I never really like the idea of envy, or jealousy being personified by the expression the green eyed monster. Probably the most precise reason for this is because I have green eyes. I'm not sure where the color green, or the body part of eyes got grouped together to reflect the terms jealousy or envy, but it certainly is something most English speaking peoples comprehend. I may not be able to give you the history behind the grouping of words green eyed monster, but I certainly can tell you the origination of envy and jealousy and how devastating it can be to relationships.
Envy and Jealousy evolved that day in the garden when Adam and Eve made their decision to sin. This particular form of sin is the antecedent to other sins like murder, greed, slander, and deceit. We are all too acquainted with envy and jealousy in its rawest forms even as young children experiencing sibling rivalry. Evidentially, even in the church, even in areas of ministry, even among Christians, there is the problem of envy. Paul seemed to be dealing with this problem when he addressed the Church at Corinth about spiritual gifts in I Corinthians 12.
Paul explains that there is absolutely no reason for jealousy or envy from God's perspective. He writes that gifts are given for the common good (verse 7) and that they are arranged just as God wanted them (verse 18). This means that I have no reason to be jealous of my friend who is honored for her service when I'm not. I shouldn't think that I am better or more blessed by God because I get to provide a service to the kingdom of God and someone else doesn't. I don't have to beat my head up against the wall trying to serve God in the same way my friend does, when I don't have that gift.
God looks at me and considers how I use the gifts he has given me. He doesn't compare me to Billy Graham and ask me how many countries I have preached in or how many thousands of people have come to Christ because of my obedience to God. He looks at how grateful I am for the gift or gifts He has given me and how faithful I am in allowing Him to use those gifts to glorify him.
This is hard for my sinful nature to grasp. It feels more comfortable feeling envy or jealousy, or at least, self rejection when others are given gifts or blessings that I do not receive. Henri Nouwen writes about this is as he considers that God loves him just as much as any other child of His. This is not easy for me to grasp. In a world that constantly compares people, ranking them as more or less intelligent, more or less attractive, more or less successful, it is not easy to really believe in a love that does not do the same. When I hear someone praised, it is hard not to think of myself as less praiseworthy; when I read about the goodness and kindness of other people, it is hard not to wonder whether I myself am as good and kind as they; and when I see trophies, rewards, and prizes being handed out to special people, I cannot avoid asking myself why that didn't happen to me. (p. 97, The Return of the Prodigal Son)
There really is no place for envy or jealousy of your brothers and sisters in Christ. I Corinthians 12:13 says For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body--whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free--and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. There is complete unity. Each of us are loved, forgiven and accepted equally. There are differences in our salaries, our areas of ministry, our talents and abilities. Our differences do not define our dignity to God. Next time, you see someone in the body of Christ being honored, feel honored yourself. Next time you are honored for your faithfulness to God, honor God for giving you the privilege. Don't give envy and jealousy a chance to lead you to self-rejection, hatred, or strife. Let the One Spirit confirm your utter worth and leave it at that.