In the book of Proverbs, there’s a verse in chapter 27 where jealousy is contrasted against wrath and anger, and it’s a real eye-opener that I want to highlight here. Here’s the verse:
Wrath is cruel and anger a torrent,
But who is able to stand before jealousy?
Proverbs 27:4 (NKJV)
The words describing wrath and anger stuck out to me. For wrath and anger, the words used are cruel and torrent. This conveys a harsh, quick, and violent expression of emotions and actions which bring destruction. Yet, when it gets to jealousy, a question is asked. The writer asks us, “Who is able to stand before jealousy?” The contrast is that while wrath and anger are expressed quickly and outwardly, jealousy is something that is hidden and simmers for a longer period.
Jealousy comes from pride, insecurity, greed and lust. While wrath and anger can be uncontrollable and leave you vulnerable, jealousy is used secretively to attack others for a longer period. It can cause fractures in friendships, bring others along with you to antagonize the one you’re jealous of, and even lead to murder. When you look at the relationship Saul had with David, or the interactions that the Pharisees had with Jesus, we see how much jealousy can infiltrate into our lives.
It is so easy to live a life of envious jealousy, that out of ten commandments that the Lord wrote on the tablets, this one goes directly to our thoughts. The thoughts that we have about other people and their possessions can bring us to such a destructive place, yet it’s so easy to operate in this way, to the point where we don’t even realize we’re operating in envy.
You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.
Exodus 20:17 (NIV)
Is there anything in your heart that causes you to envy or be jealous towards others? While an angry man is like a city without walls as Proverbs 25:28 says, a man of jealousy is like one who runs towards the cities of others to spy and destroy them. If there is any jealousy that has gripped you, I hope and pray that you confess it to the Lord. Walk free in Him, knowing that you will have everything you need, without the need to be envious of others.