Bible Verses: Psalms 37:1, 73, Proverbs 3:31, 14:30, 23:17, 24:1,19; Ecclesiastes 4:4; Mark 7:22; Romans 1:29; I Corinthians 13:4; Galatians 5:21; Philippians 1:15; I Timothy 6:4; Titus 3:3; I Peter 2:1

Core Verse: “Be not envious of evil men, nor desire to be with them.” (Proverbs 24:1)

Understanding Envy:

It’s important to be able to take what you are feeling and boil it down to a word that is used in the Bible. When we take our problems and assign biblical words to them, then we will be able to find biblical solutions. Instead of just saying, I want what they have, we need to say, I am envious of them. Then we can go do chapter and verse and find out what God says about that.

Let’s start out by defining envy. Envy is defined as “painful or resentful awareness of an advantage enjoyed by another joined with a desire to possess the same advantage”. That’s a big way of saying that you believe someone else has it better and you want what they have.

It’s easy to want what other people have. I want their kind of money. They have cooler friends than I do. If only I could be as popular as that guy. It’s easy to fall into being envious of others.

Envy comes from a heart of discontentment. When we desire what someone else has, we are not happy and content with what we currently have. Many of the passages listed above encourage us not to be envious of evil men (Pr. 24:19). We would be envious of evil men, only if our heart is set on gaining worldly stuff. If money and fame are most important, then we will see that people who dedicate their lives toward that gain are very successful. If you are envious of the most famous person in the world, most likely it’s not going to be a strong follower of Christ. It’s going to be someone whose life’s goal is to be famous.

In Psalm 73, Asaph, starts out being envious of the wicked people that God allowed to have it all (Ps. 73:3). He then saw how his own pursuit of godliness brought hardship (Ps. 73:13-14). When he turned his eyes to God, he not only saw what will become of all wicked men (Ps. 73:27), but he saw how God is the one who can truly satisfy his needs (Ps. 73:25-26).

Envy is a fruit of an unbeliever (Gal. 5:21). We must pursue God and find our contentment in Him. We need to understand that when we envy what others have, we are saying to God that His plan for our life is not as good as our plan for our life. We diminish God and promote ourselves.

Let’s be like Asaph who finally said, “But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord God my refuge that I may tell of all your works.” (Ps. 73:28)

Other Resources on Envy: Faith Lafayette Blog on Envy, Discontentment by Lou Priolo, When People are Big and God is Small by Ed Welch, When I Don’t Desire God by John Piper