Sighing, I hung my legs over the deck. Children ran and laughed among the shrubs, and vibrant flowers nodded in the breeze. I looked down at my hands to shut out the beauty.
Abby had just taken me on a tour through her new home. I had laughed, smiled, and congratulated her as she showed me the kitchen adorned with hardwood cabinets and yards of counter space. I exclaimed over the fireplace in the sitting room and the hot tub in the deck that overlooked an oasis of fruit trees and flower beds.
Now that I was alone though, I let the darkness settle in my soul. Why can't this be mine? Why do I always get the short end of the stick? I grumbled to myself, while comparing the perfect surroundings to my own unfinished cabin surrounded by mud.
The words that God said to Cain jumped into my mind. “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen?” I shivered even though it was a comfortable day. The feelings of jealousy that I was harbouring were the same feelings that Cain had before he killed his brother.
Raising my face to the sun, I let its rays warm my skin. Forgive me, Lord. Help me to be happy for Abby.
That day was eight years ago, but God has answered that prayer and shown me how to be truly thankful when others are blessed. Here are some of the lessons I've learned:
Acknowledge that jealousy is a deadly sin. Our culture is so comfortable with covetousness that it is difficult for us to understand that jealousy is a sin. It wasn't until I saw my sin compared to Cain's that I got serious about overcoming it. If this is a problem for you, use a concordance to look up verses on jealousy, and ask God to open your eyes in this area.
Work with God. So many times I've tried to overcome my sin in my own strength and I always fail! In 2 Cor. 12:9 God said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” We work with God when we depend upon God for the strength to obey.
Choose thankfulness. Jealousy comes down to being dissatisfied with what we have and coveting what another has. Thankfulness, then, is the opposite of jealousy. God taught me to take my complaints and turn them into gratitude. When I grumbled about getting up several times a night with a new baby, God helped me to realize how blessed I was to be a mother. Complaining about a mountain of dishes can be turned into thankfulness for food and a family to share it with. Cultivate an attitude of thankfulness every day. The possibilities are endless.
Turn jealous thoughts into prayer. This is one way to take our thoughts captive (2 Cor. 10:5). When you think an angry or jealous thought about someone, take a moment to pray for that person. Praying for others can be a healing balm for the soul.
After all these years my house still isn't finished, but I know that God has a plan and part of his plan is teaching me to wait. When I visit Abby now, I can enjoy the lovely surroundings and be thankful for her friendship and, that after years of living simply and serving others, she is able to enjoy such a beautiful home.
I wish I could say that I no longer struggle with jealousy, but it's still an ongoing battle. The fight against sin is always worth it, though, and at times I am amazed at the joy and gratitude that now fills my heart. Jealousy may seem benign, but in reality—it is a cancer that eats the soul. Don't let jealousy steal your joy.
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