All my life I have struggled with jealousy. Right now I am jealous of someone who (in my view) is articulate, eloquent, has poise as a natural leader, is appreciated, is applauded, is listened to with respect, and indeed all over is respected. He seems to have it so easy, too (even though I know he does not). I find that many times it is those involved in the charismatic movement or some other established circle of Christian community who are like this, and about whom I struggle with jealousy. I can think of a C.U. leader way back in the late 1960s, a flat-mate in the early 1970s, some church leaders in the 1980s and other Christians in the 1990s, and this guy today.
Tonight I was hurting (again) over something that he did to me a couple of weeks ago. Then I prayed "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us", and knowing that what this guy had done recently to me was merely a trespass. It was a small thing, such as I do to others, and only a 'trespass' against me and my space. I could forgive that. I often find it helpful to see what others do against me as mere 'trespass'; it makes it easier to forgive.
But tonight, I was hurting again about it. I found I still had the same negative attitude towards this guy. I tried "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us" again, and though I could forgive (again!) what he did against me a couple of weeks ago, I realised that there was something more than forgiving a trespass here: I was against the person himself. At first I thought the root problem was that his world view and mine were simply diametrically opposed. His world view is one that denigrates all secular activity especially politics and scholarship, in both of which I am deeply involved, and elevates religious activity, whereas mine is one that tries to bring all created spheres under the Lordship of Christ. I have the comfort of being 'right' (!), but that did not help.
Next, I thought of something else that I often find useful: Paul somewhere makes it plain we should not judge another man's servant; by his own master he succeeds or falls. When I think of that, I can often accept the other person as they are despite their difference from me. I tried this again tonight: This guy is not my servant but is the servant of Christ. If Christ wants him to be like that, then (even though I think his world view is totally wrong and damaging) he should be like that. "Fine," I thought.
But, even that was of no avail. I felt that somehow this was not the nub of the issue. It was then that I realised that at root I am jealous of him. He is, as I said above, articulate, eloquent, confident, respected, listened to, full of poise, able to give messages that people value, and so on. All the things I am not and never have been, and would like to be. (Though recently I have been finding people have begun to listen to me, that fact was little comfort tonight, and did not seem to matter much.) It is jealousy that turns me against him, and makes it so difficult to accept him as he is, so difficult to allow him to hold a different world view, so difficult to forgive his trespasses against me.
It was then that I realised that this same jealousy has been in my heart all my life, way back to the late 1960s, and many times since.
Jealousy is a deadly virus, an infection, a cancer. It eats away at my soul, hurting nobody by myself, and all the time making me want to hurt and destroy that other guy, and to pull him down. But I cannot get rid of it. I cannot just 'pull myself together'. I cannot exercise self-control. I cannot purge myself of it. It is deep in my heart.
Oh Lord God! How can I be free of this jealousy. I do not want it. I hate it. I know I am forgiven it because Christ died to redeem me, but I want to be free of it. I want to be pure. I want to be able to accept those of whom I am jealous with genuine acceptance and love. Lord, please free me of it. For Christ's sake, not just my own, since he it is who has purchased me and made me his own. I want to present him with a beautiful inheritance, not one whose roots are all withered with jealousy.
Andrew Basden, 19 October 2005
P.S. 29 May 2016: I realise that the Lord God has answered that prayer. In fact, I realised it some months ago. Not only am I not jealous of the guy mentioned, but I seem to have less jealousy of others. Thank you, Heavenly Father!
This page, URL= 'http://www.abxn.org/nv/jealousy.html', is offered to God as on-going work in developing a 'New View' in theology that is appropriate to the days that are coming upon us. Comments, queries welcome.
Copyright (c) Andrew Basden to latest date below, but you may use this material subject to certain conditions.
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Created: 19 October 2005. Last updated: 5 January 2009 .end, .nav. 29 May 2016 small grammar correction; postscript; rid counter, new .nav, .end.