I have often heard people compliment others with the phrase, “I envy you.” In fact, very rarely have I ever heard anyone use the word envy in a negative context. So it begs the question, if the Bible says, “love doesn’t envy,” then why? What’s wrong with envy?”
My copy of Merriam-Webster’s dictionary lists the definition of envy as a “painful or resentful awareness of an advantage enjoyed by another joined with a desire to possess the same advantage.”
Looking at this definition, I can see that it may still be difficult to see what’s wrong with it. After all, isn’t this the American way? When you look at what defines us as Americans, isn’t this desire at the very core of our lives? This desire is what fuels our consumerism. We want what others have and we can get it ourselves for just $9.99. Right? So what’s wrong with it?
Their Best Is Not Your Best
If you are a Christian like I am, then you probably believe that God has a plan for your life. The Bible says that God knows his plans for us (Jeremiah 29:11). When we envy other people and desire the advantages they have, be it wealth, power, popularity, etc, then we have stepped out of God’s will and His plan for our lives. By desiring the best that someone else has, we prevent God’s best from manifesting in our own lives.
Envy Devalues Kindness
Another very serious problem with envy is that when we envy what others have, we devalue what we have. Second on the famous “Love Is” list is kindness. Love is kind! And if you have been following this blog, you know that kindness is when we give what has not been earned or is undeserved. But when we envy, we tend to feel as if we have nothing of value to give.
I made a discovery about a year ago. I realized that “love doesn’t envy” stated in the converse is “love knows its own worth.” When we look at it that way, it’s easy to see that envy prevents us from being kind and generous to others. When we envy, we are saying that what we posses is of little value and we assume that no one would benefit from what we have to give.
Know Your Worth
I believe that it is far easier to do something than it is to not do something. People are more successful at stopping a habit if they replace that habit with a new one. A good example of this is smokers who chew gum to help them quit smoking. In the same spirit, I feel that it’s better to try to know your own worth than to try to stop envying. As my pastor, Don Nordon put it in a few different sermons, you can’t focus on Christ if you are always focused on the problem.
If you don’t know this already, God loves you just the way you are. For most Christians, this is the essence of our self worth. We have worth because God values us and He has given us each something that makes us unique. When you come to understand how much God values you, then you will stop envying others and open the pathway in your heart toward being more generous and kind to the people God places in your life.