• Heidi J. Smith

Jealousy: Lesson from Rachel

Photo credit to Sean Roy from Unsplash

Have you ever desired something that someone else has?

Maybe you long for a child, spouse, or good friend. If you could have this, then your life would be complete. Or you want health and happiness, but you are plagued with a disease or other aliment. Maybe you yearn for your friend's position, possessions, or picture-perfect life. You wonder why everything is so easy for him/her and why you have to struggle.

In my life I struggle with jealousy. I secretly long for others' seemingly problem-free lives and wonder why God gives my family so many trials. Why doesn't God bless us?

I doubt His sovereignty and wrestle with believing that God knows best.

In the Bible Rachel struggled with jealousy, too. Even though Jacob loved Rachel, she envied Leah's and her children. Maybe it went something like this...

(Genesis 29-30)

Jacob married two sisters, but he loved Rachel more. Ordinary Leah bore children, but beautiful Rachel was barren.

"When Rachel saw that she was not bearing Jacob any children, she became jealous of her sister. So she said to Jacob, “Give me children, or I’ll die!" Genesis 30:1 NIV

Rachel blamed Jacob and made him angry with her. Rachel resented Leah and competed with her. Her jealousy created chaos and bitterness in her life. She feared not being good enough and doubted God's sovereignty.

"Why isn't God giving me children? This isn't fair! Why is Leah blessed with so many babies and I can't even have one?" Rachel pouted.

Rachel's jealousy caused a mess in her life, and our jealousy causes a mess in our lives.

"But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice." James 3:14-16 NIV

Jealousy springs from our selfish hearts and spreads disorder. It doubts God's best for our lives and desires what others have. Jealousy listens to SELF and even rots our bones (Galatians 5:19-20; Proverbs 14:30).

How do we handle jealousy?

1. Accept God's sovereignty. God allowed Rachel to conceive at His right timing. We need to trust that God is in control and knows best.

2. Acknowledge our blessings. God created Rachel beautifully and gave her a husband that loved her. He eventually gave her two sons. We need to focus on what God has given us and stop comparing ourselves with others.

3. Acknowledge others' blessings. Rachel missed an opportunity to love her sister, nephews, and niece. We need to be thankful for what others' have and rejoice with them.

4. A Pure Heart. Rachel desired being a mother more than God. We need to desire God more than anything else, and He will give us our heart desires (Prov. 4:23; Psalm 37:4-5).

We handle jealousy by trusting God's will, being content with what we have, being thankful for what others have, and having a pure heart.

God eventually gave Rachel two sons, but she died giving birth to the second son. Her jealousy consumed her and cost her her life.

"Then God remembered Rachel; he listened to her and enabled her to conceive. She became pregnant and gave birth to a son and said, “God has taken away my disgrace.” She named him Joseph, and said, “May the Lord add to me another son.” Genesis 30:22-24 NIV

"And as she was having great difficulty in childbirth, the midwife said to her, “Don’t despair, for you have another son.” As she breathed her last—for she was dying—she named her son Ben-Oni. But his father named him Benjamin. " Genesis 35:17-18 NIV

Lord, please remove the jealousy from my heart and replace it will contentment. Help me to trust You in every area of my life and believe that You know best. Help my desires match Yours.

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Heidi J. Smith