I gave a little talk last night on envy, and I thought it might be interesting to post some of my notes here. It’s amazing to see how much envy invades our lives; more than I ever realized before I started studying it this past month. As one lady pointed out after our meeting, many of our tragedies in society – like Virginia Tech – stem from envy taken to its extreme. The root of envy is comparison. We determine our value, our self worth, the quality of our life, the amount and goodness of our blessings by comparison. Envy robs us of the abundant life God desires us to have. We miss out on how God has blessed us – with gifts, with relationships, with provision…and how He wants to use that to bring glory to Himself.
Simply put, the answer to envy is contentment. I’ve added a few thoughts below on how to practically address envy.
1) Repent. Acknowledge the emotion when it arises. Call it as it is. Confess it as sin, and pray to God.
James 3:14-16: But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. (NIV)
2) Remind yourself that God has given you every thing needed for your life.
2 Peter 1:3-4: …seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that you May become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.
Hebrews 13:20: And now, may the God of peace, who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, equip you with all you need for doing his will. May he produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ, all that is pleasing to him. (MSG)
3) Refocus your eyes on God, not yourself and those around you. Stop comparing yourself to others. Don’t miss out on what God has blessed you with because you’re busy concentrating on the blessings of others.
Galatians 6:4-5: Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, for each one should carry his own load. (NIV)
4) Rejoice. Befriend your rival. Try to see him or her as a person, not the competition. Celebrate success with them; it’s not about winning and losing – it’s about advancing the Kingdom…and any advance is worth celebrating.
Luke 15:7: I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent. (NIV)
5) React. It might be to pray or memorize a verse. It might be to plan ahead in instances when you can. Maybe it’s to establish an accountability partner or confess your envy to the person you envy.
Proverbs 14:30: A sound heart is life to the body, But envy is rottenness to the bones. (NKJV)
Any tips to add on how to deal with envy? I’d love to hear them.