Envy’s children

I’ve been thinking about envy. More specifically, I’ve become sensitized to envy in my own heart and its destructive outcomes. I’d like to say that I am nothing but happy for others in their success, but that wouldn’t always be true. I’m seeking to learn why I envy and how to avoid it.

First, let’s define envy.

Envy is a state where you experience yourself as lacking something that will lead you to be admired as much as you secretly admire the person who has the desired attribute or possession you envy. [1]

Second, let’s understand that God does not desire this state of mind for us. It hurts us. God lists it in His top 10 behaviors to avoid. It is number 10 of His 10 commandments. It must be quite a big deal.

“You must not covet your neighbor’s house. You must not covet your neighbor’s wife, male or female servant, ox or donkey, or anything else that belongs to your neighbor.” (Exodus 20:17)

When we covet (really, really want something that is not ours), we voluntarily give up the peace we have through gratitude for what God has given us in order to become a slave to envy. That’s a bad trade and it is based in inappropriate comparison. We must not

God does not leave us with only a command to avoid envy, though. He gives us a living, breathing example through Israel’s first king, Saul.

Saul had a great start to his journey. 1 Samuel 9:2 tells us that “Saul was the most handsome man in Israel—head and shoulders taller than anyone else in the land.” In verse 16 God tells Samuel to anoint him “to be the leader of my people, Israel. He will rescue them from the Philistines”.

We see envy enter his heart in 1 Samuel 18. Eventually, he loses everything.

6 When the victorious Israelite army was returning home after David had killed the Philistine, women from all the towns of Israel came out to meet King Saul. They sang and danced for joy with tambourines and cymbals. 7 This was their song:

“Saul has killed his thousands,
and David his ten thousands!”
8 This made Saul very angry. “What’s this?” he said. “They credit David with ten thousands and me with only thousands. Next they’ll be making him their king!” 9 So from that time on Saul kept a jealous eye on David.

Look at what grows from this seed of envy.

  1. Verses 10-11, But Saul had a spear in his hand, and he suddenly hurled it at David, intending to pin him to the wall.
  2. Verse 12, Saul was then afraid of David.
  3. Verse 13, Saul sent him away.

These are envy’s children.

  1. Hatred and murder, if not a spear then words or actions that devalue and minimize the person who has what you want
  2. Fear that you are not enough
  3. Isolation and separation.

These destructive behaviors are not for us. God loves you too much to leave you in envy. Choose gratitude. Embrace contentment in God’s plans for you.

Peace to you beloved.

[1] https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/intense-emotions-and-strong-feelings/201307/jealousy-and-envy-the-emotions-comparison-and




About Tony Schmitz

Tony Schmitz received his BS in Mechanical Engineering from Temple University in 1993, his MS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Florida in 1996, and his PhD in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Florida in 1999. He is a mechanical engineering professor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
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