“Wow … she looks so good!”
“That’s such a nice meal they’re having …”
“I wish I could travel to all these picture-perfect places.”
These thoughts spring up every now and then as I scroll through social media posts to catch up on what’s been going on in my friends’ lives. However, the longer I spend viewing these posts, the less happy I become.
“Why can’t I be like my friend whose life seems to be going so well?”
At first, it seemed like a passing thought. But as it returned again and again, discontentment crept in and stole joy away from me. Then the silent accusation of “you’re not good enough” sowed seeds of doubt and jealousy, sprouting bitterness in my heart. I had unknowingly slipped into the trap of comparing myself with others. I saw what they had, and what I didn’t have. I envied where they were in life, and what I was lacking or missing out on.
God’s Word speaks much about jealousy. One real-life account took place in 1 Samuel 18–19. When youthful David defeated the enemy’s champion, Goliath, with a shot of his sling, he not only won the war against the Philistines, but he also won the favour of his people. The women celebrated by taking to the streets with tambourines to greet King Saul returning from the battlefield. They sang about King Saul defeating thousands, but David defeating tens of thousands! This wounded Saul’s pride deeply. How could the people compare their king to a shepherd boy? And if they proclaimed David as better than Saul, did that mean Saul would lose his kingdom to David? From then on Saul kept a jealous eye on David (1 Sam 18:9).
Saul’s obsession with comparing himself to David fuelled his resentment into attempted murder. Twice, Saul tried to pin David to a wall with a spear. Even after David married Saul’s daughter, Michal, Saul plotted to kill his own son-in-law to rid himself of the threat that the successful and well-loved David posed. Instead of controlling his thoughts and emotions, Saul acted on his jealous anger and did evil. To the end of Saul’s life, he lived with jealous eyes that were so focused on following David’s life that in the process, Saul lost focus on following God in his own life.
How should we, as girls after God’s heart, act when certain social media posts lure us into the trap of bitter comparison, or when we obsessively desire to be as talented or successful as someone else, or long for the material things or special relationship that another has? This is when we need to turn our eyes back to God. It is not easy and it can be a tearful struggle. But when we lay down our deepest longings mirrored by these posts — the kind of life we aspire to have, or the kind of person we dream of becoming — and confess our hearts of jealousy before God, He can set us free from a spirit of bitter envy and restore in us a heart of joy. Then we choose to do what’s right in God’s eyes — to love our neighbours as ourselves, celebrate our friends’ joys and wins, and be content with the life God has blessed us with right here, right now.