Mary was upset as she talked about a recent conversation with her sister:
"All she talks about is how much money she has and all the fun travel she does. It's hard for me to hear given my husband's job loss this year. It's like she flaunts her lifestyle with no sensitivity to how I am feeling. I admit, I'm envious of her life. I know that's wrong as a Christian, but I'm struggling."
This green-eyed monster called envy doesn't really have anything to do with St. Patrick's Day. But if we aren't careful, it can consume our thoughts or actions. Wishing you had what your family member has or feeling envious over someone's job or spouse is a pain of wanting something you don't have. And it is easy to feel green with envy these days when friends are constantly posting their "stuff" and exciting vacations all over Facebook and other social media.
While envy and jealousy are close bedfellows, there is a difference. Jealousy is a complex emotion and involves insecurity over losing something you already have. As a result, you can become envious, that emotion involved in fearing the loss of something. For example, you can be jealous of losing your spouse, yet envious of the marriage you see others having that you do not have.
When you feel envious, pay attention to it. The Bible actually has much to say about this negative emotion.
Six Bible Verses about Envy
- Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant. When the love of God is in us, we have a different response to seeing what others have. Instead of envy, we rejoice for their blessing. We trust that God is our provider and cares for us, rather than being envious of what others have and coveting their lives or material things. Love is patient and kind. 1 Corinthians 13:4
- For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. Some version say envy and selfish ambition–both lead to disorder! In other words, the end result of allowing envy to build in your heart, will create disorder and cause you to do things that only bring you trouble. This speaks to the importance of keeping envy in check. James 3:16
- Let not your heart envy sinners, but continue in the fear of the Lord all the day. If we are honest, it is easy to envy people who are not living for God who seem to get what they want and get ahead because of their lack of integrity and stepping on others. We see the rich and famous living lavish lifestyles. Yet, the Bible tells us not to envy these people. They have their reward now, but that does not count for eternity. Keep you eyes on the larger prize. Proverbs 23:17
- A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot. Envy is bad for your health and mental health. It steals peace because of how focused we become on wanting what we do not have. Left uncheck, envy will damage us in physical and emotional ways. Proverbs 14:30
- Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. The writer really understands human nature–our tendency to be prideful of what we have. Yet, James tells us that every good gift comes from God. It is not about how special we are. And certainly, God doesn't want us flaunting our blessings over others to make them feel less than we. Galatians 5:26
- So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. This is our instruction. When the feeling comes, put it away! Do not allow it to grow in your heart or mind. Take the envious thought captive–confine it, and replace it with the love of God. 1 Peter 2:1
Bottom line, envy is not becoming to the Christian life. It leads to all kinds of negative feelings and prompts us to act in ways that are not godly.
So instead of focusing on what we don't have, express gratitude for the many blessings you do have. Gratitude is an envy killer!