How to Overcome Envy with God
Let’s be honest, many of us have suffered at the hands of envy. For some of us, we secretly compare ourselves to other women wishing we obtained what they have. While some of us are verbal about wanting to have a certain body shape, career, family, or even type of husband.
It’s so easy nowadays to become envious, especially since social media is the highlight reel of people’s lives. We view their highlight reel and long to have what they portray on their social media platforms. However, we must remember that highlight reels don’t represent everyday life.
The envy you feel may simply be based on a highlight reel, when in reality their life may be far from the image and/or video they posted. If we’re not careful, envy will begin to overtake our lives and we will live a life without contentment. Furthermore, we will constantly try to measure up to what we desire and never be content with what God has given us.
Throughout the Bible, we find examples of envy and how it can have a negative impact on those who allow this sinful characteristic to take hold of their lives. Let’s dive into some of the story of Joseph and his brothers, and how envy will not only affect you but those who are involved.
When we read in Genesis chapter 37, it’s very clear that the brothers of Joseph were envious of him. The envy inside their heart grew and ultimately lead them to create a plan to kill him.
What Does The Bible Say?
Genesis 37: 3-11 New International Version (NIV) reads:
Now Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other sons, because he had been born to him in his old age; and he made an ornate[a] robe for him. When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him.
Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more. He said to them, “Listen to this dream I had: We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it.”
His brothers said to him, “Do you intend to reign over us? Will you actually rule us?” And they hated him all the more because of his dream and what he had said.
Then he had another dream, and he told it to his brothers. “Listen,” he said, “I had another dream, and this time the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.”
When he told his father as well as his brothers, his father rebuked him and said, “What is this dream you had? Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow down to the ground before you?” His brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the matter in mind. “
Then in verse 19-20:
“Here comes that dreamer!” they said to each other. “Come now, let’s kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns and say that a ferocious animal devoured him. Then we’ll see what comes of his dreams.
When Reuben heard this, he tried to rescue him from their hands. “Let’s not take his life,” he said. “Don’t shed any blood. Throw him into this cistern here in the wilderness, but don’t lay a hand on him.” Reuben said this to rescue him from them and take him back to his father.”
If you read the remaining of the chapter, you will see that instead of killing Joseph they sold him. When we’re envious, we will travel down roads we never imagined and disobey God’s Word in the “name of” receiving something we desire.
Remember These 3 Truths
It’s imperative to evaluate your heart when you find yourself becoming envious of what you believe you lack. God’s Word says in Philippians 4: 19 in the (NIV), “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.”
God tells us that He will provide for our needs. Many times we become envious of other people because it’s something we want not necessarily something we need. For example, a brand new car, a bigger home, a particular job, or those red bottom shoes we see our friend wearing.
Check Your Pulse Moment: It’s in our idea of lack, that we begin to long for something we think we need. When you begin to compare and long for something you don’t obtain, it’s time for a heart check with God.
Envy is a dangerous trap and you have to be on alert to ensure that you don’t fall into it. If you have fallen into the trap, here are 3 truths that can help you combat envy in your life:
1. Love Does Not Envy
The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 13:4 in the (NIV), “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.”
Love does not envy. When we love people the way God commands us to, we will not be envious of who they are nor what they have. Instead, we will rejoice with them. Let’s say your best friend receives a promotion on her job that allows her to afford a trip that you’ve been dreaming of taking for years. Instead of being resentful or jealous, you can rejoice with your friend for their promotion. That’s love.
Godly love does not promote envy. Love does not envy.
2. Contentment Trumps Discontent
Contentment is biblical and God speaks about it in His Word. In a society that constantly promotes the next best thing, so to speak, it’s easy to get caught up in desiring the latest stuff. Now, I’m not applying that having nice things is a bad thing. What we must be careful that we don’t allow the things of this world to cause us to not be content with what we have.
The Bible says in 1 Timothy 6:6-11 (NIV):
“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”
When we’re content, it trumps envy. In order to live a fulfilled life, you have to learn to be content. Envy does not have permission to reside in your life when contentment is present.
3. Thankfulness Cultivates a Satisfied Heart
Thankfulness fuels a satisfied heart. When we’re thankful instead of ungrateful, there’s no room for us to be envious. I know at times it can be difficult to be thankful, especially in the rough seasons of our lives. However, being thankful despite difficult and uncertain times helps you focus on what you have rather than what you don’t obtain.
We’re commanded in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you,” King James Version (KJV). No matter what type of season you’re in, being thankful is a lifestyle.
Are you content with your life, or do you often find yourself being envious of what you don’t have? Has envy taken control of your life and your joy?
Today, I encourage you to evaluate your heart according to His Word. Ask Him what areas in your life do you need to learn to be content rather than envious.
Decide to live a life that is content.