Jealousy Is "Severe as Sheol"

by James Rudy Gray

Jealousy Is "Severe as Sheol"

William Shakespeare called jealousy the "green-eyed monster." John Dryden referred to it as "jaundice of the soul." Song of Solomon 8:6 says, "Love is as strong as death, jealousy as severe as Sheol." Someone has noted that jealousy is an emotion that "shoots at others and wounds yourself."

Jealousy is a powerful emotion that has the potential to cause great destruction to ourselves and our relationships with others if it is not stopped. It has within it such qualities as anger, envy, passion, and rivalry. It indicates high or hot emotions. When it dominates a person's thinking that individual is controlled by it. Jealousy is like poison.

Specifically, jealousy is an apprehensive state of feeling displaced by someone (perceived as a rival). Doubt feeds it. Fear nourishes it. Zeal fuels it. It is a painful, threatening, or intimidating resentment or suspicion that grows out of distrust of another and lack of confidence in oneself.

Galatians 5:20 and 1 Corinthians 3:3 put it in the category of "deeds of the flesh," while Romans 13:13 counsels us not to behave in "strife and jealousy." John Phillips writes frankly on the subject: "There is no passion so strong, so unquenchable, so determined, and so vindictive as jealousy." Charles Spurgeon said that "Self-love, no doubt, is the usual foundation of human jealousy."

Feelings of jealousy have likely touched all of us. As adult Christians, are we still susceptible to feelings of jealousy? If we are, what can we do about those feelings when we have them?

Perhaps the best way to see jealousy is to view it as a sin of passion. Before the actual feelings of jealousy arise there are probably other things that have gone astray. Some of the most common settings in which jealousy thrives are sibling rivalries, peer relationships, romantic relationships, and professional relationships.

The paranoid personality is often filled with jealousy. The combination of a low self-esteem, distorted view of others, and weak self-awareness creates within a person an all-or-nothing, win-or-lose outlook. A condition called "morbid jealousy" is often blamed for murders of passion. In fact, morbid jealousy accounted for 12 percent of the "insane" murderers incarcerated in Broadmoor in England, according to a study.

What can be done about jealousy? A person can feel an emotion without acting on it. When feelings of jealousy begin to appear, there is a four-step formula that can provide help:

Face it-do not try to rationalize it or encourage it.

Admit it-do not try to deny it.

Confess it-do not try to suppress or repress it. It is sin and must be dealt with in God's prescribed way (1 John 1:9).

Forsake it-don't hold onto the hurt or the sense of rivalry. The longer jealousy is held onto, the stronger it will grow.

Christians are called to love God and love our neighbor. That is the sum total or essence of the law. First Corinthians 13:4 reminds us that "love is not jealous." Jealousy is an intruder and must be dealt with. Love is our calling for life and must be maintained.