ENVY: To feel uneasiness, mortification or discontent, at the sight of superior excellence, reputation or happiness enjoyed by another; to repine at another's prosperity; to fret or grieve one's self at the real or supposed superiority of another, and to hate him on that account. (Webter's 1828 Online Dictionary)
Do you struggle with envy? Take this little ENVY-test to determine if you have this problem:
1. You are territorial with your friendships. If a friend is paying too much attention to someone other than you, it makes you feel threatened or even angry.
2. You say negative things about people or their work. By trying to make others look inferior, you feel superior. Criticizing the work of others usually stems from insecurity rooted in envy.
3. You treat people as "suspects" until you have decided that they're "safe." In your point of view, "safe" means they are no threat to your current relationships.
4. You resent others when they are selected for positions that you want for yourself. You have thoughts like this: "Why did they pick her? I could do a better job!"
5. You are rarely happy when someone else has something good happening in their life. Whether it's a new car or a new position, you just can't seem to rejoice with others when they are blessed.
Envy is a joy-robber. It causes a person to become hyper-focused on the lives of others, leading to multiple people problems. Nobody has to live like that. Are you struggling with the "green-eyed monster" called envy? Consider these verses carefully:
"A sound heart is the life of the flesh: but envy the rottenness of the bones." (Prov. 14:30) God is giving us a choice in this word-picture: We can either have our sanity in the form of a "sound heart," or be sick to our stomachs with the constant discontentment of envy.
"Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous; but who is able to stand before envy?" (Prov. 27:4) Envy is so repellant that it makes a person next to impossible to be around. Scripture tells us it is worse than being around an angry person! Envy is also visible, because not many people are able to hide their dislike for others very well.
"But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy, and spake against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming." (Acts 13:45) If we allow envy to take root in our hearts, we eventually become paranoid, imagining that people are taking things from us that don't even belong to us. Over time, envy becomes so consuming that a person trapped in this perilous snare begins to see almost everyone as "the competition."
"For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another." (Titus 3:3) In the bad old days before we were saved, envy was just another part of our operating system. We didn't see anything wrong with petty rivalries, and even today, the world encourages the "every man for himself" mentality. This didn't work when we were unsaved, and it is even less effective after salvation.
Envy does nothing for us, but it does plenty to us! Envy keeps us from enjoying relationships that God has given us, and can even cause us to hurt others with our selfish immaturity. Why live like this when we can live in freedom? If you've been struggling with envy, confess it as sin, repent and forsake it. Envy is not doing you any favors, but it is causing you to live a flawed existence wrapped up in fear and self-inflicted grief.
Envy is selfishness wrapped in pride, hidden behind a flimsy wall of insecurity. We will never grow up as long as we allow ourselves to stay in the sandbox of envy, clutching our fears like toys.
"Let us not be desirous of vainglory, provoking one another, envying one another." (Gal. 5:26)