Coveting wants what someone else has. Envy resents the person who has what you wish you had (possessions, qualities or achievements). Envy is covetousness that gets personal.
Envy taken to the next level plots to take away what you want from the person you resent–their success, position, respect, etc. It’s the attitude, “If I can’t have it, neither can you.”
James 3:16 teaches, “where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.”
Envy allowed to fully metastasize attempts to destroy the one envied, usually by character assassination, but sometimes even murder. It’s why Cain killed his brother. And why Joseph’s brothers nearly killed Joseph before selling him into slavery. Notice both of these instances of envy on steroids were with siblings!
Envy is also self destructive. Proverbs 14:30 warns, “envy rots the bones.” Not an obvious skin rash, but a deep hidden rottenness.
Envy will eat away your joy, misdirect your focus, and waste your energy.
If you want to rid yourself of the rotten resenting of another’s giftedness, looks, or possessions:
- Pray for their ongoing success.
- Compliment them behind their back.
- Humbly learn from them.
Not easy! But it roots out the rot.
I have many personal battles, but envy is not one of them. If you’re like me and don’t struggle with envy, you will be baffled by “friendly fire” and knives in the back by those thought to be loyal friends, having no idea why they would slander and make alliances intent on your ruination. If you rejoice in another’s success, you cannot comprehend the vicious attacks of envy.
So when totally baffled by betrayal consider the motive may be envy of your success. Be alert, not naive or paranoid, seeing envy as a deadly backhanded compliment.
When the object of envy, consider Jesus. The religious leaders envied Jesus’ popularity. And the Lord harshly rebuked them for it! Envy eventually nailed Jesus to the cross. His enemies were motivated by this vicious evil, but a far greater good resulted.
Remember that greater good when crucified by the envious.