How to Handle Anger, Part 2- Jealousy
Sometimes, anger has its roots in envy. When we focus on the abilities, possessions, or position of others, we can easily become resentful. Let's look at how to handle envious feelings so that they don't turn into hostility.
A. A Biblical Example: King Saul
Saul's jealousy of David began almost immediately after David killed Goliath. Read 1 Samuel 18:5-16.
- What first bothered Saul regarding David's victory (vv. 6-9)?
- What wrong conclusion about his kingdom did Saul draw concerning the younger man's triumph (v. 8)?
- What was the real reason that Saul would lose his kingdom (1 Sam. 15:1-3; 13-26)?
Scripture says that Saul was troubled by an evil spirit (v. 10). In order to find relief from the torment, the king commissioned David to play the harp (1 Sam. 16:14-23).
- How did Saul try to kill David (vv. 10-11)?
- When the king failed, what did he decide to do (v. 13)?
When we become angry with others, we sometimes try to punish them by holding a grudge. However, because David had the Lord's favor, he was "prospering in all his ways," despite the fact that the king––who held the highest position in the country––hated him (v. 14). Nothing could stop God's blessing on David.
- What lesson can you learn from this, with regard to harboring anger or trying to hinder the success of someone you envy?
- When those in authority either overlook or expressly dislike you, how can this principle bring encouragement?
B. Handling Jealousy Correctly
This emotion, sometimes called "covetousness" in Scripture, is so harmful that the Lord forbade it in the Ten Commandments (Ex. 20:17). Here are a few practical steps we can take to avoid its temptation.
1. Seek the Lord for all good things.
God––not our ability, appearance, or connection to the right people––gives us favor and places us in positions of influence (1 Sam. 2:6-8).
When you begin to feel jealous of another person, turn your emotions into a prayer. Ask the Lord to bless your abilities, friendships, ministry, and finances—and to give you contentment with what you have.
- James tells us that every good and perfect gift is from the Lord. How does he describe God in this passage (James 1:17)?
- Why does Psalm 34 tell us to "taste and see that the Lord is good" (vv. 8-10)?
Note: Verse 10 is not a promise that Christians will have everything they want. Instead, David is making a general statement that when we seek the Lord, He supplies our most basic needs (Matt. 6:21-34).
2. Make a commitment not to compare yourself to others.
Western culture encourages competition and ambition. It's easy to find that we're measuring ourselves against what we see in others. Unfortunately, discontentment and even anger often result.
- What did Paul give as a reason for not comparing ourselves with others (2 Cor. 10:12)?
As believers, we can sometimes feel inferior within the church because of our position and talents—or lack thereof.
- What analogy does Paul use to demonstrate that all members of the church are equally important to its functioning (1 Cor. 12:12-26)?
- First Corinthians 12 teaches that we should be content with the spiritual gifts God has given us. What responsibility or ministry do you believe the Father has planned for you?
- What does selfish ambition introduce into the church, according to James 3:13-16?
If you are in the right position, serving the Lord will be a joy. Enjoy where He has placed you, and seek to develop your gifts and talents—in that way, you can keep jealous feelings at bay.
3. Praise and thank the Lord for His blessings to you.
When we choose to meditate on what God has done for us, encouragement and contentment usually follow.
- What should characterize our thoughts, according to Philippians 4:8?
- Make a brief list of things that you are grateful for in your life.
4. Look for ways that you can bless others.
Jealousy is self-seeking. An envious person looks at what others have and wants it for himself. One way to break the power of jealousy is by deliberately seeking to bless others—either the person whom you envy or someone in need.
- In Romans 12:9-21, the apostle Paul describes some practical ways that believers should treat others. Jot down three of his instructions that speak to you, and briefly explain why.
5. Pray for the person you envy.
We are called to pray for fellow believers (Eph. 6:18). A jealous individual focuses on one or two areas of someone else's life that are going remarkably well. But everyone still has needs, hurts, and wants. Think about what the other person may be battling, and base your prayers on those needs.
- When you don't know what to ask, try looking for prayers in Scripture. One example is Philippians 1:9-11. Consider praying this right now for someone you envy.
Closing: Seek to rejoice in the gifts, talents, and blessings God has given you. Trust Him to shower you with good things in His timing. And determine to serve others instead of focusing on what you lack. Then jealousy—and the anger that can result from it—will not maintain a grip on your life.
Prayer: Father, forgive me for looking at how You have blessed others and wishing that I was the one with that blessing instead. Please give me a selfless heart that rejoices when others prosper. Guard my heart from envy, and help me trust You to supply all the good things I need. Amen.