For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.
We know what jealousy does. It causes us to think and do things that we wouldn’t normally do. James points out that this is the cause of disorder and every evil practice.
Indeed, jealousy, envy, and coveting are closely tied to most sins. People steal because they want what someone else has. They lie to get ahead. They kill out of jealousy or in an attempt to steal. People commit adultery because they are unhappy with their spouse and want something they believe is better. Even sins such as idolatry are tied to wanting something more because a person engages in idolatry in hopes of receiving something in return.
In marriage there are obvious areas of jealousy. Your spouse spends too much time with their friends – or worse, coworkers of the opposite sex. You want the attention that is given to others and depending on the situation it may be fair or unfair to expect this.
There are hidden areas of jealousy as well. What does the husband whose wife makes more money than him feel? What about the spouse who is less educated than the other? There are many instances when we should be happy for our spouse but instead we are jealous because we want to be in the same position or feel as if we deserve to be in the same position.
We should always want the best for our spouse and we should be happy about the things that make them happy. There are times when sinful behavior causes jealousy – such as an instance of infidelity – but that isn’t the point in this case. If our spouse is happy – and what they’re doing isn’t sinful – then we should be happy as well. Anything else not only detracts from their happiness but also hurts us and our relationship with them.