We’ve all heard stories about people who have been the victims of other people’s unjustified rage. They usually express their hatred for others through spite, betrayal, or even murder. And when you examine the situation to see where it all started, most of the time it can be traced back to one party being envious of the other – if I can’t have you, or what you have, then violence is what you get, as shown in the true story of Cain and Abel.
Cain was envious of his brother, Abel, because God accepted Abel’s offerings but rejected Cain’s. Then he became upset, which prompted God to ask Cain a question. “Why are you angry and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it.” (Genesis 4:6-7, ESV)
Envy, according to Aristotle, is pain at the sight of another’s good fortune, triggered by “those who have what we ought to have.” When we think of envy or jealousy, we usually associate it with “horrible” people. It can, however, happen to anyone and unexpectedly. Envy arises from dissatisfaction, which is why the bible (I believe) teaches a lot about contentment. In Philippians 4:11, Paul says, “…for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.”
As such, if you are dissatisfied with your life, finding someone who has what you desire is a breeding ground for envy and all sorts of evil to occur if you do not rule over it, as God advised Cain. James 3:16 puts it this way, “For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.”
Some of you may argue that we’ve heard everything you’ve got to say on the subject, and we even believe that envy is sinful; however, we need real-life examples of people who were once envious but overcame it.
How I Overcame Envy
Envy was something that found me when I was living a dissatisfied life. I was on fire for God and spent almost every waking moment with Him, mostly through Bible study, sermon listening, church service, and listening to worship songs. At the same time, I had a long list of things in which I hoped God would intervene. I felt that because I was no longer fornicating or in a relationship that was distracting me from Him, He was obligated to answer all my prayers – exactly how I wanted them answered.
God, I need a husband, God, I need a job that will allow me to stay in America permanently. God, I need this, I need that. Nonetheless, it was as if God had misidentified me as someone else. Someone else was getting the results of the things I was praying for. “Hello! God! I thought you were all-knowing or all-powerful; I am the one asking for these favors, not her,” I said to myself.
However, the blessings I wanted, did not come, and it left me distraught.
As a result, I became envious of her; I didn’t want to hear her talk about her new opportunities, and because of her personality, she rubbed them in like massage oil on the body. “Can we discuss something else?” In my mind’s eye, I often said. As previously stated, envy stems from a lack of contentment in one’s own life. When you are unhappy with the way your life is going, when you are dissatisfied with what you have, and when you are unsure of your purpose, you begin to covet the life of others, particularly those who have what you desire.
In this season of life, I’m learning that we are all equal in God’s eyes. It makes no difference if you are poor or wealthy, beautiful, or ugly (whatever that means), a king or damsel in distress – sin has leveled the playing field for everyone in that we are all in need of a savior, and it is that savior who gives each human their worth. Not their job title, physical appearance, or marital status. When we realize that person A is not better than person B, we can live a more contented life and stop envying what others have.
My perspective on life changed when I discovered who I am in Christ and began walking in it. I saw my gifts come to life, and it made me appreciate God even more. It didn’t make me any less valuable because I did not have what my friend had. Another reason I believe this issue arises frequently is that we place too much value on the wrong things. It is good to have a good job and desire good things; however, the worth of our lives is not based on the life we can create for ourselves here on earth; rather, it is found in Christ. And once you realize that it will be difficult for you to be envious of others or covet their lifestyle.
Evi Idoghor is a Christian, writer, content creator, and a graduate of chemical engineering from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Consumed by her love for writing and desire to effect change, she launched her online platform letstalknationblog.com in 2018 to tap into her creativity and start meaningful conversations with one goal in mind—to redefine status quo.