Rob Reimer, in his wonderful book, Soul Care, writes, “Envy starts with the question, ‘What about me?’ and ends with the accusation, ‘God isn’t fair.'”
Do you struggle with this self-centered question that then leads to the ultimate false accusation? Note how envy is completely selfish. It is all about what you think you deserve and how unfair God is to you because you feel He should give you more (or at least “different”). You look at how God is blessing others and you think you deserve better than they are receiving.
Of course, the key to being set free from envy is to understand God’s amazing grace. Grace is God’s “unmerited favor.” It is when He doesn’t give you what you deserve (separation from Himself because of your sin), but instead lavishes upon you blessings you would never deserve (life forever with Him). This is the Christian gospel – the God of this universe who should punish all of us because of our rebellion and sin, instead becomes a man like us to live the perfect life we could never live and die the death we deserved to die. “For our sake, he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:21 ESV
When we truly understand what we deserve, and what God offers instead (based on what Jesus has done for us), envy disappears. We no longer demand justice from God. Instead, we thank Him that He doesn’t give us what we deserve.
The Scriptures tell us a lot about envy:
A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot. Proverbs 14:30 ESV. How many of you have experienced this?
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant… 1 Corinthians 13:4 ESV. Note how this passage about God’s self-giving love implies that envy is anything but self-giving.
Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:19-23 ESV. Again, the life of selfish men is contrasted with the life of God, which is completely self-giving. Which category is “envy” in?
Here are a few tips to help you deal with envy:
- Be thankful! Always be thankful to God. Express your thanksgiving aloud. Thank Him for all He does for you.
- Be thankful – for the things you see in other’s lives that make you envious. Thank God, again aloud, for how He is blessing them.
- Pray for more of God’s blessings to be given to those you are envious of. If we are to pray for enemies, and bless those who persecute us, certainly we can bless those we are envious of. In our own selfishness we struggle with this, but as we are filled by the Spirit, His fruit and His life will enable us to be and do what we could never be and do on our own.