The Problem with Jealousy + 8 Bible Verses To Help You Be Content and Not Covet

Monday, January 23, 2023

Why is jealousy bad? How is coveting poisonous to your soul? Learn the problem with jealousy and read 8 Bible verses to help you be content and not covet today.

For a while now I've been thinking about both jealousy and coveting. I've always struggled with both. In relationships, I would fear being replaced or left out if a friend met a new friend. Worry and fear would play out in jealousy. While coveting is a different animal, it can look and feel much the same - worry about being "behind" in life, and fear that I will never get the things I hope for.

This can be as shallow as coveting the amount of money someone else makes, and as deep as coveting the family they have while we seem unable to have kids. Coveting and jealously plague us in many ways, don't they?

One of the prevalent ways that I see jealousy and covetousness affecting the world today is through social media. We scroll, and scroll, and scroll. We look at the lives of others - their big family, their perfect-looking home, their exciting travel adventures - and we covet. We covet someone's possession of the things we want in our own lives and we are jealous of the things they've got going on in their lives.

What I've noticed though, is that no one likes to admit that they're coveting someone else's life. Instead, we say things like "Social media is a highlight reel. No one shows their real life. Everyone is so fake." 

But here's the thing: Maybe the problem isn't that they make their lives seem perfect, but rather that we have a real issue with coveting other people's lives. Maybe we are putting the "ideal" on a pedestal and constantly operating in a "the grass is always greener on the other side" mentality. Maybe we idolize the "perfect" situation, assume the worst of others, and make our desires our gods. Maybe our problem with social media isn't that "people are so fake", but that we have an issue in our own hearts.

Coveting and jealousy don't end there either.

What happens when we assume that everyone is fake on social media? We criticize them and assume the worst of them.

What happens when we idolize our desires and allow jealousy and covetousness to live in our hearts? We stop being thankful for the gifts that God has given us. We become discontent and seek to fill that discontentment with things and people and circumstances instead of God. 

Coveting and jealousy are never-ending monsters that keep our focus on the wrong things.

So what do we do to combat this monster? We believe the truths of scripture and remind ourselves of them.

8 Bible verses to help you be content and not covet.

8 Bible Verses To Help You Be Content and Not Covet

  1. "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change." - James 1:17

    What we have has been given to us by God. The good in our life has been lovingly gifted to us by our Father in Heaven.

  2. "Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand." - Proverbs 19:21

    The purposes of the Lord are always accomplished. Always. This is true of every part of our lives. Therefore, when we are jealous or covetous of a thing or situation that we do not have, we are saying that we think God got it wrong and that we actually should have the things that other people have.

  3. "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect." - Romans 12:2

    The world covets and seeks to take what belongs to others. The world lives in jealously and tries to scheme and figure out how to remedy that through their own means. Do not be like the world. Be transformed by the renewing of your mind and live for the kingdom of God, not your own gain.

  4. "You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor's." - Exodus 20:17

    Do not covet anything that isn't yours. Plain and simple. 

  5. "For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice." - James 3:16

    Jealousy creates a disordered life and convinces us to give ourselves over to a sinful life.

  6. "But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness." - 1 Timothy 6:6

    Do not get caught in the trap of constantly striving for earthly gain. Don't be ensnared by the desire for wealth. Be thankful for what you have. Live a godly life and be content with what you have. 

  7. "If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!" - Matthew 7:11

    God knows how to give good gifts to his children. Therefore, if there's something we do not have right now, we can surmise that God does not deem it good for us right now.

  8. "Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep." - Romans 12:15

    I think sometimes we only talk about the "weep with those who weep" part of this verse. However, we are also told to rejoice with those who rejoice. This includes being happy for our brothers and sisters when they have something we wish we had. Whether it be a friendship, a job, house, or whatever else we find ourselves coveting or jealous of, we should be glad for them instead of thinking how we wish we had what they have. 

I hope these verses encouraged you by reminding you of how God calls us to live in regards to what we have in our lives and how we should handle feelings like coveting and jealousy that go against his word. It's human nature to desire certain things, and a proper desire can spur us on to work hard, change bad habits, or be more consistent in our goals. But if we notice that our hearts are coveting what others have or are feeling jealous, we are called to repent and reorient our hearts. At the end of the day, we aren't called to have more money, have a nicer house, or even to have a family. We aren't called to be liked by everyone, have the most friends, or to look the best. We are called to love and serve God above all else. Whatever we need, God will place in our lives. Whatever we don't need (even if we want it), we trust God that there's a reason that he has chosen to withhold it from our lives: "For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly." (Psalm 84:11)

Stay Peculiar,

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