Have you ever watched somebody else do well at something, and found it difficult to celebrate their success? Sometimes our own niggling doubts can get in the way of a right relationship with others, and with God. Today’s post is for those times. How can we combat those ugly feelings of jealousy? How can we cultivate a right and proper sense of self-worth?
I’m grateful to Nadia for turning to the Bible for us today and pointing us instead to the value that God places on each of us. Here’s to celebrating each other freely and generously, knowing we have a God who loves us. Lx
Jealousy is never something someone actively wants to feel. It causes us to be unhappy and unsettled with both ourselves, and the person we are jealous of; never something that makes us feel at peace with ourselves, but something so many of us struggle with. This ability that we have to think negative thoughts about others, and desire things for ourselves at the cost of other friends is not something that pleases God.
Whether it’s a friend who always scores higher than you in tests or always gets picked for the team, we sometimes find it so much easier to put people down for our benefit or envy their talents, rather than building them up. Sometimes we get so used to being jealous that we don’t even notice it anymore, even trying to disguise and justify it.
But jealousy and insecurity are destructive and there is quite simply nothing good that can come from these feelings. Resentful thoughts, ungenerous thoughts, unkind thoughts, begrudging thoughts have NO root in goodness, peace, or love. The Bible is so clear that this is not what God intended for us to be like. In James 3:15 it says that ‘jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom’ and Proverbs 14:30 says that ‘a tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot’, meaning that those feelings don’t come from God, nor do they bring us peace or wisdom.
Sadly we live in a society that projects a distorted image of success, which results in a lot of insecurity as well. People strive for an identity based on whom they know, what they wear, what grades they get when ultimately these things do not matter, and will pass away, and should not form who we are.
We so desperately fear being nothing, when actually in God’s eyes we are already something so precious and valuable.
We don’t need to feel confident to be confident, or to feel secure to be secure. Particularly as a generation of girls we need to recognise that our worth and value is not in what we do, but in Christ. Girls often find it so easy to speak negatively about their own appearance and abilities, and I truly believe that this breaks God’s heart. He has invested so much in us through His Son Jesus, demonstrating how eager He is for us to know that we are truly loved and known by Him. Amazingly, through his very death and resurrection we have inherited total security, which means our identity is not something we have to earn or acquire from others, but is a part of our inheritance.
Knowing that our identity is in Christ actually requires us to completely let go of all jealousy and insecurity, and realise that what God has given us is valuable and important in its own unique way.
So getting back to the basics about ourselves – who are we? God’s love is all-sufficient, and we know that he loves us unconditionally, passionately, committedly, and unreservedly. Yet this doesn’t stop us from feeling jealous or insecure from time to time. How are we meant to form an identity based on humility, gentleness when the world is telling us a completely different idea of what image and success look like?
Something I’ve found that helps with those feelings when they may arise is Chapter 3 from James. This chapter is all about how we use our tongue and speech to build up others, or bring them down, ultimately showing us that our words are powerful. Just like a ‘small rudder makes a huge ship turn wherever the pilot chooses to go’ (James 3:2), our words can change things and be influential.
So instead of using these words to drown out others, I try to use them to glorify God instead, because ultimately this brings a far greater satisfaction and peace than jealousy will ever bring. Whenever I feel tempted to say something bad, I remember how this could affect someone else, and have a bigger impact than I might expect. I encourage actively choosing to avoid negativity and where you can, choosing to emphasise positivity. A positive word is better than a negative word.
Then what we say glorifies God, all because the same words used to praise God should be used to praise others. Getting into little habits like these is all part of deepening your walk with God, growing in your love for Him and in turn, others.
In terms of security, I figured that it’s simple: our identity is in Christ. I encourage you to stop speaking negative things about yourself or about others, and instead choose to glorify God with all He has given you, without comparing it to others.
Our security is not in what we own or what we can do,
but in who we are to God.
Understanding that we are precious in God’s eyes helps us to have a strong and right level of self-esteem, making it easier to extend grace towards someone else’s success or possessions. Once we know that ultimately our citizenship is in heaven, we are free to be the girls we were created to be, with no fear or worry about being anyone else – permitting us to live fearless lives.
Nadia is a first year Theology student at Durham University, and her sparkling intelligence & super sporting skills more than make up for her forgetting to write her own bio… Nadia has one of the kindest and most open hearts I know, and her joyful love for Jesus affects everybody she meets.