Where does jealousy come from?

One of my co-workers asked this question the other day.

I had just shared that I felt strangely jealous that another campus ministry had planted at one of the Miami-Dade College campuses before us. Don't get me wrong: the emotion I feel in hearing that this campus has a ministry presence ... that emotion is 95% positive. Joy. But there is some jealousy. Where does it come from?

I have a couple of ideas.

Perhaps jealousy comes from a place that says that in order to have value, you have to have a high rank. Top of the class. King of the hill. When others threaten your position, achieving something you haven't, jealousy ensues.

You've seen this, right? Jockeying for position in a market. Angling for a promotion. Keeping track of a parent's praise. Someone else lands a client, scores points, earns praise ... and there's the jealousy.

Perhaps jealousy also comes from a perception of scarcity. If someone has something you don't, you wonder if there will be enough to go around, if there will be enough for you. Zero sum. Two for me, none for you.

You've seen this too, I'm sure. Sibling rivalry. Crunching budget numbers. Playing time. Though we know we worship a God of abundance, we worry that we'll be sent away from this day, this week, this life empty-handed. And it's in that worry that jealousy inserts its green face.

One last thought, perhaps jealousy comes from a place of laziness. The easy ladder gets climbed and then pulled up after. We'll have to walk the long way around. The easy path of being first, of getting the first pick, of getting there first ... when that path gets taken, jealousy isn't far behind.

Think about the areas where you experience jealousy:
  • your workplace
  • your career
  • your family
  • your friendships
  • your ministry
  • your generation
What other insights do you find about jealousy?

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