Envy and Relationships

There is a significant contrast in the way love and envy impact your relationships.   Love will deepen your relationships, but envy will destroy them.

“Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous, but who is able to stand before envy?”   (Proverbs 27:4)     Envy is worse than anger.   It will lead a person to be more vicious than anger will.   That is an incredible statement, but it’s true.   Envy, in it’s early stages, is not as noticeable to others as anger, but it will not remain that way for long.

The Bible speaks of those that have “bitter envying and strife in (their) hearts”   (James 3:14).   Envy leads to strife and conflict.   It is at the root of all sorts of wickedness – “…where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work”.   (James 3:16)

Do you argue with people regularly?   Envy leads to disputes while love defuses them.   The Bible speaks of those that use “…strifes of words, whereof cometh envy…”   (I Timothy 6:4).    Envy and division are related.   People do not want to be in an atmosphere characterized by constant bickering.    Yet, some grow up in homes like that and at the root of it is often jealousy.

The contrast of love and envy is seen in how David related to Jonathan and Saul.   Jonathan and David were the closest of friends (I Samuel 20:17).   Even though Jonathan, as the king’s son, was heir to the throne he willingly yielded that position to David.

David and Saul were close at one time, but after David killed the giant Goliath, King Saul’s insecurity made him jealous as the people honored David for his feat (I Samuel 18:6-9).   His jealousy led to envy and ultimately to attempted murder.

Jonathan loved David and rejoiced in his promotion, even at his own expense; Saul was envious of David and despised his promotion.    Jonathan and David’s relationship was strengthened and deepened; Saul and David’s relationship began to die.   Love and envy are not neutral in their results.

“Few men have the strength to honor a friend’s success without envy”, wrote Aeschylus.

Hoss, Melanie, Mom and myself at Orange Beach in 2010.

Hoss, Melanie, Mom and myself at Orange Beach in 2010.

Are you jealous of someone?   Your relationship will inevitably degenerate and become preoccupied with receiving rather than giving.   Envy destroys a relationship; love builds and strengthens a relationship.

It is impossible to love a person and be envious of them.   The Bible says, “Charity…envieth not”.   (I Corinthians 13:4)

Years ago someone in our church family had purchased a new, beautiful automobile.  They literally parked it as far away as they could from the church.    When I saw it I went to them and shared my excitement for God’s goodness to them.   The husband, who was a good friend, was very sheepish about it.   He felt people would be jealous and not glad for him.   The people that loved him were excited and grateful, not envious.    Love and envy do not reside in the same heart. 

I have known siblings that were jealous of each other that even carried over to adulthood.  If your brother has a better paying job than you, rejoice with him.   Don’t allow the poison of envy to destroy your love for him.   If your sister has healthier children than you, be grateful for her situation.   Envy is your problem, not God’s blessings on someone in your family. 

Perhaps today the Spirit of God is dealing with you about your resentment and preoccupation with someone in your life that has something you do not have.   Be mindful that where envy is present, love is absent.   And when you allow envy to linger, your relationship will soon die.  

About familyencouragement

Pastor of Friendship Baptist Church in Huntsville, Alabama. Married for 41 years with seven children and nine grandchildren.
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