No one ever looks in the mirror and says, “I’m a jealous person,” because it implies other people are better than us or that we’re weak somehow, and we’re always trying to protect our egos.
Because it’s so hidden: jealousy is one of the most destructive problems of all. I’m so good at pretending I’m not jealous that I can disguise my hate as “criticism” and “observation” and “keeping it real.” Certainly criticism doesn’t always come from jealousy, but you can tell when it does.
I can attack someone’s weaknesses and presume a whole bunch of other weaknesses by clever extrapolation all while highlighting my strengths, and this makes me nothing more than a jealous petty little hater.
During testimony-time at church when everyone is confessing all kinds of drug addictions and sexual deviance, I’ve never heard a single person say, “I’ve destroyed others with my envy.” No one ever says, “I’m straight up drunk from haterade.”
When you see someone better than you — and we all do — there are two ways to respond.
1) Find ways to downgrade their human value, then rationalize your own contempt as justified criticism.
2) Celebrate their achievements and generously promote their growth while learning from them in humility.
When you know a younger person who has potential —
Jealousy has a way of cutting in and holding back the next generation. Instead of seeing a future leader, you see a competitive threat who is messing up your mojo.
I’ve seen even the best of leaders clench their teeth as they raise up young disciples, ever-so-slightly keeping the youth at a lower level and withholding advice and downplaying all their success. What is that? What makes us do this? Why can’t we just hand over the baton?
A leader’s job is to work yourself out of a job. And you’re a leader somewhere, either passing on your life or hoarding it for yourself.
You have more wisdom and ability than you think you do. When you talk about your passion, you’ll say things you didn’t even know you knew. You have so much to give.
So it makes no sense to keep this all to yourself. We so often hold onto our positions of authority with a ridiculous nuclear death-grip. But without passing it on, it all dies with you.
I know letting go of jealousy feels like we’re losing something. It feels like we’re handing over years of sweat and hard work to a kid who doesn’t have to pay for the lesson.
But — someone in your life did the same for you. Someone learned through a horrible mistake for ten years and passed it on to you in ten minutes. Every generation before you has accumulated valuable truth for you to be equipped, prepared, and successful. And even if you never had this sort of mentor: you’ve always wanted one.
When it comes to our friends and peers —
Our default mode is always to be envious. The only way to fight that is to celebrate what others have accomplished instead of reveling in how they’ve failed.
People can tell by your speech when you have devalued another human being. They can see by your face when you’re bitter at people who are “further along.” You find it harder to be compassionate, and you go for cynicism and grossly inappropriate speculation.
Yet if you can truly lift up someone above yourself, you’ll be free of the prison of jealousy. You will extract the roots of bitterness and anger. And it takes two seconds.
You’ll soon become the kind of person that others want to hang out with, including yourself — and you won’t be the hater who argues with angry counter-points by reblogging blogs and getting as serious as a stick in the butt. Even you don’t like that guy.
Deeper than all this is the root of jealousy. What are you really saying when you fall into a comparison trap?
“God, you owe me more than this. A better universe, existence, opportunities, experiences, life, people, family — even a better car would do.”
It’s not enough to just raise up other people then. It’s a fundamental root issue with God: because you’re really saying, “He’s not enough. He doesn’t satisfy. He doesn’t see me. He doesn’t know what He’s doing.”
Honestly, I’m tired of doing this. I’m tired of shaking my fist at God when I see someone more attractive than me. I’m tired of trying to be the guy with the better story all the time. I’m exhausted of thinking I know better than God, because I don’t, and the more I think I do, the more I run myself into the ground.
The Gospel tells me that I deserved nothing but God gave me everything. Jesus could’ve stayed in Heaven in paradise: but he became poor so that we might be rich. He was crucified so we could live with him forever.
That revokes all my fist-shaking, foolish temper tantrums. Then I’m just a bug trying to flag down a helicopter. In my moronic selfishness, I forget that God is gloriously powerful and that it’s all His story, and not mine. I forget He’s actually been pretty good to me, too.
The clay does get to say a few things to the potter, but I’m thankful that I even have a potter at all, and that He cares, and that everything good is from Him, and anything else is not for me to worry about, because God’s on it.
It’s that icky word surrender, which doesn’t go over in our culture very well. But the second you do that, your teeth unclench. Your fists lower. Your heart stops pounding and you quit getting all twitchy every time someone does something slightly better. We no longer hurt ourselves by our comparison games.
Instead, you surrender to the God who made you you, and you accept who you are. You quit trying to have the best of all worlds. We quit trying to be perfect. We quit trying to be God. It turns out: I can get myself out of the way and celebrate others. It turns out: God really is God, and He’s gifted me with all grace to let go of my petty weapons and build this next generation for His glorious story.
You and I — let’s lay down our arms and fight this good fight together.