This post is all about envy in the bible
It’s no secret that envy is toxic. But what exactly is envy? What does envy in the bible look like? And why should we avoid it?
In this blog post, I will explore seven characteristics of envy based on scripture. I will also give you my personal story on envy. Lastly, I provide super detailed biblical tips and smart strategies to deal with or overcome envy.
Quick disclaimer: Nobody is perfect, everyone (me included 🙋🏾♀️) has different trials and struggles throughout their Christian life. However, I believe we need to be aware of certain things in order to live a purpose-driven life. ❤️
Ready? Let’s begin!
“Envy is terrible.”
My younger sisters and I had a beloved music cassette🎶. The cassette had a lyric book titled “Proverbs for Family, A Hosanna Children’s Music Tape.”
As young girls in the 90s, we loved to learn the word of God through song, so this quickly became a fun pastime! After school, we would dash into our parents’ bedroom and lay on the plush carpet. Then we would hit “play” on the radio. There were lots of giggles and the occasional, “No, let’s repeat… I’ll take the chorus this time!”
In no time, we memorized the whole cassette plus the verses that went along with it! I vividly remember, mom at times laying beside us and singing along with us; this is a beautiful memory forever engrained in my childhood memories.
One song in the cassette that stuck in my head was about envy! The chorus of the song starts with “Envy is terrible.” I can still sing the song word for word. 🤣
Here is a YouTube video of that particular song…please picture me as a 7-year-old child belting out this song.
So, over the years, as much as I had memorized that catchy song and knew that “envy is terrible,” I didn’t understand what that meant until I witnessed its adverse effects. It then dawned on me…. that envy is truly terrible- it’s toxic, can ruin relationships, and prevent people from fully walking in their purpose.
So today, I write to you, not as that 7-year-old singing on my parents’ bedroom floor, but as someone who has witnessed firsthand the consequences of envy.
What envy looks like
James 3:16, “For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.“
Envy can manifest itself in several ways. In this section, I’ll share how I’ve personally witnessed envy manifest.
Remember, it takes discernment and reflection to spot it! Envy manifests differently in different relationship dynamics, but I believe this will be helpful if I share my take:
- Rumors and Gossip: Someone who is envious of another person’s success may try to undermine them by gossiping about them or spreading rumors. They may also try to sabotage their efforts or belittle their accomplishments.
- Microaggressions: These are small, often subtle actions or words that communicate a message of disrespect or exclusion. For example, if one is envious of their coworker’s promotion, they may give them false praise or backhanded compliments. They may also try to downplay their achievements or make them feel like they don’t deserve their success.
- Jealousy and unhealthy competition: If you are envious of someone, you may find yourself constantly comparing yourself to them and trying to one-up them. This can create a toxic environment and damage relationships. It’s important to remember that we are all on our own journey, and we each have our own unique gifts and talents. Comparing ourselves to others will only make us feel inferior and prevent us from living our best life.
What is envy?
Envy is “a feeling of discontented or resentful longing aroused by someone else’s possessions, qualities, or luck.” (Definition obtained from Lexico)
Envy is a dangerous emotion that can lead to many negative consequences. If you find yourself feeling envious of someone, it is essential to take a step back and examine the root cause. Once you identify the root cause, you can start to work on addressing it.
Difference between envy and jealousy
Do you know the difference between envy and jealousy? They are two very different emotions, but they are often confused with each other and are used synonymously.
Envy is when you want something that someone else has. For example, you might see a friend with a new car and feel envious of them. You want what they have.
Jealousy, on the other hand, is when you feel threatened by someone else. For example, if you are in a relationship and you see your significant other talking to someone else, you might feel jealous.
So, in summary, envy is about wanting something that someone else has. Jealousy is about feeling threatened by someone else.
The root of envy or causes of envy in the bible
Per my research and study, here are three causes of envy:
This is when we want something that someone else has, even if we don’t need it. This can lead to envy because we begin to feel like we are not good enough unless we have what the other person has.
Colossians 3:5 says, “…Covetousness, which is idolatry.” This means that when we envy others, it is equivalent to worshipping them or the things they have.
When we are proud, we tend to compare ourselves to others and look down on them. This can lead to feelings of envy because we start to desire what they have.
