Emulation can have two different meanings: imitation of someone we think is a good example, or envy of someone who has something we want to have. The Bible condemns emulation that is jealous. In other translations of the Bible emulations are translated as jealousy.
Emulation means wanting to be like someone else . Emulation can be a harmless thing when we want to imitate someone’s qualities. The Bible says that we must be like Jesus, using his life as a reference for ours ( Ephesians 5: 1-2 ). The aim of our lives is to reflect the glory of Jesus in the world.
When we look at the life of Jesus, we find a wonderful example of love for others and dedication to God. Whoever loves Jesus has the desire to imitate, or emulate, his attitudes, because Jesus was the perfect man. That’s the good emulation.
The sin of emulation
Galatians 5: 19-21 lists a series of works of the flesh, which are the fruits of a life controlled by sin. Among these sins are jealousy, or emulations in older translations.
Emulation has a downside . We often want to imitate other people, not because we respect and admire them, but because we are jealous. We want to have the same success, the same fame, the same authority, the same wealth … We are not happy with the good of others; we feel envy.
See also: what does God say about envy?
Therefore, we try to imitate these people, fight them, take their position. We are not happy until we have what we think the other person has. This creates struggles and hatred among people ( James 4: 1-3 ).
The Bible teaches us to be content with what we have, without falling into envy. Jealous emulations do nothing for anyone. Many lives can be destroyed along the way, while we seek to dethrone another person. And in the end, we will not find the satisfaction we seek. True satisfaction comes from loving one another and having joy in Jesus, regardless of our circumstances.