Mankinds Ten Worst Enemies: #3 Jealousy
Though closely akin and sometimes used synonymously, John Rawls distinguish between jealousy and envy on the ground that jealousy involves the wish to keep what one has, and envy the wish to get what one does not have.
Christine Harris, American Scientist Magazine, makes the claim that "Of the human emotions, jealousy is one of the most powerful and painful. And it is deadly: Statistical studies rank jealousy as the third most common motive for murder." Certainly, it was for Abel, Cain's brother.
If we meditate upon Cain to try and understand the reason for his digressing to murder, we come to realize that it is the same old tendency we have to look outside ourselves for the cause of our shortcomings. Abel's offering was accepted by God but Cain's was not. In his mind, Abel was accepted and he was rejected and thus, jealousy emerged in response to his distorted perception that he had lost his place with God. Of course, we know that God rejected his offering and not the person, but Cain concocted in his own mind, that God disowned him.
It is interesting to note that Cain did not make any inquiries regarding the reason for his offering being rejected. He did not make any offers to rectify the situation. He offers no apology and makes no excuses. Why, because he is not interested in the problem of his offering. He just flies into a jealous rage and kills Abel.
There are many Cains committing murderous crimes against their brothers and sisters today. Domestic violence continues to escalate because of disordered thinking. We blatantly refuse to face up to our own imperfections, our own weaknesses, our own failings and disabilities. And so, like Cain we substitute truth and self-admonition for falsehoods and other condemnation. We perceive ourselves as unacceptable. We lack the talent or gifts God did not give to us but did give to our brother or sister. We become jealous of the Abels. The Abels seem to be winners; things seem to work out for them, everything they touch turns to gold. The Abels are successful and bright. Success seems to come naturally to them and others gravitate towards them. They seem to be God's favorites and because of their acceptance, the Cains, succumbing to jealousy and envy, devise their psychological hit list. The Abels must go.
Jealousy in this context is the mental and emotional wrestling with the abilities of other people, the capabilities of other people; and the adoration, the affection given to those people from others. Those two nemeses hang out like bosom buddies side by side and when they put their ugly heads together, stir up the jealousy that builds into a kind of hatred that lead ultimately to murder.
It is incumbent upon all of us to acknowledge and accept the gifts God has given us. God has equipped us with everything we need to accomplish His will for our lives. If he did not give us certain talents, we do not need them to perform the job He has assigned to us. We need to stop looking at other people and what they can do and look at God and what we can do in His power.
Jealous can be a lethal passion. It magnifies trifles and increases doubt and suspicion. "Jealousy is cruel as the grave: the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame." Song of Solomon 8:6. The Psalmist asked, "Anger is cruel and fury overwhelming, but who can stand before jealousy?" Proverbs 27:4.
There is a fable that tells of a time when the Devil once was crossing the Libyan Desert and met a group of friends tempting a holy hermit. They tried seductions of the flesh, used doubts and fears and so forth, to no avail. The holy man was unmoved. The Devil then stepped forward: Your methods are too crude. Permit me one moment." Going to the hermit, he said, "Have you heard the news? Your brother has been made the Bishop of Alexandria." According to the fable, a scowl of malignant jealousy clouded the serene face of the holy man.
Never lose sight of the fact that, "You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world." 1 John 4:4. We pray that God strengthen us against the power of jealousy. Let us so love the Lord with all of our hearts, souls and minds that no unholy emotion subdues the Spirit within.
Rev. Saundra L. Washington, D.D., is an ordained clergywoman, veteran social worker, and Founder of AMEN Ministries. She is also the author of two coffee table books: Room Beneath the Snow: Poems that Preach and Negative Disturbances: Homilies that Teach which can be reviewed on her site. Her new book, Out of Deep Waters: My Grief Management Workbook, is expected to be available soon.
You are welcome to visit AMEN Ministries: Your Soul's Service Station for reviewing spiritual services being offered, obtain spiritual refreshing and soul edification, browse our newly expanded Stop & Shop Mini Mall or review our recommended books you may want to add to your personal library.
Blessings to all!
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