Envy and/or Jealousy

Jonathan

Well-Known Member
Everyone, not just Christians, throw a lot of words around often without a universally agreed on definition. "Fornication" is one of them, for example. (Is it possible to Fornicate with your wife?)

So, I have a question. Biblically, how would you best define "Envy" or "Jealously?"

One of my best friends has built a very successful business over the last decade or so and as a result of his dedication, talent, and his wife (Seriously, it wouldn't have been possible without her), they are VERY financially secure. Whenever I think about his success, I smile and actually feel really warm and happy inside. The fact he is doing well and is happy makes me happy. My sentiment is as simple as that, period. It really is.

However, and this is why I am asking the question, is it Envy or Jealousy for me to also desire similar success for myself? If not, then what exactly differentiates the two sentiments?

My own view of it, which is speculative and ungrounded, is that the difference has to do with your emotional feelings towards the person with the success you desire. In other words, if you resent someone because they have what you would like to have, that is Envy and Jealousy. But if you want what they have (not the EXACT thing they have like THEIR car or THEIR wife) without any negative emotions towards the person, it doesn't seem wrong.

With all that said, what do you think is the proper definition of Envy/Jealousy?
 

GoldenEagle

Well-Known Member
I think it comes down to attitude.
What you’ve described yourself as feeling and desiring sounds to me as coming from a right heart.
The times I’ve felt what I would call envy and jealousy - I’ve been very aware it’s been coming from my flesh/old nature. Something dark in me rose up - there was a sense of destruction - and totally selfish - all about me, myself and I, with no submission to God about it or care for anyone else.
Also, the bible says God gives us the desires of our heart - but that comes through knowing Him, spending time in his Word and diligently seeking his will for our lives. The desires He gives us/ wants to give us, will ultimately not only be a blessing to us but to others through us and bring praise and glory to Him.
 

Matthew6:33

Withstand in the evil day. Eph 6:13
Envy/jealousy was what Lucifer felt toward God. He foolishly wanted God's glory for himself.

13 For you have said in your heart: 'I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation On the farthest sides of the north;
14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.' [Isaiah 14:13-14 NKJV]
 

Salluz

Aspiring Man of God
I've come to understand that jealousy and envy are two different things, envy I think being related to covetousness. Jealousy though is wanting what is yours to stay what is yours. We are commanded against covetousness, but God Himself is a jealous God. He even baked it into the ten commandments where He condemns coveting

Exodus 20:

4 “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God

17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor
 

JamesSuth

Well-Known Member
I think you are right, it is about attitude. I recently saw someone posting pics from their job - driving HST trains on the UK railway and I felt envy (which I realise may not be envy inducing in most people :laugh ), and I repented and said sorry almost immediately to God because I knew that was wrong. On the other hand I can feel warmth and joy when I see people in jobs they love, with amazing finances, or with great homes, marriages or such like. Occasionally, I aspire to do something similar, other times not, although I still like that others are blessed in a way they enjoy. I would say that isn't envy it is just taking encouragement from what others have done. Some people see an athlete they really admire, and aspire to be like them and go off and train to that end. Again may not have any envy attached, it is just taking encouragement from someone else' story.
 

RobinB

Well-Known Member
Writers can experience professional jealousy, especially when they see others achieving the things they want == publication, book signings, etc. They can be happy for their writer friends and still experience feeling that they want that for themselves too. And I agree it's about attitude-- if you can learn to be happy for others' success, it can then spur you on to work harder to achieve the same.

The biggest lesson for me - Writer A's success does not take anything away from me. The only one I have to compete with is myself.
 

Wings Like Eagles

Well-Known Member
Everyone, not just Christians, throw a lot of words around often without a universally agreed on definition. "Fornication" is one of them, for example. (Is it possible to Fornicate with your wife?)

So, I have a question. Biblically, how would you best define "Envy" or "Jealously?"

One of my best friends has built a very successful business over the last decade or so and as a result of his dedication, talent, and his wife (Seriously, it wouldn't have been possible without her), they are VERY financially secure. Whenever I think about his success, I smile and actually feel really warm and happy inside. The fact he is doing well and is happy makes me happy. My sentiment is as simple as that, period. It really is.

However, and this is why I am asking the question, is it Envy or Jealousy for me to also desire similar success for myself? If not, then what exactly differentiates the two sentiments?

My own view of it, which is speculative and ungrounded, is that the difference has to do with your emotional feelings towards the person with the success you desire. In other words, if you resent someone because they have what you would like to have, that is Envy and Jealousy. But if you want what they have (not the EXACT thing they have like THEIR car or THEIR wife) without any negative emotions towards the person, it doesn't seem wrong.

With all that said, what do you think is the proper definition of Envy/Jealousy?
Admiration (which is not sin) is not the same thing as envy (which usually has some sinful aspect to it) and only we know when the line has been crossed. Envy could be quite destructive in some circumstances. That having been said, it is quite likely true that envy/covetousness is more of a temptation for some, than for others. We all have our own moral weaknesses and it is nearly certain that Satan or his disciples are aware of every single one. Sin directs its attention to tempting where we are weak. That's the bad news about the nature of humans.

But, the Bible tells us in 1 Corinthians 10:13, that God will not allow us to be tempted/tested beyond that which we can stand. We rely on His Holy Spirit to keep us from giving in to temptation--even though sometimes, we unwisely stray down the road where we can be ambushed. There was this great "Cathi" cartoon a few years back (I hope I'm remembering this correctly) where she was outside the door of a food store, noting the signs announcing that the Halloween candy was on sale. She resolutely said, "I'll go in the store, but I won't go down the candy aisle." Then, she said, "Well, maybe I'll go down the candy aisle, but I won't buy any candy." Then, "Well, maybe I'll buy some candy, but I won't open it." "...I could open it...to check whether it is okay..." Finally, a picture of Cathi stuffing her face, " *eat, eat, eat, eat, eat* " One of the best renderings of the path of temptation that I have ever seen.:D A light-hearted look at common human experience. But, the deadly aspects can be seen played out in the biblical narrative:

Cain undoubtedly felt envy about Abel's sacrifice being accepted, while his was not. The text notes that this made Cain very angry, even though God told him that if he did a proper sacrifice, he would be accepted. God then warned that if Cain refused to do what is right, he should beware. He gave a final warning to Cain, "...sin is crouching at your door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master." It is easy to see that Cain likely became enraged because, in addition to being envious, his pride was provoked by the reproof. Unrighteous, extreme anger is rage--a blind, irrational desire to destroy someone we feel is taking the glory that should be ours--likely the sin of Satan himself. Satan has not changed any of his tactics toward humans either, in his seeking to inspire us to be like him. He uses the temptations of the world (worldly riches and splendor); the flesh (hedonistic pleasure with little restraint) and the "pride of life".

One can see those same Satanic temptations operating in Acts 7. Stephen gives his outstanding sermon and accuses the Jewish religious authorities of resisting the Holy Spirit (and thus, refusing to repent). The enraged Jewish authorities drag Stephen outside the city and and murder him by stoning. The ugliness of human pride on full display. Envy/covetousness has a strong element of pride.
 
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