The destructive power of jealousy should never be underestimated. Jealousy can undermine friendships, splinter families, and deeply hurt those who expect more from us than petty bickering. The bible condemns jealousy as a poison that kills communities when it warns us not to covet what belongs to others. “You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor's.” (Ex 20:17) In other words, we must work to celebrate the gifts others have, especially when the give glory to the God who is the giver of all good gifts.
The story of Joseph and his brothers offers us a picture of jealousy that is vile and ugly. Hated by his brothers because their father loves him so deeply, Joseph becomes an easy target when his father sends him to his brothers at Shechem where they are grazing their sheep. Seeing him coming, Joseph's brothers first determine to kill him, but then, when an opportunity to sell him as a slave presents itself, they strike a deal with some Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver and think they are rid of him forever. Little did they know that they would meet him again many years later when famine came to their land, and they had to go to Egypt to buy food. Joseph's willingness to welcome and reconcile with his brothers rather than punish them for their past jealousy, heartens us even today. Jealousy can be overcome if only we ask God for the strength to forgive and begin again.
Today, make an examination of conscience about your jealousies.
Have you known heroic people like Joseph who put aside their hurt for the good of family and community?