Harms of Envy

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 :

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

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20 thoughts on “Harms of Envy

  1. I used to envy other people and now I know it was wrong. Since I stopped focusing on wanting what other people have I became much more happier. I also noticed, how people who envy me now, keep making negative comments about me and things which I own. I try not to pay much attention to that, but it’s annoying. 🙂

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    1. It’s hard not to be annoyed by people spreading negativity because they envy us, but I feel sorry for them too because they are wasting so much of their lives getting fixated on what they don’t have instead of appreciating and enjoying what they DO have.

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  2. Envy is definitely not good does not help creating positive vibes and hinders happiness. I chose not to envy anyone as it is not productive. Try to focus on other things and celebrate other successes so that they celebrate mine too.

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  3. I honestly don’t envy people too much but I have a sister who is very envious & has really been workin on it & she’s so much nicer to be around now!

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  4. I think it’s a natural feeling to be a bit envious of people. It has positive as well as negative connotations, for example it can motivate you to achieve a better well being. I have been guilty of being envious of people who have easier lives that my family. My son is autistic and non verbal so I am absolutely envious of people who can have conversations with their child, I’m not sure there will ever be a time where I am not jealous of the seemingly simple things in life I thought having a child would bring. However, being envious does not consume me. If it did, I would fail to see the beauty right before my eyes.

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    1. Very true. However, remember that everyone regardless of ability or any other identifying factor, is precious and can teach us something valuable about life. I am glad that you are able to see the beauty in your son, and I wish more of this world would too.

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