Over the past few studies, we’ve looked at various negative emotions and how they can cause us to be trapped in a type of prison which stops us living life to our greatest potential. We’ve looked at finding cures from the negative forces of pride, gluttony, anger and sloth. We will now be looking at the issue of envy and what we can do to be cured from this deadly sin that sometimes ensnares our lives.
Jealousy and envy are closely related. Definition It’s been said that, “Jealousy is a poison that I drink in the hope that the other person will die”. Webster’s dictionary defines jealousy as “Resentment or discontent against a rival or against seeing another’s success or advantage”. Jealousy is feeling threatened that someone will take what is yours. Envy is feeling resentful that someone has, or is getting, something that you want, or feel is more rightfully yours. Jealousy and envy are founded in me wanting what another person has, i.e., material possessions, power, recognition, or relationships. It’s when I want what you have or want to be who you are or want to do what you do. When I look at you, I feel like I am missing out on something .
Bible Proverbs 14:30 tells us that “envy rots the bones.”
Today’s English Version says “jealousy is like a cancer.”
Prov 27:4 KJV Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous; but who is able to stand before envy?How to be Cured from Envy
Sample Discussion Questions
- Step 1: Unmask the slippery little sucker
Recognise your jealousy that is hiding itself. Recognise it for what it is.
Envy likes to hide; it is a bit of a sneaky undercover agent. Envy rarely looks like envy on the surface. Usually, in Christians, it hides itself under a mask of Religious indignation. Remember Judas, when he criticized Mary for wasting expensive oil? In Matt 27:18 it says that Jesus was “arrested by the Jewish leaders out of envy because of his popularity with the people”. The Jewish leaders didn’t like the fact that Jesus was getting more attention than them, they were envious of his popularity. But rather than admit that they were envious, they hid behind their spiritual cloaks and attacked Jesus and criticized him with ‘trumpeted up religious charges’ ...He healed on the Sabbath, He didn’t observe all the Jewish laws and traditions and He forgave prostitutes. They put religious masks on what was pure jealousy. And unfortunately, many of us do exactly the same thing today. Rather than admit “I’m jealous of his position” or “I’m envious of her popularity” , we try to justify our negative feelings by manufacturing a spiritual fault or flaw. “He might be a strong leader, but don’t you think he’s a bit materialistic…have you seen his new car?” “She might be a great singer, but I just sense in my spirit that she’s not really genuine…She just seems a bit prideful & superficial to me, not really spiritual”.
- Step 2: Get your Eyes off Your Brothers and Sisters
Who are the ones we become envious of the most? It is not usually those who we do not see as equals to us it is rather those that are equals – our brothers and sisters. In the bible we read that Cain was jealous of Abel (and killed him), Sarah was jealous of Hagar, Jacob envied Esau (and stole his birthright and his blessing), Joseph’s brothers were envious of his big dream (and threw him in a pit), David’s brother was jealous of him visiting the battlefield and the older brother was envious of the attention given to the returned prodigal son.
The true test of jealousy is to ask: Can I be truly happy for my brother or sister when they are given what I want...When someone who is close to me - someone just like me - gets lifted up and given the honour or the prominence or the esteem that I would like. Or when they receive a greater reward for doing the very same thing I have been doing for years - Do I rejoice with them, or do I inwardly resent their blessing and wish it was me?
Matt 20:13-15 NIV
Didn't you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the man who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don't I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?
- Step 3: Do the opposite to what you feel
When we feel envious or jealous of someone, we usually want to be as far away from them as possible. We get that “Oh he’s here” feeling and we want to run. Envy seeks to isolate, it seeks to separate the brothers and sisters and cause division and dissention in the Body. That’s why we need to come at envy with an opposite spirit . Jesus constantly spoke about the power of overcoming evil through moving in an opposite spirit. In Luke 6:27-28 he said "Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you”. Paul likewise writes in Rom 12:21, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good”. When we feel jealous and envious, the quickest pathway out of our prison is to intentionally celebrate the other’s person’s blessing and success. We need to make an intentional effort to applaud their skills, rejoice in their good fortune, cheer their success and pray for continued blessing and increase. In short, we need to WALK IN LOVE. 1 Cor 13:4 says “Love does not envy” and the truth is that when we truly do love someone unconditionally, we don’t feel envious of their Blessings, WE REJOICE IN IT!
- “Jealousy is a poison that I drink in the hope that the other person will die”. Discuss.
- Describe some instances in your own life, or maybe one you have observed, when envy has tried to hide itself. How did this work out?
- Why do you feel it is those we are equals with that we become envious of rather than those we are not equal with? Give an example from your own life. What practical ways can we overcome this?
- Describe a time when you overcame jealousy by ‘coming in the opposite spirit’. Was this easy or difficult? What advice would you give to people wanting to put this key into action?
- Finish with prayer for one another that we may all walk in freedom from envy.