Philippians // The Truth About Jealousy

Images by Beautiful Light Photography

Images by Beautiful Light Photography

Bible verse 1: Philippians 2:29-30

Bible verse 2: 1 Corinthians 16: 17-18

In my high school there was this girl, let’s call her, Kate. Now, Kate was super popular and funny. She was the epitome of what I’d describe as “cool”.  She was always surrounded by friends, and no matter what period we were all hustling between, you could guarantee that someone was rushing over to have a good laugh with Kate before class started.

I didn’t really know Kate. Not the first few years of high school, anyway. But because she was so popular and because (and I didn’t admit this, even to myself) I was jealous of her, I assumed that Kate wasn’t a nice person. 

We can be irrational sometimes when we are jealous of someone. Instead of admiring Kate’s great qualities and thinking that she must be a great person since so many people liked her. I instead decided that because I was jealous of her, I didn’t like her. Because she wasn’t MY friend (I’d only seen her around), she must not be friendly. Way to make it all about me, right?

It wasn’t until Kate and I found ourselves in the same class senior year and I ended up with her as a co worker the summer after that I realized all my ideas about Kate were wrong. Yes, Kate was popular, but that was because she really was friendly, funny, and smart. She had the amazing ability to make everyone feel wanted and included, even in a large group. So Kate and I became friends, and she is still one of the dearest people I know.

I can imagine some people in the early church acting a little like me when it came to Timothy and Epaphroditus. They were working hard in the church and being recognized, and recognized by someone like Paul. Paul even goes so far as to tell the Philippians of Epaphroditus: Welcome him then in the Lord with all joy and hold such people in esteem, for the sake of the work of Christ he came close to death, risking his life to make up for those services to me that you could not perform. 

I can see myself being put-off by Epaphroditus getting all this praise. And I think sometimes we do this today in the Church. We see that girl who is always volunteering, or sings beautifully at mass, or seems to know everyone and get jealous. What if, instead, we appreciated what they give to the Church and leave our jealousy behind?

It’s hard to abandon jealousy because the first step is to recognize it. We are one body in Christ. We are all given gifts from God, and we need to strive to use them. Instead of being jealous of the gifts of others, we should celebrate them and see these people as inspirations. Maybe they will inspire us to use our own gifts more fully. Maybe, like me, you’ll discover that the people we are jealous of, really are deserving of what they’re given.

Reflection question 1: Who is someone you’ve been jealous of? Why were you jealous? What did that show about yourself?

Reflection question 2: What gifts can you appreciate in those around you? What gifts do you have?

Act: Think of someone you don’t know well, but whose gifts you appreciate. Write them a short thank you in appreciation for what they do!