Historically speaking, it seems to me that jealousy is one of the very first evidences of human depravity. Just ask Abel (supposing we could... actually, one day we probably will.)
You know the story. Cain was a farmer, Abel a herdsmen. Cain brought an offering to God from the produce of his farm, Abel brought an offering from the firstborn animals of his herd. God didn't approve of Cain's offering, Abel's He did. (Genesis 4:3-5, The Message)
And Cain was ticked off... with God.
Who are you to tell me that what I have offered is not acceptable? Cain had a little of his father in him, some Sinatra too... I did it myyyyyyy waaaaaaay! I can see him now... face flushed, palms sweating, heart racing, blood pressure spiking, pupils dilating, teeth grinding, fists clenched. Heck, I can almost feel it myself. Am I alone here?
The quality in Abel (i.e., his faith, see Hebrews 11:4) that would arouse Cain's jealousy toward his brother could have just as easily been cause for admiration and affection. But that's not what happened because jealousy was not the primary passion revealing itself in that moment... jealousy was the fruit of Cain's anger... and his anger was toward God... and he was angry with God because God told him that he had not done well, that he had failed to do the right thing... and when God pricks our hearts with his truth it has the tendency to make us furious, fighting mad, and vengeful... so Cain asked his brother to take a walk... and you already know the rest of the story... Cain was angry and then became jealous and then he hated/murdered his brother.
But I'm thinking there's at least one other layer to unwrap here. The murder is easy to see and so is the jealousy and so is the anger with God... it's all very explicit in the story. But here's something deeper to consider... can't tell you if I'm right or not, but I'll go with it anyway... and here it is, one word: blessing. Cain didn't have God's blessing. I'm not talking about 'blessing' as in steady rains and crop abundance. I'm talking about 'blessing' as in favor and pleasure and regard (as the text puts it in Genesis 4:4-5).
And we ALL, in the deepest parts of our soul, want God's blessing, His favor, his kindness towards us, His approval, His regard. Every single one of us. Cain's parents had it at one time... God looked at everything He had made one day, Adam and Eve included, and He said this is so good. Adam and Eve had peace with God, peace with each other, and neither one of them knew anything about shame. And then Hell entered the garden and God's blessing was gone... not His presence, not His mercy and not His grace, but His blessing... His regard and pleasure and favor for what was taking place... gone... everything had changed... and the results infected the hearts of Adam's sons like staph infects the bloodstream.
There is a beautiful reality to the larger story here... God's blessing, the affirmation we all desire, is available to everyone, and it is available via what I will call The Way of Abel... and it's called faith. Abel offered his best in faith and he received God's blessing. Cain didn't offer his best, for whatever the reason, and did not receive God's blessing.
And the results were catastrophic.
God help us to live by faith. Thank You for the blessing comes with that.
It is impossible to please God without faith. --Hebrews 11:6