“I wish had had what she had.”
“If only I had more of what he has, I’ll be better.”
“How I wish I had more.”

I remember visited a relative. She was talking about how her daughter now has 3 cars and a nice house. While I was throughly satisfied and grateful for my life, it was interesting how envy started to creep in my heart wanting what my relative had.

Dr. Richard Smith of University of Kentucky published an article describing envy. According to him, “envy can be a destructive emotion both mentally and physically. Envious people tend to feel hostile, resentful, angry and irritable. Such individuals are also less likely to feel grateful about their positive traits and circumstances.” 

That was exactly how I felt – I started to feel ungrateful. Harold Coffin insightfully declared, “envy is the art of counting other people’s blessings instead of your own.”

If you sense that envy is beginning to take over, here are a few reminders:

1. Envy saps us of peace.

“A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.” (Proverbs 14:30)

Because we desire to have what we don’t have, we end up being dissatisfied. Dissatisfaction is one of the quickest ways to drain our hearts of peace.

2. Envy comes from within.

For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. (Mark 7:21-22)

The problem is not our environment but our hearts. Even if we shield ourselves from other people, the core of the concern is from within not without.

3. Envy does no good to us.

Proverbs 23:17-18 says, “Do not let your heart envy sinners, but always be zealous for the fear of the LORD. There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.”

What brings hope is the fear of the Lord. When we have Christ as center, we will be content and see that envy has no place in our hearts.

4. Envy has no place in the kingdom of God.

“Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Galatians 6:19-21)

As people who have been saved by grace through faith in Christ, the items in the list the Apostle Paul gives no longer has place in our hearts. Part of the list is envy. Because we have been saved, everything after salvation is bonus. Every thing we have is something we are to be grateful for.

5. Envy has no part in love.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.” (1 Corinthians 13:4)

Love rejoices in other’s victories and does not envy.

The next time envy knocks on the doorstep of your heart, you can:

– list down the things God has given you.

– shift your focus on what you don’t have to what you already have

– remind yourself that nobody has it all.

– stop comparing yourself to others.

– spend time with grateful people.

– celebrate the success of others.

– be generous