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Understanding Jealousy

Updated on September 29, 2012


Relationships are very important in any human development. In our desire to rise in building our lives, families, and destinies, establishing lasting relationships is one of the important ways to grow up.

However, there are grave consequences, when we allow some attitudes to develop in us during such relationship. One of such is jealousy.

Jealousy occurs, and in fact tries to infiltrate every human relationship. There is no human relationship that can not be threatened by the possibility of jealousy. Hence we need to learn how to overcome jealousy in our lives.

What is jealousy?

According to the Webster’s Dictionary (third Edition), jealousy is being resentfully suspicious of a rivals influence.

Resentful suspicion means showing displeasure and hurt or indignation at some act towards a person whom you suspect has “injured” or “offended” you. It is a suspicion and not a reality. Jealousy is a feeling of resentment that another has gained something that you may rightfully deserve.

Every human being is susceptible to jealousy. Jealousy no matter the form it takes is unhealthy both in the life of the jealous and for any human relationships.

Forms of jealousy

There are two major forms of jealousy:

1) Jealousy directed toward a “rival”. A rival is someone we suspect is in competition with us. Note that sometimes rivalry develops purely based on our wrong understanding of competition which leads to comparism. This kind of jealousy is the most common among all forms of relationship and is deadly. Eg. Joseph and his brothers, Saul and David, and Cain and Abel. In any of these examples, jealousy as a result of the rivalry ended up destroying the relationship. This kind of jealousy is a spirit. (Numbers 5:44-30).

2) Protective Jealousy

This is the kind that develops in strong relations. E.g. in family life. It is protective because it fights to maintain the relationship. A husband will not sit unconcerned for another man to seduce or gain the attention of the wife.

In strong relationship that must be preserved at all cost this kind of jealousy develops to protect it.

‘ For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to

one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.’

Paul was jealous over the Corinthians when they seemed to be drawn away from the truth. God has this kind of jealousy – Exo 34:14, 20:5 such jealousies seek to protect the relationship. However, when jealousy occurs in man, no matter the form, it becomes a spirit if not checked. This then results in evil action. E.g. murder of spouse etc. only God has absolute control over this form of jealousy. We should control protective jealousy when it develops in our heart to protect our relationship.

Causes of Jealousy

Every one has the tendency to feel jealous about many things around us especially in our relationship with people who seem to be making it more than we are doing. However, what makes jealousy take root in a man’s heart are certain unresolved issues within us. They are the root causes of all jealousy.

Jealousy stems out of

a) Insecurity – is when you base your security on the opinion, affirmation and acceptance of other people. When we feel rejected or unloved, we become dangerously insecure, leading us to perceive the strengths of other people as threats to our own well being e.g. Saul against David.

b) Fear – is another instigation of jealousy. Controlling fear will not help you maintain a relationship without being jealous. Fear of loosing your place, position and favours, which you enjoy, breeds jealousy towards those you think want to take your place. You cannot rejoice with their successes. E.g. Saul saw David’s success as a threat because he feared David was taking his place in the hearts of the people.

c) Deceptions – play a cultivating role in the development of jealousy. Most of what cause jealousy are based on suspicion. What you may perceive as a threat are mostly not the reality or do not exist. Your perception of life is distorted due to lies you believe about others and yourself.

Joseph’s brothers were deceived to think that he was claiming superiority over them by his dreams. They could not interpret the benefit of the dream to the whole family.

d) Covetousness – is a deep desire to obtain the possessions of another person. This leads to aggressive jealousy. When you are not satisfied with your own life and your achievements, you fall into covetousness, which makes you jealous of other people’s things and achievements.

Instead of coveting after what God has favoured others with, pursue after what God has for you.



In Songs of Solomon 8:6, Bible says jealousy is cruel as the grave. The grave keeps anything kept in it and denies it the ability to express its potential. Jealousy no matter the form, if not overcome will paralyze the abilities of the one who is jealous. Jealousy never allows a man to be what God has ordained him to be.


If jealousy is allowed to continue, it develops into a spirit that will strain any good relationship with others and mar your relationship with God. In James 3:13-26 (Amplified version) a person walking in jealousy is equated to an unwise person. The presence of jealousy will ultimately bring in unrest, disharmony and rebellion (a form of witchcraft)


Jealousy affects your body since it takes more work to be resentful towards a person than to show love. Jealousy will make a man do every thing to destroy another man’s destiny and finally affect negatively his/her own destiny. Cain was physically never sound after killing Abel.

Biblical Ways of Overcoming Jealousy

In dealing with this canker in your heart, one must go to the root causes. Dealing with the root causes of insecurity, fear, deception and covetousness provides some answers to jealousy

1) Rely on the unfailing love and acceptance of God for you. Train your self to be secure only in God. Your strengths are God gifts for you. You are complete. Trust the Lord to bless you without comparing yourself to others. Whatever God has called you for trust Him to accomplish in you. (1 Thes.5:24)

2) Learn to rejoice with others for what they have or have achieved. Wish them well. John the Baptist said Christ must increase and he must decrease (Jn.3:30)

3) Pray for those you perceive as threats to your life for which reason jealousy is breeding in you.

4) Focus on your own assignment. Every body has what they are called to do. Jealousy denies you the ability to live your God assigned purpose.

5) Guard yourself against what you hear and see of others. Your interpretation of the success and achievements of others is very important to a life free of jealousy.

6) Your perception of yourself is important. See yourself as unique. Don’t compare yourself with others. There is no competition in life. No man can receive anything except it be given him from above. (John3:27)

7) Pray out jealousy from your heart. Accept your problem of jealousy and ask the Holy Spirit to help you overcome it. Your acceptance of your problem of jealousy is crucial to overcoming it.


Jealousy is one of the strongest weapons the devil ignites in people to destroy relationships and the life of the one who walks in it. Christians must do every thing to overcome jealousy so we can rejoice with them that rejoice, as commanded by scriptures. Allowing jealousy to fill your heart drains all the energy you need to concentrate on your assignment. No one fulfills his destiny when jealousy has taken over his life.


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    • dashingscorpio profile image

      dashingscorpio 5 years ago

      fitzjkenny, On the other hand anyone who has been cheated on is likely not to be quite as trusting as they were. Some forms of insecurity are born out of having a history of bad relationship experiences. It can take quite a while for someone to trust (them self) to choose a person who is trustworthy. The one who has been hurt in the past oftentimes wonders if their current mate truly loves them as much as they love him or her. It's much easier to give your whole heart and fall in love the first time than it is to do so a second, third, or fourth time.

    • profile image

      fitzjkenny 5 years ago

      Thanks dashingscorpio.

      This then amounts to insecurity and low self esteem.

      If you have a high esteem of your self which is not an exageration but real, you don't feel insecure and thereby become jealous and suspicious of your partner.

    • dashingscorpio profile image

      dashingscorpio 5 years ago

      I think the source of jealousy in relationships comes from a (fear) that the person you are "madly in love with" does NOT feel the same way about you!

      This leads you to watch them closely, note what they say and do not say to you, how they behave with others compared to how they behave with you. Some people are never happy unless their partner only laughs and smiles with them. (The bottom line is if you are with someone you don't trust then you are with the wrong person.)

      If on the other hand you are jealous in (every) relationship you have been in this may mean you have not dealt effectively with a past hurt and may need to get some help. This type of jealousy means you don't trust (yourself) enough to (select a mate) who loves and only wants to be with you. Deep down you don't believe anyone could want only you. Therefore this would mean you also have low self-esteem issues.