The Green-Eyed Monster

Southern California Seminary, Envy, Frustration, Jealousy

The Green-Eyed Monster

Article by Dr. Ron Barnes, Professor of Biblical Studies, Southern California Seminary

The Green-Eyed Monster Article by Dr. Ron Barnes, Professor of Biblical Studies, Southern California Seminary. It lives inside of us — like it or not. It lives inside of us — like it or not. And it has the power to enslave us — believe it or not. Complaining is its middle name. And “Thou shall not covet” its favorite commandment . . . to break! It steals joy, destroys gratitude, cancels peace, — it is a robber of contentment. Some have called it “The Green-Eyed Monster.”


Shakespeare called it “the green sickness.”[i] Socrates, observing jealousy’s power to consume the bones and marrow of a person’s moral fiber, labeled it the “soul’s saw.”[ii] On the walls of biblical history hang portraits of jealousy’s victims: Cain (Gen. 4), Joseph’s brothers (Gen. 37), Korah and his rebel friends (Num. 16:1-3), a demon-terrorized King Saul (1 Sam.18:8-9), and the carnal Christians in Corinth (1 Cor. 3:1-3), to name a few. If we want to be miserable, all we have to do is compare what we have with that of others. We choose heartache over gladness when we allow jealousy in four areas of our lives: affluence, appearance, abilities and achievements, and advancement.


We envy what others possess: a nicer car, kitchen, television, neighborhood, or wardrobe we can’t afford.


We wish we had the looks, physique, or health of someone else. Or we wish our spouses had the looks, physique, or health of someone else.

Abilities & Achievement

We burn with jealousy that we lack the skills, the education, the publications, or the wide-spread influence that others have.


We react wrongly when someone else gets the job we craved. We see others offered opportunities we desired, and we feel our jaws tighten. We read in Hebrews 13:5 that we are to keep our lives “free from the love of money and be content with what [we] have.” Why? “Because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you’” (emphasis added). The antidote for jealousy, then, is recognizing that God Himself is our greatest treasure and most prized possession (Phil. 3:7-10), our exceeding joy (Psalm 43:4), and our faithful caretaker (Matt. 6:33). Once we “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8), there is no vacancy for jealousy in our happy soul. Once we learn that we can drink our fill from the infinite well of the Supremely Satisfying One, from the river of His delights (Psalm 36:8), we finally rest like a weaned child against his mother (Psalm 131).

Fully content!

Isn’t this what fitful Job had to learn, in his panic room of adversity? That God is worth loving — and trusting — just for who He is, apart from His gifts. In the midst of His adversity, he proclaimed, “I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food” (Job 23:12). God’s lovely presence is sufficient to thrill our soul, and settle our soul. He is contentment. “The Lord is my Shepherd,” said David, “I shall not want” (Ps. 23:1). Is it possible to make the second declaration without the first? Only a fool thinks so. But the reverse is true also: If the Lord is not my Shepherd, I shall want! So why settle for lesser things when the One who created the stars and planets — Emmanuel — has come to live with us? And as the cure for jealousy — that Green-eyed Monster — let God be your shepherd, for He is more than enough.

Dr. Ron Barnes is Professor of Biblical Studies at Southern California Seminary. His motto for life is: “Lord Jesus, help me to live this day the way I will wish I had lived this day when I stand before You on That Day” (2 Timothy 4:6-8).
[i]…/green-with-envy-2109, accessed 8/16/2017.
[ii], accessed 8/16/2017.

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