Jealousy can smother a relationship. When people are jealous, they become possessive. And possessiveness is like putting a bird in a cage – all sense of freedom and liberty is gone.
There is a proper side to jealousy. The Bible says that God is a jealous God. That means He wants us to be faithful to Him in our love. To be jealous for faithfulness is a proper jealousy. But most often jealousy rears its ugly head in the form of envy – not wanting someone else to have more than you have. And that kind of jealousy ruins love.
In 1 Corinthians 13:4, God describes spiritual love by saying, “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy” (the NAS says “love is not jealous.”) In other words, if you have the love that comes from God, you are not only patient and kind – you do not envy others for what they have that you do not have.
The word “envy” is the Greek word zēloi that means to be jealous. It actually comes from a word that means “to boil over.”
You see, jealousy or envy is an agitation of the spirit that makes a person boil over. For instance, I have seen men smother their wives in bondage because they were envious of the wife’s outgoing personality or special talent.
Sally was a gregarious person, but her husband was a recluse. So he kept her caged up like a bird and wouldn’t let her go out of the house alone – jealous of her ability to make friends and have fun. Then unexpectedly he died of a heart attack and Sally was free for the first time to come to church. She got involved in the ladies’ ministry and joined the choir. The cage door had been sprung open, and Sally was finally free to fly.
Sally’s husband didn’t love her. He was simply selfish in his envy of her. God’s love is not like that. True love appreciates others and wishes the best for them. It does not envy them.
Now you know the real meaning of the word. Say – God wants us to show others love and appreciation – not to envy them.