In Genesis 37 there is a story of envy that caused pain and suffering for everyone concerned. The story is of how Jacob loved Joseph more than any of his other sons– “because he had been born to him in his old age.” The story does not say that Jacob did not love his other sons, just that he loved Joseph more. This favoritism became painfully obvious when he gave Joseph a richly ornamented robe. Joseph’s brothers envied the special relationship with his father and became jealous of the special gift. The Bible says that they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him.
They hated him so much that they threw him into a pit with murderous intent, sold him into slavery and told their father that he had been killed, causing Jacob intense grief for many years.
Jesus talks about envy in Mark 7:20 – 23. He was teaching the Pharisees about what makes a person ‘unclean’ (A person who was unclean could not enter the temple. He couldn’t approach God or anyone else who was ‘clean.’)
Jesus said that uncleanness or cleanliness isn’t about what religious traditions and formalities are followed or neglected, but rather about what is in their hearts. If you are thinking that being envious seems like a small sin, notice that Jesus included it along with sexual immorality, theft, murder, slander and adultery as the things that make a person ‘unclean’ to God.
James tells us that if you harbor bitter envy you are not to boast about it or deny the truth.
He says that where there is envy and selfish ambition, there will be disorder and every evil practice. James 3:13 – 4:10
James gives some advice on how to get rid of envy.
- Submit yourselves to God . – “Father, I am yours. I accept Your judgment of who I am.”
- Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. – Recognize when envy starts to enter your mind and turn you thoughts to your Creator for guidance.
- Come near to God and He will come near to you.- See above.
- Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. – Admit it and Repent: Try to see envy as God sees it.
Humble yourselves before the Lord and He will lift you up.”Humble –
1. Having a feeling of insignificance, inferiority subservience, etc
2. low in rank importance,
3. to lower in condition, importance or dignity
Recognise that you are small and low in rank before God. You can’t make yourself better without Him. Let Him lift you up.
As another cure for envy, look at yourself through God’s eyes – uniquely and wonderfully made. You are a child of God, saved by grace and placed in the exact spot and circumstance the He planned for you. Psalm 139:13-16
How can you wish for more?