She seemed to have it all.
You know what I mean. She (I’ll call her Carly) was obviously gifted. She could play music by ear and sing like a professional. Her hair was wavy and golden, her smile was contagious, and her laugh was obnoxiously perfect.
For a time, Carly and I were friends. But our schedules changed, and so did our lives. We went our separate ways, but whenever I had the occasional encounter with her after that, these ugly feelings crept inside my heart and made me feel uncomfortable around her. Just the sound of her voice irritated me for some reason.
Why could she play the piano so well? Why was she so tall and thin? Why did everyone pay attention to her when she spoke?
There are guys like this, too. I know one myself. (I’ll call him Darren.)
Darren is a talented athlete. He’s popular, handsome, and charming.
I’m sure some of the guys who know him wonder: Why does he throw so well and run so fast? How come he has countless friends and a girlfriend? Why does everyone want to be around him?
We all have at least one Carly and one Darren in our lives (although we probably have several). They just seem to have it all—talents, looks, success, friends, etc. And when someone seems to have it all, it’s easy to become green with envy.
Why beat around the bush? When you become envious, you are in the exact place that Satan wants you. He wants you to be frustrated and unhappy. He wants you to be unsatisfied. And envy, in a word, is being unsatisfied.
According to Vocabulary.com, jealousy is the “unpleasant emotion you feel when you think someone’s trying to take what’s yours”; but envy is “wanting what someone else has and resenting them for having it.”
You know you’re envious when you start complaining and whining—whether mentally or verbally. (“Why can she shoot hoops like that, and I can’t? Why does he have to be so tall and muscular, but I feel like a shrimp? How come they have so many friends, and I only have a few?”)
Then resentment arises. (“She is just so obnoxious. Man, I hate his guts. Can they just leave already? Why do I have to be around him?”)
Of course, sometimes we just see something desirable. There is a fine line between seeing something you want and becoming envious. If you see your friend walking around with a pretty new hairstyle and think, “Wow, I’d like to try that with my hair,” you haven’t envied. No biggie. But, if you think,” Wow, I’d like to try that with my hair. It looks so nice in her hair…but she doesn’t pull it off as well as I could,” then you have envied.
Envy isn’t rocket science, but Christians like to pretend it is. In reality, the Bible groups envy with serious sins like hate, hypocrisy, and drunkenness. Yikes! Envy isn’t just thinking a few harmless thoughts. Envy is dwelling on what you don’t have and resenting the person who has it.
Once it enters your thoughts, it enters your actions.
After all, have you ever liked someone who you envied? Probably not. At least I never have. If I am envious of someone, I want to avoid them.
But that’s not what God desires for us.
Let’s not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another. (Galatians 5:26 NASB)
Whether we envy in our heads or our deeds, it is sin. You don’t have to say an envious thought aloud for it to “count” as a sin.
Envy displeases God because it produces ungratefulness and strife between people. We are supposed to get along with other believers. If you hate the fact that a fellow church member has a three-story house, perfectly-behaved kids, a well-paying job, a big group of friends, or a talent that you don’t have, you probably won’t get along with him or her very well.
My suggestions are simple:
- Be grateful for what you have because you have it for a reason. God didn’t randomly decide to provide you with food, clothes, and shelter for the day. He blessed you with those things, and every other good thing in your life, so thank Him!
- Genuinely try to celebrate others’ looks, talents, and achievements. For example, compliment your friend when she wears a beautiful dress to church. Congratulate your co-worker when he gets the promotion you wanted. Clap extra hard when your sister scores a goal at her soccer game.
- To eliminate the envy that is currently residing in your heart, pray for God to remove it. This process will take time and effort, but never forget that He is strong enough to satisfy your heart.