If we look at James 4:6, it says, “But he gives more grace. Therefore, it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. “
This is when we are not happy with what we have and start to desire what others have. This can lead to feelings of envy because we want what they have instead of being content with what we have.
In 1 Timothy 6:6-7, we are told of the importance of being content, “But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world.”
What does the Bible say about envy?
Let’s go over a rapid-fire🔥overview of some key Bible lessons:
1. Envy and selfish ambition lead to confusion and evil works (James 3:14–16)
3. Envy leads to awful side effects (Proverbs 14:30)
4. We should strive to overcome envy (1 Peter 2:1–2)
5. Envy is defined as an act of the flesh and not of the spirit (Galatians 5:19–21)
6. Envy is a form of rebellion and sin (Romans 1:25-29)
7. Envy has dangerous consequences, i.e., Cain kills Abel (Genesis 4)
More bible verses about envy
Proverbs 14:30 – A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.
Proverbs 23:17 – Do not let your heart envy sinners, but always be zealous for the fear of the LORD.
Matthew 27:18 – For he knew that it was out of envy that they had handed Jesus over to him.
James 3:16 – For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.
7 characteristics of envy
There are seven detailed characteristics of envy that Christians need to be aware of.
Envy can poison our hearts and minds, causing us to think and behave in ways that are harmful to ourselves and to others. When we are consumed by envy, we become obsessed with what other people have that we do not have. We compare ourselves to them, feeling inferior and resentful. We may try to hurt or undermine them in order to feel better about ourselves. This toxic emotion can damage our relationships and lead us into a spiral of self-destruction.
Envy eats away at our hearts, slowly destroying our ability to love and be loved. When we are controlled by envy, we are unable to enjoy the good things in our own lives. We may find ourselves dwelling on the past or fixating on what other people have that we do not. This can lead to a deep sense of dissatisfaction and resentment.
Envy can cause us to act in ways that are harmful to ourselves and to others. We may take risks that we would not normally take or make decisions out of spite or jealousy. Envy can also lead us into temptation and sin. We may be tempted to lie, cheat, or steal in order to get what we want. This dangerous emotion can have a negative impact on every area of our lives.
4. Lack or scarcity mindset
When we are controlled by envy, we focus on what we do not have instead of what we do have. We may feel like we are not good enough or that we will never have what other people have. This can lead to a feeling of hopelessness and despair.
This one actually piggy backs on point #4 that I just mentioned. Envy causes us to believe that there is not enough to go around. We may feel like we have to compete with others for what we want. This can lead us to make decisions out of fear instead of love.
Envy can lead us down a path of self-destruction. At its extreme, one may make choices that are harmful to themselves to cope with envy. They may also engage in questionable behaviors in an attempt to numb the pain.
7. Sinful; against God’s design
Envy is an emotion that goes against God’s design for us. When we are controlled by envy, we are not living in accordance with His will for our lives. We may find ourselves in conflict with His commandments and principles. Envy can lead us astray from the path of righteousness and into a life of sin.
If you find yourself struggling with envy, there is hope. God can help you overcome this destructive emotion and live a life that is free from its control. He can give you the strength to resist temptation and make wise decisions. He can also help you see the good in yourself and others instead of focusing on what you do not have. With God’s help, you can overcome envy and live a life full of joy, peace, and love.
8 most effective Christian steps on how to deal with an envious person or friend
Ok, we have reached the most anticipated section…
Here are Christian steps on how to deal with an envious person or friend.
1. Pray for discernment
The first step is to pray for God’s guidance and wisdom. Ask Him to help you see the situation clearly and to know how to best deal with your friend.
2. Reflect and be honest and transparent about the facts
Take some time to reflect on the facts. Try to be as objective as possible. If there are specific incidents that have bothered you, be honest and transparent about them.
3. Evaluate the behavior of your friend
Once you have taken time to reflect on the situation, it’s essential to evaluate your friend’s behavior. Is this a one-time thing, or is it a pattern of behavior? If it’s a pattern, is it getting worse or better?
4. Seek neutral or unbiased advice from a trusted person
Once you have evaluated the situation, it’s important to seek unbiased advice from someone you trust. This could be a church member, counselor, or close friend. They can help you see the situation more clearly and provide helpful advice.
