One of the greatest costs of jealousy – to ourselves, to those around us, to any environment we find ourselves in – is that it keeps us from fully celebrating other people. This cannot be overstated in terms of its impact on the culture of our relationships and interactions; how it influences the tone of our families, our workplaces and our faith communities.
Rom 12:15 says “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.”
I think we often find the mourning easier to do – we can empathise and sympathise and connect with others in their place of grief and loss. But something of the jealousy response in us prevents us from fully celebrating other people and their experiences of success or joy.
Think about it, if you hear someone say they love their job or they had a great ‘date night’ or that they’ve just been on holiday or seen a great show or had a ministry ‘win’ or enjoyed their day off or lost 5 kilos or they bought something on sale or they won an award or they baked a successful croquembouche!! …instead of saying “Yay, that’s awesome!” we can tend to respond from jealousy. “I wish I could do/have/experience that.” “If only I had your money/time/opportunity.” Or alternatively, we respond out of competitiveness “I’ve done that twice now!” or “I’ve seen/experienced better, worse, more, less (whichever makes me better than you)!”
Our internal response is “how does this affect me, how does this make me look or feel in comparison?” instead of “How can I celebrate YOU and what this means for you (rather than projecting my jealousy on you to make you aware that you’ve made me feel bad – or without trying to compete with you or out-do you)?”
Further to this, we can actually come to express jealousy as a WAY to celebrate each other. We say, “Oh man, I wish I could’ve done that, I’m so jealous” and it’s another way of saying “That’s awesome! That is in fact SO awesome that I would like that for myself!” And of course me wanting it for myself means that it is so much more desirable for you which means you feel all the better about it because not only did you do/get/have it but someone ELSE wants it! And unwittingly we move to a place (and then perpetuate a way of interacting) where the best measurement of your success in life is how jealous you make others feel! Weird, right?
What you’re experiencing should be good enough to stand alone – not just in contrast to what others are experiencing. If the sun is warm – it’s nice because it’s warm not just because others are cold. If you’re on holidays – it’s great that you’re relaxing and not working, not just because others are working while you are not. If you’re succeeding in business – it’s great because your hard work is paying off, not just because someone else might not be so successful.
You should be able to share a joy or a success and have us all join with you in celebrating you! That’s what Romans is saying – rejoice with those who rejoice. Just rejoice! Rejoice for them! Rejoice WITH them! Give yourself over to being excited for what God has done or provided without adding the “but what about me” factor – the comparison and competition.
For reflection (if you’re game) … when others succeed are you able to celebrate with them or does jealousy keep you from rejoicing with them? Do you find comfort or satisfaction in other people’s jealousy of you?