Genesis 37:11 and Jealousy

jacob-joseph-coat-small1Jealousy is dangerous.  It leads to hatred and pain for all involved.  There is one verse that is a good summation of the entire Joseph narrative:

His brothers were jealous of him, but his father took careful note of the matter.

This jealousy, harbored and fed over time, led to hatred enough that Joseph’s brothers wanted to kill him.  The only thing that prevented them from killing him was a distant sense that he was a brother, so they let their hatred feed into greed and sold their own brother into slavery.  In so doing, they got rid of Joseph and, in effect, killed their father Jacob since he mourned for the rest of his life for Joseph.

Jealousy is just as dangerous to us.  There are people who incite jealousy in others just as Joseph did because they are prideful, full of themselves, and let everybody around them know it.  Joseph also aroused jealousy because he received preferential treatment from his father, and although this was no fault of his own, Joseph did not try to mitigate the problem.  Instead he enjoyed it.

There are also people who incite jealousy in others because of those others’ low self-esteem and poor self-image.  These people simply live their lives as best they can, not flaunting anything or trying to draw attention to themselves, but because some around them are emotionally hurt, they perceive normal life as an insult against them.  In situations like this there can never be any resolution to the problem until the jealous person realizes the issue is with them, not the other one, and takes steps to heal the broken self-image.  If that does not happen, the jealousy will turn into hatred, and then the issue will be compounded greatly.

Joseph was able to find reconciliation because the jealousy surrounding him was, in fact, his fault.  He learned through the tough experiences in his life that all of his gifts were from God, and instead of being prideful, he was confident in God.  This is good news for people who are prideful and create jealousy in others.  It can be overcome.

For people who feel jealous of someone else because of their own low self-esteem, the process of reconciliation can be more difficult.  The one with the poor self-image feels like the one who is wronged, so it is more difficult to let go of the hatred and bitterness.  If it is not overcome, though, it will get worse and worse until one day it will explode and irreparable damage may be done.  The good news is that with God, healing can occur.  But the person who feels wronged and is jealous must be able to sincerely admit that the issue resides with them and be willing to allow God to be at work in their lives.

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