5. Approach with love and correct in love
When you approach your friend about their behavior, it’s essential to do so with love. Remember that they are not perfect and that God loves them just as much as He loves you. Try to be understanding and compassionate. If something needs to be corrected, do so in love.
When your friend shares their side of the story, it’s essential to listen. Try to understand where they are coming from. Ask questions if you need clarification. And be sure to let them know that you are really listening by giving them your undivided attention.
7. Be kind and open-minded
Even if you don’t agree with your friend, it’s important to be kind and open-minded. Try to see things from their perspective. And remember that God loves them, even if they are difficult to love.
8. Evaluate your strategy (internal audit or reflection)
After you have tried all of the above steps, it’s important to evaluate your strategy. Evaluate your strategy with patience, and remember it’s ok to take a break. If you feel like you are not getting anywhere, it’s ok to take a break. If you are absolutely sure on what you should do, you can decide on what your relationship dynamic will look like moving forward. Pray about it and trust that God will guide you.
How to overcome envy…the Christian way
Envy is a sin that can be difficult to overcome, but it is possible with God’s help. Here are some tips to overcome:
Take some time to think about why you are feeling envious. What is it that you want that someone else has? Is there something that you can do to get what you want?
Once you have reflected on your envy, try to accept the fact that you cannot have everything you want. This can be difficult, but it is important to remember that everyone has different gifts and talents. Just because someone has something that you want does not mean they are better than you.❤️
If you are still struggling with envy, it is important to forgive yourself. Forgive yourself for feeling jealous and for any thoughts or actions you have taken because of envy. Remember that God forgives us when we ask for forgiveness, so we should extend that same grace to ourselves.
When we focus on what someone else has, it can make us forget about all of the good things in our own lives. Gratitude can help us to see the good in our lives and to be thankful for what we have. Try to take some time each day to think about the things you are grateful for.
5. Knowing your identity in Christ
When we know who we are in Christ, it helps us to see ourselves as God sees us. We are valuable and loved, no matter what anyone else has or doesn’t have.
6. Find something positive
Find something positive in the person or situation that you are envious of (be genuine). If you can find something to admire about the person or situation, it can gradually rewire you to look for the good in people.
7. Talk to someone about your envy
Talking to someone else can help you to see your envy from a different perspective. It can also help you to find ways to overcome it.
8. Pray and read the word
Prayer and reading the word are essential and timeless tips to surrender to God. When we pray and read the word, we seek to hear from God and renew our minds. This can help one let go of their envy and ask God for help overcoming it.
When therapy is needed to address underlying envy issues
Envy is often rooted in our own insecurities and feelings of inadequacy. We compare ourselves to others and find that we fall short. This can lead to a downward spiral of negative emotions, and addressing these feelings is important.
So, in short, there are many underlying issues of envy that can cause problems in our lives, and these issues sometimes should be addressed in a therapeutic setting. A therapist can help us understand our envy and work through the underlying issues that are causing it.
Why do I say this?
Envy can be a very destructive emotion. If left unchecked, envy can lead to resentment, and bitterness. These negative emotions can cause problems in our relationships, work lives, and even our mental and physical health.
If you’re struggling with envy (either on the giving or receiving end), therapy can be a safe place to explore your emotions and learn how to deal with them in a healthy way. You don’t have to face this battle alone!
Envy can hinder our God-given purpose!
There are many things in this world that can hinder us from walking in our purpose. One of those things is envy. Envy can come in many different forms, but the end result is always the same: it keeps us from achieving our God-given potential.
As described earlier, the Bible has a lot to say about envy. In Proverbs 14:30, we are told that “envy is the rottenness of the bones.” This is a strong statement that should not be taken lightly. Envy can literally eat away at us from the inside out if we allow it to take root.
When walking out our God-given purpose, it’s essential to know our identity and our relationship with God. When we are right with Him, we will not be as concerned with what others have. We will be content with what He has given us.
Philippians 4:11-13 says, “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”
When we focus on our relationship with God, we will find that envy fades away. We will be content with what He has given us and will not compare ourselves to others. This is the key to overcoming envy and walking in our purpose!
And that’s it, folks, envy in the bible!
I hope you enjoyed this post that I wrote with love ❤️ and an earnest desire to provide detailed information.
If you found this post helpful, feel free to share it with your friends!
P.S Here is the YouTube video for this post: