When envy takes root in our hearts, it leads us down a dark road of outwardly looking proper and respectable as a Christian while harbouring evil poison inside. Believe me, I have experienced first-hand the way envy can negatively affect my relationship with God and others.
If I tried to keep track of how many times in a week I compare myself to someone else, I think I would quickly lose count. It feels so ingrained that it almost happens as a reflex. For a while I wasn’t even conscious of it, it was so entrenched in my thought patterns.
A stranger walks past with gorgeous hair and flawless skin. I think to myself: I wish I looked like her.
A friend is describing their recent overseas trip. If only I could go on a holiday like that.
A person at church is sharing how God is at work in their life. I wish I were as godly as them.
Sometimes society even encourages us to think this way. Advertising tries to make us unhappy with the status quo and desire what we don’t have. If you’re bored with your life, then buy this car—your family will be as fun and adventurous as your neighbours! If you want to look as good as this model, then buy these clothes—you will magically look thin and fabulous! It is supposedly ‘aspirational’, but really it serves to make us feel inadequate, and feeds the sin inside us.
As Christians, this can be dangerous. When envy takes root in our hearts, it leads us down a dark road of outwardly looking proper and respectable as a Christian while harbouring evil poison inside. Believe me, I have experienced first-hand the way envy can negatively affect my relationship with God and others.
Proverbs 14:30 says, “A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot”. This is because envy has a way of spiraling your heart into a pit of bitterness. Like the spread of toxic spores, it can lead to other sins, such as discontentment, ungratefulness, judgement, malice and slander. James 3:16 says, “For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice”.
There are many examples of people in the Bible whose envy is plain to see, and the consequences are never pretty. Cain was envious of God’s favourable response to his brother Abel’s sacrifice, and killed him out of anger (Gen 4). Saul’s envy of David’s success and anointing from God led him to try to kill David (1 Sam 18). For a milder example, the elder brother of the prodigal son was quick to complain about the special treatment and celebration that their father gave to his younger brother. He chose to stew in bitterness (Luke 15:28-30).