I used to be envious of my brother because I felt he was the best in almost everything, while I always fell short of my goals. After I got over my envy of my brother, I began to be envious of people who were happily married and had children, because I wanted a family for myself, but I have remained single for a very long time. I didn’t wish them any harm or anything, but I didn’t really like celebrating with them either.
However, over the past five years, I have discovered that all the time that I spent being jealous could have been used to better myself and to focus more on the mission that God had called me to accomplish. I strived to stop playing the comparison game. I became more content with where God has placed me. I learned how to value and to use the gifts that God had already given to me, instead of looking to have what He didn’t give me.
Simply put; envy does more harm than good, not only in our relationships to each other, but also for our own personal growth as people. Here is why I believe envy is harmful :
- Envy creates strife and separates people.—During my devotional time, in the Book of 1 Kings (the Bible), I have been reading about the relationship between King (at the time) Saul and David, who would eventually replace him as king of Israel. Saul initially becomes envious of David because of how much more successful and popular he was becoming compared to Saul. Instead of reflecting on why he was jealous or what he could do to change, Saul becomes more and more enraged at David, even plotting to kill him on more than one occasion. Because Saul’s son, Jonathan, becomes friends with David, Saul wants to kill him too! In my own life, I have witnessed envy creating strife more times than I dare to recall. For instance, I know people that are so envious of one of my friends that they a.) only talk to complain about work-related things or b.) actually go out of their way to try to hurt my friend. Also, when I was envious of my brother, I didn’t really take the time to get to know his struggles and hard work he had to put in to get to where he is today. Envy creates strife and can separate even family.
- Envy stunts our growth as people.—When we are jealous of someone, our emotional and spiritual growth as people gets stunted. For instance, if someone were jealous of me for accomplishing more things than they did at my job, this person would not be open to learning how I did what I did, or learning about how much sacrifice and hard work it took for me to get there. All they would be interested in is dragging me down or to seethe in their anger and pain of not getting the results they wanted. This is what happens when any one of us, including me, are jealous of someone else—whether it be envy of their possessions, abilities, or other blessings or gifts that they have, but we don’t. When we are envious, not only does our learning stop, but envy also hurts our ability to change for the better. For example, because Saul was so obsessed with bringing down David, he failed to look in the mirror and begin the hard work of not being so rash and impatient with God and others.
- Envy is a waste of time.—For the past five years, I have learned more and more how much of a waste of time being envious of someone really is. Speaking from my own experiences, I wish the time that I had spent being jealous of others would have been better used to bless others and improve myself. Envy consumes you with bad thoughts of the other person. Sometimes, this consumption is so complete that there isn’t any room for anything else. For instance, King Saul was so envious of David that his life was consumed with chasing David and wanting him dead. What a waste of time!
We would serve others and ourselves better if we could get rid of any trace of envy we have for another. Envy is often the start of such vices as prejudice, murder, and other violent acts. Envy is harmful because it separates people, including family and close friends, stunts our growth as people, and is a colossal waste of time. Who are you tempted to envy? Let us instead try to learn from the people we envy and be content with what we are given, because everyone can contribute something valuable to this world.