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Beating Jealousy

by Katrina Cassel

Tips for victory over the green-eyed monster

“I lost my best friend because of jealousy,” Dawn said. “We were best friends from the fourth grade until last fall. We were both on the swim team for four years, and we decided to try out for the high school team together. Shari made it, but I didn’t. I expected her to quit and stay on the Y team with me, but she didn’t. She set a school record for freestyle in her first meet.

“I was so jealous that I stopped talking to her. She kept calling me for a while but finally gave up. I’m ashamed to admit that I started saying really bad things about her to other girls—things she had told me in private. It was so stupid for me to get upset. I let it ruin a friendship.”

Jealousy destroys!

Many of us could tell a similar story. Jealousy can ruin you, your friendships, your goals, and just about anything else that it touches.

Do you remember what happened between David and King Saul? First, David was a welcomed guest at the palace. He would play the harp and sing for King Saul. But when people began to praise the youth more than the king, Saul tried to kill David.

Jonathan, the king’s oldest son and heir to the throne, reacted differently. When he found out that God had chosen David to be king instead of him, he recognized and accepted God’s plan and remained David’s good and supportive friend.

What causes jealousy?

Many times jealousy stems from insecurity and a feeling of worthlessness. It makes you forget your own good qualities and buries you in self-doubt.

Once you’re a teen, you’re in a totally different world than when you were a child. You’re competing for popularity, top grades, the best-looking date, and the most-valuable-player awards. The pressure to get ahead can be threatening and unsettling to your self-esteem.

Mark is an example of this. “I was running for junior class president and lost. I felt worthless. I thought that people must not like me. Otherwise, they would’ve voted for me. I didn’t feel I had anything going for me.”

Pam felt the same way about cheerleading. “Three of us tried out for cheerleading together. My two friends made it, but I didn’t. I felt fat and ugly and useless. Then one of my other friends got a new car, and I was still riding my bike to school like a baby. I felt like the lowest person in the world.”

Dawn, Mark, and Pam were basing their self-worth on someone else’s accomplish-ments and consequently had negative feelings about themselves. This can build up to a desire to get even or destroy what the other person has gained, like when Dawn said negative things about Shari to other girls.

Destroying others or feeling bad about yourself won’t solve the problem.
Your value as a person has nothing to do with anyone else’s accomplishments. It comes from being first created, then redeemed, by God. No one else is any better or worse than you. God created everyone equal, although He gave them different abilities and talents.

The Bible instructs us to think of others ahead of ourselves. Philippians 2:1-5 says: “If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love,  if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus” (NIV).* These verses encourage us to desire the best for others.

Watch out when you want to be number one!

You may want to be chosen for the play or to make the cheerleading squad, but be willing to be happy if others make it and you don’t. Their success isn’t a barometer of your self-worth.

Accept that others may be more talented than you are in certain areas. There will always be someone who can sing better, play the piano better, or run faster. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t work on developing your talents, though.
Take a look at your talents and abilities. What can you do? Maybe you don’t have any outstanding talents, but you’re friendly and can help new students, or you’re good at math and can tutor someone who’s failing. No matter how great or small your abilities seem to you, you can use them and improve them.

Remember that God doesn’t look at how successful you are in a worldly sense. He looks at how faithfully you live for Him and serve others. “Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong,” observes
1 Corinthians 1:26, 27 (NIV).

It’s hard to congratulate the one who got the part you wanted, or to say “Good job” to your friend who got into the choir when you didn’t. But remember that their success doesn’t make you more or less valuable. God has a plan in mind that’s best for your life (see Jeremiah 29:11).

Accept the good things that happen to others, as well as the good things that happen to you, and you can win the victory over jealousy!

*Texts credited to NIV are from the Holy Bible, New International Version. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984, International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.

Katrina Cassel, M.Ed., lives with her husband, five of their children, and an assortment of pets in the Florida panhandle. Katrina is the author of five books.


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