Since I was raised in a family of pastors, I was taught different virtues and vices by my father
and grandfather, who are both pastors. One of the vices that they warned me against growing
up was jealousy. I later learned that most people assume those jealous of others have a
character flaw as they envy something they do not have. Since I am now a pastor who
understands biblical studies, I will share insights on what the word of God says about jealousy
and answer the question, is jealousy a sin?
In this article, I will discuss why jealousy is a sin according to the Bible. Join me in this
exploration as we look at what the Bible teaches about wrong jealousy and instances where
jealousy is accepted in the Bible. You will also learn God’s take on jealousy, and Bible verses
that talk about jealousy. Stick around to get the answers to these questions and more.
Why is jealousy a sin, according to the Bible?
Before diving into why the Bible pictures certain jealous feelings as a sin, the Oxford dictionary defines jealousy as “feeling or showing someone envy for their advantages and achievements.” Most people experience jealous feelings when someone else has achieved or has what they wish for and do not have at the moment. In today’s world, jealousy is often seen among friendships and results from people being self-centered and not being contented with what they have. The scripture is clear that this type of jealousy is sinful as it often leads to gossip, slander, and even hatred. Galatians 5:26 notes, “Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.”
Therefore, if you are experiencing unholy jealousy, it is a sin, and you should confess your wrongdoing to God, as his grace and mercy are enough to forgive you. 1st John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
The scripture also reinforces that jealousy is a sin and carries confusion in the book of James. James 3:16 says, “For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.” What is consistent through these verses is that jealousy and envy often result from selfishness and putting one’s desires first.
What does the Bible teach about wrong jealousy?
When the Bible talks about wrong jealousy, it often indicates that one is unsatisfied with what God has given them. Hebrews 13:5 teaches Christians to be contented with whatever they have. “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’”
Additionally, the book of Galatians warns us against being jealous and envying others. Galatians 5:26 says, “let us not be conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.” Most bible scholars agree that Jealous stems out of not being contented and being driven by our selfish desires.
1st Corinthians 3:3 notes, “for you are still of the flesh. For a while, there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh having only in a human way?” The flesh often describes man’s sinful nature, as written in the Bible. Therefore, the author of the book of Corinthians clearly described jealousy as being of the flesh, meaning it is wrong before God and thus a sin.
Additionally, wrong jealousy can lead us to commit other sins. We see this in the book of Genesis 3:4-8 when Cain killed his brother out of jealousy. Proverbs 14:30 says, “A sound heart is a life to the body, but envy is rottenness to the bones.”
Are there instances where jealousy is accepted in the Bible?
The scripture contains some instances where jealousy is depicted as being righteous and holy. This jealousy is not a sin and is accepted by God. The first instance where God accepts jealousy is when Exodus refers to Him as a jealous God. Exodus 34:14 says, “For you shall worship no other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.” This scripture refers to God as jealous, and bible scholars agree that this is a protective and responsible kind of jealousy. A jealousy that is not driven by self-gain, envy, or hatred of any kind; a pure kind of jealousy.
The holy Jealous that the scripture talks about in Exodus is a result of the faithful commitment of God to his people. This kind of jealousy can be applied in marriage only if other malicious feelings do not drive it; it should be righteous, just like the jealousness of God toward humanity. In the marriage context, a husband should expect his wife to be devoted to him, and the wife expects the same from the husband.
The book of Joshua 24:19 says, “He is a holy God; he is a jealous God. He will not forgive your rebellion and your sins. If you forsake the Lord and serve foreign gods, he will turn and bring disaster on you and make an end of you after he has been good to you.”
What is God’s take on jealousy?
God is described as a jealous God in the Bible. This is seen in the book of Exodus 34:14 and reinforced in the book of Joshua 24:19. The book of Joel 2:18 also speaks about the jealousy of God. “Then the Lord was jealous of his land and took pity on his people.” Whenever God was pictured as jealous in the Bible, it was in an attempt to restore a relationship with humanity. Therefore, his jealousy is not sinful as it is not driven by malicious feelings but by mercy and grace for his people.
What Bible verses talk about jealousy?
The scripture depicts jealousy as holy and unholy, depending on the circumstances. The verses about sinful jealousy include Genesis 30:1; “When Rachel saw that she bore Jacob no children, she envied her sister. She said to Jacob, ‘Give me children or I shall die!’”
1st Corinthians 13:4 says, “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant.”
Galatians 5:19-21 notes, “Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery. Enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
Job 5:2 says, “Surely vexations kill the fool, and jealousy slays the simple.”
1st Corinthians 3:3 says, “For you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of flesh and behaving only in a human way?”
James 3:14-15 says, “But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above but is earthy, unspiritual, and demonic. For when jealousy and self-ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.”
Romans 13:13-14 says, “let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.”
They say that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, right? Being raised by Christians significantly impacted my life since I started professing Christ from a young age. My passion for the Christian faith made me pursue a degree in Religious studies and a Masters in Theology. I am a believer and pastor dedicated to spreading the word of God. I have been in the Christian ministry for over a decade and am currently ministering in Life Christian Church. I have also been privileged to teach 4 Christian courses in a college and university. Please check the About Us Page for more details.