Jealousy. Sometimes it is referred to as the green-eyed monster. Why a green-eyed monster? The origins of being ‘green with envy’ or a ‘green-eyed monster’ are thought to be related to the yellowish/greenish tinge the skin takes on with illness. The first use of the phrase ‘green-eyed monster’ is credited to Shakespeare and the play, The Merchant of Venice and then later it was used in Othello. Apparently, Shakespeare liked the phrase and imagery.
The word envy is often interchanged with the word jealousy; envy meaning a feeling of discontentment. There are subtle differences, however. Jealousy is most often related to feelings of insecurity people experience when perceiving a threat to a relationship due to the attention of another. Envy is more closely associated with lack, as in we are lacking something another has and we want.
The Bible uses both terms. The Ten Commandments warn about not coveting the possessions of our neighbors, in other words, don’t entertain envy because they have something we don’t. Biblically speaking, jealousy may be good or bad, depending upon how it is used. Applying the negative connotation, jealousy is a feeling of apprehension or fear of being replaced by another whereas in the positive sense the Bible speaks of God as being a jealous God, or being zealous for His people. In this sense, the connotation is the expectation of complete devotion. The other thing about jealousy is it always involves some kind of betrayal or the feeling of betrayal by another; envy does not.
Envy and jealousy are closely tied to ingratitude and fear. The root of envying the possessions of others, their houses, cars, jobs, bank accounts is dissatisfaction with what we already have. Ingratitude because of dissatisfaction with what we have limits God, the Universe, Divine Love, whatever we choose to call Source Energy, from further blessing us. Jealousy emanates from deep-seated insecurities regarding the loyalty of others, fearing betrayal, perceived or real.
Can we want nicer things without envying what others have? Yes, it is all a matter of the heart. Gratitude for what we have been given, contentment with what we already have, not looking over our shoulders longing for the possessions of another. When we want bigger, better, the latest, and hottest items on the market we work toward that end without being in competition with others. We can appreciate what others have that we do not, we can be happy for them, without feeling deprived. This subtle shift in heart attitude removes the roadblock to God’s blessings in our lives.
As for jealousy, there is a bit of heart work to do in this case, too. Insecurities about our value and worth to another and fears of betrayal will continue to interfere with our relationships until we deal with the root of our insecurities. What do we fear? Not measuring up, not being ‘enough’ whatever ‘enough’ is? Fears that if people knew the real ‘us’ they wouldn’t want to be in relationship with us? Sometimes relationships turned out badly in the past, perhaps we experienced betrayal and we fear every relationship in the future will turn out the same. We need to deal with our fears.
A bit of soul-searching may be in order. How much does your desire for ‘things’ have to with wanting what others have? What are some fears and insecurities that may be driving jealousy in your life? The answers may surprise you…..