Is Jealousy a Sin in the Bible?

Is Jealousy a Sin in the Bible?
Written by Christopher Turk

Nothing compares to the gnawing sensation of jealousy. Although it is extremely powerful, it can also be cunning, sneaking up on us until we are overwhelmed by the ideas and feelings it causes. Many of us have felt the rage and anguish of jealousy at some point or another. We’ve all experienced it, but what is jealousy really like?

Although it can have a bad effect on us and those around us, is being jealous really a sin? The complicated response is that it might be because, surprisingly, the Bible makes reference to a different type of jealousy. It derives from a very different motivation and produces a much better outcome.

Understanding the two types of jealousy and how they differ is crucial to determining whether or not it is sinful. Thankfully, Scripture provides us with concrete instances of each to study.

What Does the Bible Say About Jealousy?

Scriptures discuss both the righteous jealousy of God and the sinful jealousy of humans. The authors of the Bible frequently compared God’s version to the feelings of love and longing that couples experience for one another to describe it.

It can be overwhelming to consider that the all-powerful God feels this strongly about us. Accepting this gift and worshiping Him is the finest way for us to respond.

When God’s jealousy was mentioned in the books of the Old Testament, it was occasionally accompanied by a warning to His people not to disobey Him (Joshua 24:19).

His promise of restoration for those who turn back to Him and repent is repeated in several chapters namely, Joel 2:12,18.

On the other hand, the New Testament contains multiple letters written by the apostle Paul that discuss the nature of human jealousy. Human jealousy generates pain and separation rather than being a power tempered by love that is designed to bring peace.

Paul believed that one of a group of attitudes that result from allowing ourselves to become more preoccupied with earthly things than with God is jealousy.

He also understood that it is a trick the devil employs to pervert believers’ perceptions and break up their togetherness. And he always described it as sinful conduct (Romans 13:13-14, 2 Corinthians 12:20-21, Galatians 5:19-21)

How Do I Handle Jealousy When It Starts to Infiltrate My Life?

Unrighteous jealousy can arouse feelings that are simple to justify and challenging to overcome. Still, there is a solution. Even though it’s unsettling, figuring out when and why it occurs can help lessen it.

Negative jealousy begins with comparison. Comparing always puts us in second place, whether it be with regard to someone else’s home, job, or personality. By doing so, we become oblivious to the blessings we have been given and fall prey to the delusion that God doesn’t give as much attention to us as He does to others.

It is important for us to develop the ability to spot it earlier and resist it. We might have to take these steps over and over again, and they can be challenging.

  • Being fast to catch the thought and being honest about it can help you to identify jealousy for what it is.
  • Recognize your feelings of jealousy and accept responsibility for them without placing blame on anyone.
  •  Turn to God in prayer and instead of hiding jealousy,  bring it to His attention.
  •  Beg God to cleanse your heart and win your struggle while you pray for pardon and assistance in overcoming your jealousy.
  • Let go of the enmity and shift your attention to being more grateful and pleased with what God has given you.
  •  Ask God to use the person or circumstance that caused the jealousy by praying for it and asking Him to do so.

Bottom Line

If being jealous causes us to rebel against God and grieve Him, then it is sin. We frequently allow jealousy to motivate and shape our thoughts and actions because of our human frailties. 

Thus, this frequently leads to our saying and doing things that are against what the Lord has commanded us to do. Therefore, when we wander, we are inviting sin into our lives, whether we are cultivating envy toward another person or causing God to be envious of us.

About the author

Christopher Turk

Christopher is the lead elder/pastor of the local Christian church in Penticton, British Columbia. He has a dedication to serving his Lord's church and a pulpit competence that honors the legacy of his predecessor. Christopher is a passionate visionary for the Lord and His Kingdom! His church ministry background spans over 30 years of full-time service.

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