“Do not fret because of those who are evil or be envious of those who do wrong; for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away. Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” — Psalm 37:1-4 NIV
As human beings there is probably at least a few times in our life where we have been plagued by discontentment and insecurities caused by jealousy and envy. Fighting against these things can be tough especially when we face them on a daily basis.
However, we are not stuck in our jealousy or envy. We have hope and an escape from jealousy and envy. Through it all we are not alone. In order to understand how to defeat jealousy and envy in our lives, it’s important for us to understand them biblically.
In This Weekly Devotional:
- Jealousy vs. Envy: What’s the Difference?
- Why Does It Matter if We Feel Envious or Jealousy?
- Addressing the Root of Our Envy and Jealousy
- Jesus Is Enough
Jealousy vs. Envy: What’s the Difference?
“Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.” — Galatians 5:26 NIV
Although jealousy and envy are very similar, they are not the same thing. Envy is a feeling of discontentment or resentfulness or longing for someone else's possessions, qualities and situations. Envy is when we look at what someone else has and we think about it and want it. If we see something someone else has and think it is cool or worth pursuing, that is not necessarily wrong or a sin. However, envy comes into play when we become discontent or bitter with what we do or don’t have.
For example, if someone says, “That’s a cool car!” that doesn’t necessarily mean they are envying the driver or their car. However, saying “That’s a cool car. I really hate mine. It’s always causing problems. I just wish I had a car like that person. I’d be so much happier!” — this could be envy and come from a place of bitterness and resentment.
Jealousy is when we are protective or defensive of something that is ours or something that we feel could be ours. For example, we may be jealous in relationships. If our friend if spending more time with another person than us, it could cause jealousy. Or maybe we could be jealous if we think someone else wants our position at work or someone else is finding success professionally when we are not.
Sometimes envy and jealousy can go hand-in-hand in a situation or circumstance. No matter which one we are facing, we should equip ourselves so when the situation arises, we know how to handle our emotions and reactions.
Why Does It Matter if We Feel Envious or Jealousy?
“A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.” — Proverbs 14:30 NIV
So, why does it matter? Well, jealousy and envy can unfortunately lead to sin. Multiple times in the Bible we are warned to avoid them because they can harm us and those around us. Proverbs even tells us envy rots the bones. It should matter to us because it matters to God.
Jealousy and envy can also cause us pain. No one wants to be unhappy or discontent, but these feelings often result when we fall into the trap of jealousy and envy. The unfortunate truth is the chances are envy and jealousy will come up in our lives. This is when we get to choose which path to take. We can go down the path of bitterness and discontentment or we can take the path away from envy and jealousy and pursue peace.
Addressing the Root of Our Envy and Jealousy
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” — Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV
Sometimes we need to take a step back and ask ourselves what is the root of our envy and jealousy. Is there someone in particular we are struggling to love? Are we having trouble trusting God will take care of our needs? Do we have insecurities or fears that we are letting control our thoughts? Are we focused so much on finding happiness for ourselves that we are forgetting about gratitude and the good things in our lives?
Of course, it is normal to experience these emotions at some points in life. In some cases, jealousy can even be good. God even describes himself as jealous in scripture (Exodus 20:5). However, if we find ourselves stumbling through envy and jealousy and repeating patterns relating to them, we should definitely stop and examine our hearts to see what is causing us to return to these thoughts and feelings.
Jesus Is Enough
“His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” — 2 Peter 1:3 NIV
When we are in the midst of struggling with jealousy and envy, sometimes we need to shift our focus. We can turn our eyes off of ourselves, others, or any situation we are in and look toward Jesus and the ultimate outcome. He has given us what we truly need. We have his love and salvation, everything else we could possibly desire pales in comparison to this amazing gift.
Do you want a career where you can use your talents and skillsets to serve Jesus Christ? Consider earning a theology and ministry degree from Grand Canyon University (GCU). GCU’s College of Theology helps students to grow spiritually and develop a strong biblical foundation.
Approved by the local outreach coordinator of the Office of Spiritual Life on March 13, 2023.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.