What’s the difference between jealousy and envy?
Jealousy – stems from a desire to protect and save guard something, for fear of destruction or losing it. Not necessarily a bad thing. Exodus 34:14 ‘for you shall worship no other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God’ – Not for God’s own sake, he doesn’t actually need anything from us. But he’s jealous in that he’s protective of us, and he knows it’s for our own betterment that we worship him alone. So too there can be occasions where jealousy is the appropriate response.
Eg. I vividly recall at a talk, Padre asked a group of women how we would respond if we were out, and we noticed a woman was overtly trying to flirt with our husband. My clenched fist immediately hit the palm of my other hand. Back off lady! Now, punching the woman would not be the appropriate response, but as a spouse it would be my goal to help my spouse get to heaven, and anything that tried to steer him away from that is a threat to that goal, and it’s my role to safeguard him wherever possible from that, in an appropriate manner.
Note: a jealous person can become ‘possessive’ which can turn into the detriment of the other, but this is not the jealousy that God speaks of.
Envy – is a discontent over the lack of something we don’t have, that someone else has, and can turn into resentment. There’s an ill will upon the other, a desire to have whatever they possess even at the detriment of the other.
Perhaps the most common scenario is when your friend becomes friends with someone else. Left unchecked this can go from initial feelings of ‘competitiveness’ for attention or time or energy and turn into possessiveness. Jealousy, in the correct sense, would be if your friend was actually being negatively influenced by this other friend, say they were becoming less virtuous as a result, more risk behaviours, or getting into habits that aren’t good for them. The jealousy we might at times feel to keep them close to us, might actually be from a place of protectiveness. This would be an entirely good thing!
BUT, if there is no tangible reason to be afraid of losing them check in your motivation!
Are you insecure in your own friendship? And in yourself? Do you fear your friend might walk out on you and what that means for you?
- Someone who is secure in themselves, and in their relationship with God, will be free to let their friends come into their lives, and leave (not necessarily without any thought) but without feeling they have lost something integral to who they are. Our identity should never be caught up in a friendship with a person on this earth. This person, who is secure in their relationship with God, will not fear a friend leaving, because they know they will always have the ultimate friend, Jesus Christ.
- Are you envious? Honestly? It’s not a nice thing to ask, it’s confronting to think we might occasionally want something for ourselves even if it hurts the person we care about. That’s really unpleasant. But that’s what sin does, it’s unpleasant choices that hurt the people we care about. Is it possible you’re longing for something or someone, and are willing and wanting it at the cost of even the good of your friend that you care about?
- Again, someone secure in their relationship with God, and grateful for the blessings he gives, is content in that and has no ‘need’ for other things, because we are satisfied in Christ. Our thirst is quenched by him.
- If this is us, ask ourselves what need do i think i have that is being unmet? And how can I reach out to God and be open to God meeting this need? Because we know, Only God can fulfil our every need, no other human on this earth can.
Jealousy in friendships of the opposite sex – worth noting to check your intentions in. If the new person in your friend’s life, including a significant other /boyfriend/girlfriend, isn’t a red flag, and you continue to feel a sense of protectiveness or possessiveness, ask yourself what is your relationship with that person? Are you simply being a protective sibling OR is there an unchecked motivation here? Is there a romantic attraction that you haven’t acknowledged? Or that you didn’t notice until now?
Trying to suppress it, or deny it, will not help. In fact it will make it worse! Think of the ginger ale bottle. You’ll need to work out what to do with it. Whatever action you choose to take, whether being open about that or not, and when you do that is a plan to map out and consider, but LONG before that, we need to acknowledge the presence of that, and make a choice on whether we want to accept and act on that attraction or not. Only after that, can we choose what course of action we take.
I severely dislike the saying ‘you don’t choose who you fall for’. You may not choose the people you’re attracted to, we come across people everyday and some we find attractive for different reasons, and others we don’t. We’ve said before that attraction isn’t always romantic, it is simply being drawn to someone because of an aspect of who they are and how they live. We have role models because we’re attracted to something about their life, that doesn’t necessarily mean we’re crushing on them.
But the saying ‘you don’t choose who you fall for’ is almost used as a permission slip to pursue romance with whoever you fall for because, hey, you can’t help it. That’s not true. You may not be able to choose who you become romantically attracted to, but you do CHoose what you do with that attraction. You can choose to act on it, or to acknowledge it and choose a different response, and the boundaries you may need so as not to nurture that attraction into something that isn’t appropriate.
Being aware of the ‘Wanting what I can’t have’ – the possessiveness factor
Don’t ever buy into the lie that your default human setting is ‘passion governed’ and it cannot be ordered. Because that’s exactly the lie Sin wants to feed us. That we’re just slaves, robots even to some inbuilt mechanism that is almost like a predetermined fate. This is false. Love tells us, we’re free to choose. By ordering our thoughts, passions, motivations, desires, and actions we actually get to choose what we think, how we want to feel, and what we do. Free Royal Children, who are spiritually mature and command their present and future. Given the choice between a slave mindset and a freedom mindset, I know which one I’d choose.
SB – Von Balthasar’s Marian narrative linked with the narrative of her Son.
SC – recollection evening – Emily from Virtue Ministry spoke to the women.
Aiden Nichols No Bloodless Myth: A Guide through Balthasar’s Dramatics