Envy is a self-focused problem. Many people are not satisfied with who they are. When they look into a mirror, they don’t see the real “them,” they see what they want to become. This type of envy is harmful to the soul.
Proverbs 14:30 states, “A sound heart is life to the body, but envy is rottenness to the bones.”
It has been said by Socrates that, “Envy is the ulcer of the soul.” A Danish proverb states, “Rust consumes iron and envy consumes itself.” Another said, “Envy is the art of counting the other fellows blessings instead of your own.” In other words, envy destroys a person from the inside out.
Envy happens in the commonality of life. I am not envious of Super Bowl champion quarterback, Drew Brees. Why? Because it is impossible for me to attain his ability in football. It is easy to refrain from envy toward people who are far beyond what we can achieve. However, we tend to be envious toward people who are achieving things that we believe we can accomplish. You might be covetous of Drew Brees’ ability but not necessarily envious.
So, how do we prepare for dealing with envy? Study the following.
Key Truths About Envy
1. Understand the differences between jealousy, covetousness, and envy:
- Jealousy–”I had a best friend but now he is best friends with someone else, and I don’t like it. I want my friend back!”
- Covetousness–”My friend received gifts on his birthday, and I want those gifts.”
- Envy–”Please don’t give my friend good gifts on his birthday because I don’t want him to have better stuff than me!”
2. Understand that envy kills the spirit, robs the heart of joy, the body of health, and destroys relationships.
- Jesus said, in Matthew 27:18, “For he knew that for envy they had delivered Him.” The motivation of the leaders who sent Jesus to the cross was envy. They didn’t want Jesus to have a following or receive recognition. Their envy destroyed them on the inside to the point that they had to get even with Him.
- In Genesis 4, envy brought death to a family through a dispute between Cain and Able.
- With Joseph, his brothers envied him. This envy brought problems to the family for years to come.
- King Saul was appointed as the first king of Israel. Envy toward David and all the people who followed David drove Saul crazy–literally!
- The priests in Jesus day were so envious of Jesus it brought death.
- The Jews under the ministry of Paul and Barnabus were so envious of their followings that they either ran them out of town or locked them up.
3. Envy is a child of pride.
- Pride feels that we deserve something more than others deserve it.
4. Envy in your life will keep you from being a productive person.
- Envy does not focus on producing good work, a good family, or developing good friends.
- Envy focuses on keeping others from having good things.
- Envy consumes your thinking, keeping you from focusing on the task at hand.
- Envy doesn’t drive you to work harder, rather, it makes you sad, discouraged, and ineffective.
5. The Good News: Focusing on Christ takes the sting out of envy!
- Christ wants us to serve Him completely. That means that we are not working for what will get us ahead, but what will give Him priority.
- When you see envy, turn quickly to Christ and say, “Oh, God, in Christ I need your love to penetrate my heart so that jealousy, covetousness, or envy does not destroy me from the inside out.”
Pay attention to the signs. Do you know any people who are envious? The Bible makes it clear that envy is not a fruit of the Spirit. It is not something you want to acquire–it is something you want to get rid of! Take your envy to God and repent of your wrong ways and then, go help a friend who needs this truth!