The Boys' Growing Up in the Lord

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Question

Dear Mr. Hamilton,

I'm always jealous in different aspects. What can I do? Envy is hitting me hard.

I hope it's not considered lust if I say that I think some of my friends are very handsome. Some people think the same about me too, but in my point of view, they seem more handsome than me and that makes me jealous first of all. I hope it doesn't make me gay envying other guys' bodies.

Secondly, it's not just the looks. It's also the achievements, recognition, etc. Also, another factor is rivalry. I'm great friends with someone whom people refer to as my "twin" because we're so alike in so many ways, including looks, voice and personality. However, I mentally have some competition with him because we're on the "same level." He's not aware of it, but I always felt like that. If someone smarter than me got to the honor roll, I wouldn't be jealous, but if someone on my level gets to the honor roll, I would be jealous, but still friendly and congratulating.

I understand that jealousy is a sin, but it's also a natural feeling isn't it? I understand that the best thing to do to stay happy with the way things are, but I feel like I really can't. I've never felt this envious ever. Is it some hormonal change that happens in growing up? I've never been tempted to act upon jealousy, but my point is that the feeling is just awful, and I need to do something about it.


Answer

What is normal is to have your moods amplified by your bouncing hormone levels. The important thing to remember is that just because you feel something, it doesn't mean you should act on that feeling. Feelings are often wrong. "He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, but whoever walks wisely will be delivered" (Proverbs 28:26).

Jealousy is wanting to hold on to something that you believe is yours. It isn't an improper feeling if what you want to hold onto really is yours. It can be very improper if you are trying to hold onto something that isn't yours. This is why God says, "For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God" (Deuteronomy 4:24). We all belong to God, and God has the right to hold on to us.

Envy is wanting what belongs to someone else. Not just wanting the same thing as someone else, but wanting to possess the very thing that someone has.

A part of your difficulty is a lack of contentment with who you are. In part this is because you are in the midst of change, so it is hard to know who you are. But let's look at your examples.

You are jealous of others who may be more handsome than you. Think about it for a moment. For any attribute there will always be other who have more and who have less than what you have. Even if you happen to be the most handsome man on earth at this moment, you will not retain the title. Eventually you are going to grow old. "Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing ..." (Proverbs 31:30). To put emphasis on attributes that cannot last is a fruitless pursuit. Better is to see yourself accurately. You are a handsome young man. Some are more handsome than you and others less, but their beauty does nothing to improve or worsen your own beauty.

You also mention be envious of your friend. There is nothing wrong with finding a challenge in competition, after all sporting events are built around this idea. But once again the facts are that in everything some are better and others are worse than you are. There are things that your friend excels at and is better than you. There are things that you excel at and are better than him. No two people are exactly the same. No one is best at everything nor is the best person always the best. "I returned and saw under the sun that - the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to men of understanding, nor favor to men of skill; but time and chance happen to them all" (Ecclesiastes 9:11). In other words, even the best person can have an off day and someone not quite as good can be having a really good day.

What is happening is that you evaluating yourself by comparing yourself to other people. That is always a poor standard. It varies and is unstable. The only standard that matters is how we appear in God's sight. "It is not good to eat much honey; so to seek one's own glory is not glory" (Proverbs 25:27). Be the best you can be, but be content with the knowledge that who you are and your worth is not dependent on any other person.