Envy – Jealousy

“. . . Godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.” ~ I Timothy 6:6-8

These two words, envy and jealousy, can destroy us if we allow them to. Envy and jealousy are often used interchangeably, but there is a slight difference in their meaning, even though they come from the same Hebrew word.

Envy appears 20 times in the KJV Bible. It has been defined as, “The desire to equal another in achievement, excellence, or possessions. Envy is one of the greatest enemies to maintaining contentment. Envy is always bad. It is the greedy desire to have what belongs to someone else. It can cause one to take drastic measures to get what others have."

The apostle Peter puts envy in the list of ungodly characteristics that should no longer be a part of one’s life who has become a believer in Christ Jesus. In his list of what unconditional, sacrificial love does and does not do, the apostle Paul said, “Love does not envy.”

As mentioned, jealousy has a different meaning than envy. Jealousy and jealous appear 53 times in the KJV Bible. Jealousy has been defined as, “The resistance to losing what one already has.” It has overtones of selfishness, suspicion, and distrust. It implies resentment or hostility.

At the beginning of the ten commandments, instructing the Children of Israel about idolatry, the Lord said, “I the Lord your God am a jealous God.” The Lord is eager to protect what is precious to Him. When jealousy is applied to God, it is usually because His people are worshiping idols, and there is the threat of losing their devotion to Him.

I have often heard a husband or wife say, “I’m not jealous of my wife, or I’m not jealous of my husband.” Truth is, a spouse should be jealous of his or her mate. Jealousy is an expression of how much one really cares about a person, especially in marriage. Marriage partners belong to each other.

Jealousy too, can cause one to take drastic measures to protect what belongs to them, especially when he/she feel they are about to lose someone they love. Jealousy is right when one is expressing an emotional characteristic that God has.

A mark of spiritual maturity enables one to appreciate how others have been blessed and what they have. It also enables one to appreciate and be content with how God has richly blessed them.

Reflections:

  • Look up Bible verses that speak about envy and heed the warnings.
  • Read Genesis 37 and see what jealousy caused Joseph’s brothers to do to him.
  • Take time to turn your attention from others achievements and what they have and appreciate more the blessings you have.