Do you know the difference between jealously, envy and coveting? It easy for me confuse the meanings of some words. If you’re like me let me explain the difference between each.
Jealous – the desire for something that is rightfully yours
The Bible says in many places that God is a jealous God. He is jealous for the affection, loyalty and worship of His people that are rightfully His. (Exodus 20:4-6, 34:12-15) You can see how the Bible Encyclopedia defines them:
“Envy is to be distinguished from jealousy. We are jealous of our own; we are envious of another’s possessions. Jealousy fears to lose what it has; envy is pained at seeing another have. (International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (c) 1996 by Biblesoft)
Envy is a form of coveting but it’s even worse.
Covet – to desire something that belongs to someone else
Envy – to desire something that belongs to someone else AND to think that they shouldn’t have it!
Here’s an example of the three: If I were jealous because Niki is spending too much time working and say, “Niki, we never get to talk, I would like more time with you, the kids and I never see you” That’s jealousy. If I see my neighbor with a new lawn mower and think, “I have GOT to have that lawn mower! I cannot live without THAT lawnmower,” that would be coveting. Now envy gets even uglier and would be a thought like this, “My neighbor has no business with something like that! I should have that not him!” That’s envy.
Few of us would place envy and murder in the same classification but God does. (Romans 1:29) Few of us would regard envy as something that can bring about death but it can.
Envy will destroy us from the inside out. A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones Proverbs 14:30. Envy is the opposite of a heart at peace.
Who are you most envious? A name may come to mind, but let me help you. We tend to be envious of people who do similar things we do or have similar things we have.
Let me share an ugly facet of envy I have struggled with. Niki and I came to this area to start The Ridge. It was God’s call, His leading and vision. There was another church in our area that started a couple of years after ours with a similar mission, vision, music and ministries. They did well. I shouldn’t have but I felt envious. “What are they doing here? This is my town, my calling, and my vision. They shouldn’t be here.” I felt. Now deep down I want everyone in this community to come to Christ, why would I be envious of another church’s success? I wrestled with that and God dealt with me. I felt led to apologize to that pastor and to tell him I was praying for him. Now because of God when I think about them instead of hoping they will fail or go away, I pray for them. When I get other mailers for new church plants instead of thinking, we have enough churches, I pray for them. Can God call other people to plant churches? Does God want to bless others? He does. God wants others to succeed as much as you.
How do you respond when God blesses someone? What’s your attitude when someone you know succeeds at the same thing you are doing? Do you rejoice or are you envious?
Rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep.” Romans 12:15 “
If you are envious, you reverse this verse. In other words, when we are envious of someone we are sad that good has happened to them! God delights in pouring out his grace and doesn’t have to ask your permission to do so. Rejoice in the gifts and good fortune of others.
Envy even happens in church and it is sad. People are afraid to let others join in the ministry they are a part of for fear that this new person may do a better job. Don’t fear that applaud it. I dealt with this six years ago and it is the most freeing feeling. Despite what my selfish tendencies would dictate, I am here to help people reach their full potential in Christ. To help people GROW like Christ, which means they may outgrow me in areas. When I invited Brian Shanklin to speak at The Ridge I could have recoiled and said, “Oh no, he is a great public speaker, filled with emotion, moving people to tears. I can’t let him speak people may like him more!” “Several years ago I would have struggled with that kind of envy, but because of God’s work in my life, they know I want him and others who help teach like Dan and Jeff to succeed. This is such a joy to see others grow and to have others communicate God’s word in new creative and compelling ways. Envy will keep us from enjoying and applauding the successes of others.
Are you so concerned about what you don’t have and what someone else has that it keeps you from thanking God for your blessings and for the many things that He has bestowed on your life? Are you allowing envy to rob you of your ability to enjoy life? Envy blinds me to my own blessings, spiritual, emotional and physical.
Is it time to deal with the envy in your life? Next time we will look at how to have Less Envy Mess.
Sources: Fatal Distractions, Ed Young and Preacher’s Outline and Sermon Bible – Commentary
For more about the series, The Mess Inside, go to www.ridgefellowship.com