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“Envy of another man’s calling can work havoc in our own.”

Watchman Nee

Envy is a “painful or resentful awareness of an advantage enjoyed by another, joined with a desire to possess the same advantage.” The religious rulers were envious of Jesus; they were jealous of His wisdom, giftings, and the empowerment He possessed. They wanted what He had. Instead of rejoicing for those Jesus helped by the miracles He performed, they were offended by His great influence over the crowds.

In the natural, weeds need to be pulled out by their roots to prevent future growth and the same is true spiritually and emotionally. The roots of envy include pride, discontentment, insecurity, and shame – feeling inferior or inadequate. If I’m so focused on all that my friend possesses, I’ll discount what I have. When I don’t like who I am, I will want to be like someone else.

The effect of envy causes us to resent what others have which prevents us from receiving what they have to give us. We shoot ourselves in the foot, closing the door of our hearts to those we’re jealous of and then missing out on the benefits we could have received. Another product of envy is not appreciating what we already possess. Theologian Jean Vanier writes: “Envy comes from people’s ignorance of, or lack of belief in, their own gifts.” Proverbs 14:30 shows us when it’s all done and said, “A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.”

We can prevent envy from controlling us by choosing to prefer others and walking in humility (Philippians 2: 3-4). Our shame will disappear as we embrace the Lord’s grace and honor and begin to see ourselves as He sees us. Acceptance of and appreciation for how God created us, with all our strengths and weaknesses, protects us from jealousy taking root in our hearts and releases contentment (Psalm 139:14). Finding security in God’s beliefs about us, not in what others think or say, anchors our identity. Lastly, we’re shielded from jealousy when we bless those whom we may be tempted to envy.

We’re instructed in Proverbs 4:23 to make it a priority to guard our hearts. Do whatever you can to preserve your heart from becoming envious of others.

“Envy takes the joy, happiness, and contentment out of living.”

Billy Graham

Relevant Reflections:

1. Describe what has fueled jealousy within your heart? Repent of those roots of envy.

2. What has envy produced in your life?

3. How can you practically protect yourself from jealousy?

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