“Jealousy just keeps building and building,” says James, 10. “When it builds, it gets worse. One time, I was jealous of my sister because she had more candy. I asked her if I could have some, and she said `No.’ I was so mad, I took some anyway.”
Whether you’re 10, 20, 30 or 60, the pressure exerted by harboring jealousy can explode into the most bizarre behavior. Motivating someone to steal is not the only way jealousy robs, says Marcus, 8: “Jealousy is like a robber, and it steals all your joy. It made me feel mad and scared of God.”
God wants us to be content and joyful in his presence. Jealousy’s focus fails to account for God’s sovereignty, longsuffering and justice. Centuries ago, the prophet Jeremiah asked, “Why does the way of the wicked prosper?”
The prosperity of the wicked seems to goad us to jealousy. If God is in control, why doesn’t he zap the wicked into oblivion? OK, maybe oblivion is a little harsh. I’ll settle for poverty. Make the wicked poor, God. If some crooks weren’t so rich, I’m sure I could be more content.
If God judged everyone’s sins immediately, the Apostle Paul would have died before his conversion. As an unbeliever, he became a Christian bounty hunter. He hunted Christians to persecute them! What could demonstrate the transforming power of God’s grace more than to turn the bounty hunter into the chief apostle?
“Cain was so jealous of his brother, he killed him because God took Abel’s sacrifice and not his,” says Jennifer, 10. The Genesis account of Cain’s murder says he was “very angry” when God respected Abel’s sacrifice, but not his.
Instead of humbling himself to change and present a sacrifice acceptable to God, Cain slit his brother’s throat. God wants to bless us more than we want to be blessed. His generosity knows no limits. We’re never in competition with anyone for God’s blessings or approval.
“Rejoice with those who rejoice,” the Apostle Paul wrote (Romans 12:15). “Body life” is a term some use to describe Paul’s view of Christians as individual members of the figurative body of Christ, the church. Christians shouldn’t compete with each other. Rather, we should build up the fellow believers by affirming their roles as part of a team to glorify God.
“A new girl came to school, and my best friend started spending a lot of time with her,” says Nicole, 11. “One day when we could work as partners, they got together and out of nowhere, I started to cry. My friend came over and started hugging me. That’s when I knew she didn’t forget about me. Since then, the new girl is one of my best friends.”
We can’t help how we feel about a close friend, but we can control how we think and what we do. What if Nicole had resorted to a slander campaign about the new girl or an angry outburst toward her best friend? She might be looking for two new friends.
“Jealousy drives some people crazy because they don’t think they’re loved or feel important,” says Anna, 9.
Think about this: When we’re confident of God’s love for us and his estimate of our importance, jealousy will take a holiday.
Memorize this truth: “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
Ask this question: Can you rejoice with your brothers and sisters in Christ when they enjoy success?
Kids Talk About God is designed for families to study the Bible together. Research shows that parents who study the Bible with their children give their character, faith and spiritual life a powerful boost. To receive Kids Talk About God three times a week in a free, email subscription, visit www.KidsTalkAboutGod.org/email.