel it.”
Got jealousy? Try celebrating. Keep celebrating. Don’t compare what you know about your own situation to what you only think you know about the other person’s. Remember that God doesn’t compare you to others. He loves you just the way you are! Knowing this is another great reason to celebrate!
1. What makes jealousy such a common emotion in peoples’ lives? If the effects of jealousy have a negative impact, why do you feel it is such a common emotion?
2. In your life, with whom do you struggle most with feelings of jealousy? What are some ways you can celebrate this person?
Proverbs 27:4; Romans 13:13-14; Galatians 5:19-26