I have never really loved the phrase “green eyed monster” when referring to jealousy; simply because my eyes are green. Did that mean I was predisposed to being a jealous person? I have certainly had my battles with it.
We actually have Shakespeare to thank for that. Years ago the color green referred to many things that were sickly because when someone was seriously sick, their skin would turn a clammy green color.
The first time I can find that “green eyed jealousy” was mentioned was by Shakespeare in the Merchant of Venice written in 1596. Portia said;
“How all the other passions fleet to air,
As doubtful though and rash embraced despair,
And shuddering fear, and green -eyed jealousy! O love,
Be moderate; allay thy ecstasy,
In measure rein thy joy; scant this excess.
I feel to much thy blessing: make it less,
For fear I surfeit.”
Ever found yourself being jealous? Most of us think of extreme jealousy over our spouse when we talk about jealousy. But what about simple thoughts like:
“ I wish my husband treated me like hers treats her. “
“ I can’t believe she has that amazing job and I go to one I hate everyday!”
“Why do things always seem to work out for them?”
Jealousy slips into our lives in a lot simpler ways than we think. It doesn’t always come at us looking like a green-eyed monster. I know I have struggled with these very thoughts about others. However, I was only looking at the thing I wanted, not the things I didn’t even know about. We don’t see everything that goes on in someone else’s marriage. We don’t know how hard someone worked to get their job. We just compare our blooper reel to their highlight footage.
It causes jealousy. To get past jealousy we have to realize that we weren’t equipped to handle someone else’s life. I know that can be a hard pill to swallow, but it is the truth. We were given our life, and it does no good to be jealous of a life we weren’t made to handle. In wanting what someone else has, we don’t realize the bad comes with the good.
Why is it so important to overcome jealousy?
James 3:16 says “ For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind.”
There have been several times in my life, as in yours I am sure, where people were trying to make me look bad. Rumors were started, gossip was made, they were straight up trying to hurt me. It worked. Some of the things really hurt and, at first, I wanted to retaliate. I thought I had some serious enemies, why else would they be so bent on trying to destroy me? I realized, through the help of the Holy Spirit, that they were not enemies at all, just jealous.
It had not as much to do with me as the blessings that were in my life. They wished they were the pastor’s wife. They wish they were a leader in the church, they wished they…
They have no idea what they are wishing for!
Where there was jealousy, disorder and evil was found. These are good people, they were just jealous people. Realizing this made me go from wanting to protect myself to feeling sorry for them.
They are missing the goodness God has blessed them with by focusing on my life.
As I looked back on my life, I realized that same green-eyed monster had taken a huge hunk out of me more than once. I remembered times that it caused me to talk about someone when I shouldn’t, to try and figure out why God had blessed them and it had allowed my perspective of them to be changed – all because of jealousy.
We overcome evil by doing good. It really is that simple.
Overcome jealous thoughts by realizing you don’t have someone else’s life for a reason. Just as you are not equipped to handle someone else’s life, no one else is equipped to handle yours. Instead of being jealous, learn to appreciate what God is doing in others and what He is doing in yours.
I believe Shakespeare used the term “green” to describe jealousy because he understood that it is a sickness. One that alters our thoughts and changes our behavior.