“Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking.”
The fourth virus afflicting spiritual health is envy. Envy means to be resentful or discontent. Jealousy simply seeks what others have. Envy goes beyond that. This person seeks to deprive others of what they have.
There is therefore a distinction between jealousy and envy in the Bible. Jealousy simply desires to have the same sort of thing for itself. Envy desires to deprive another of what he has. He carries a state of ill will toward someone because of some real or presumed advantage experienced by such a person.
So these two words are not synonymous. Jealousy makes us fear to lose what we possess; envy creates sorrow that others have what we have not. An evil sense always attaches to envy but not jealousy.
“Some indeed preach Christ even from envy and strife, and some also from good will” (Philippians 1:15).
Envy is also in the plural dealing with many types of envy. There are envies directed toward people, toward status symbols, about material things, etc.
Envy is the feeling of displeasure produced by witnessing or hearing of the advantage or prosperity of others (Matthew 27:18; Mark 15:10; Romans 1:29; Galatians 5:21; Philippians 1:15; 1 Timothy 6:4; Titus 3:3; 1 Peter 2:1; James 4:5).
Envy grieves over the good welfare of another, at their abilities, prosperity, fame or successful labors. An envious person has feelings of ill-will at hearing of the good fortune of others.
There are always those who, after a man has made his mark on the world, come with erasers. Envy is the enemy of happiness. Time spent in worry about the superior status or accomplishments of others is time wasted and encourages dissatisfaction. But you may say, “He gets all the breaks. Why do I not have what he has?” The Bible proclaims that God is faithful. If he is, why worry about what others have?
A mature Christian can rejoice at the success of others.
We think we need to elbow our way past our peers to get ahead. Do you turn green when someone else is praised? Does it give you a sick feeling in your stomach? It does not seem right to you that they should be praised. “Why were they elected and not me?” “Why should they receive that honor and not me?” “Why should people make such a fuss over them?”
Song of Solomon 8:6 says, “Jealousy as cruel as the grave.” We all know how cruel the grave can be. It does not care whether you are a baby or a mother. Envy grows to a point where cruelty is the name of the game.
Lawyers rarely envy doctors. Doctors rarely envy politicians. A preacher rarely envies an engineer. We envy those within our brotherhood or fraternity. Businessmen envy businessmen. Doctors envy doctors. Preachers envy preachers.
It is difficult to admit that we envy others. A dimension of spirituality is the ability to identify subjective sins that are more difficult to recognize. We need to say to the Lord, “I confess this envy. It is wrong. I have violated you, Lord. I have no right to feel like this. I confess it violates your person.” We will hardly find a day without these sins attempting to stick their ugly heads into our lives. We need to recognize and root them out quickly.