Envy Kills

Yesterday my husband finished preaching through 1 Samuel, and we came to the close of the book as well as the close of Saul’s life and reign. The final conclusion was an exhortation to us all regarding envy. James says that our spirits veer toward envy. And if you think about it for a minute, you have to agree. Our spirits naturally go there. And if we think we are free from envy, it may be because we know others envy us. There really are no exemptions. It affects all of us some way or other.

Envy is a deadly sin. It destroys households and friendships and marriages. Saul envied David. That envy didn’t destroy David, but it did destroy Saul in the end. When we nurse envy, we are nursing a viper. When we tolerate envy, we are giving it a hand in our own self-destruction.

Envy, like all sin, doesn’t make sense. So rather than trying to understand it, we should simply repent of it. Envy is a universal sin. It is not whether we will envy, but what we will envy. It is sneaky. It creeps in easily.

We can’t reason with envy because it is unreasonable. The only thing we can do with envy is crucify it, and we can’t even do that. But we can take it to the Cross where Jesus dealt with envy once and for all. We can’t crucify our own envy, but if we are in Christ, He crucified it for us. And that is good news!

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9 Responses to “Envy Kills”


  • Well, it’s been a while since I’ve sat down and cruised through the posts here. So much good stuff to read from the past month or two. Thanks, ladies! I’m not sure I’ll have time to sit and listen to this week’s sermon anytime very soon, but this post brought to mind a really helpful article your husband wrote on the topic of envy as it relates to sibling rivalry, and I thought it would be worth sharing again. Important thoughts to keep in mind if you’re busy raising multiple kids: http://credenda.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=89:sibling-rivalry&catid=37&Itemid=111

  • So appreciate and agree with this post…
    Envy kills joy.

    I have a couple of specific areas where I struggle with envy–
    1– of those who have family close by who have help/support raising their children.
    2– of those who have husbands who work less and have jobs with flexible hours.

    I’m so aware that in these areas it’s an ongoing battle for me. What I’ve realized over the years, is that when I allow my mind and heart to give in to Satan and I focus on the discontentment…

    I miss God’s goodness and joy in my life in general, but also in those particular areas.
    For example, I forget about the “surrogate family” He has placed in our lives, such a HUGE gift from Him.

    For me envy equates unthankfulness…like I’m saying to God..”I don’t trust that you really are good and that You have my best in mind.”

    Your post is full of hopeful news–His cross. Thank you!

  • Nancy, what’s the best way to discern between envy/covetousness/discontentment and just normal wishes and desires?

  • What is the underlying lie I am believing when I submit to the temptation to envy another? What truth do I stand on the replace this lie? Sin does make sense when our lives are being lived on a false premise. I need to understand my sin so I know what I am repenting of; otherwise my repentance is more like worldly sorrow and I keep returning to my sin. Make sense?

  • Elise and Valerie,
    Envy is related to what other people have. I want it BECAUSE she has it. An unmarried woman can have a normal wish/desire for a husband,and that’s good. But if she has a friend who gets engaged, and that news brings on hard feelings, then you can tell it’s related to jealousy. We can’t put too much effort in trying to isolate the exact location of the sin; it’s enough to know that we are out of fellowship and can’t rejoice with her as we ought.
    When we are envious, I suppose the lie we are telling ourselves is that we deserve what so-in-so has. We may even tell ourselves that so-in-so doesn’t deserve it. The truth you stand on is gratitude. God is writing your story, and He is a good storyteller. Love your story and love the Author of your story. Be grateful for the blessings you see and pray for the ones you don’t see yet.
    I am not saying that we don’t need to know what sin we are repenting of. We do need to name it. But we don’t need to dissect it. Envy really is irrational. It makes no sense to be mad about what other people have. It takes our eyes off what we do have and makes us unhappy with it. Envy makes us want what someone else has. So we should repent of envy any time we see it. Hope that helps!

  • Thanks. That’s about how I understood the distinction. Envy is unable to rejoice with those who rejoice — over marriage, babies, wealth, successes, or toys. Healthy desire is able to rejoice when others are blessed because it is perhaps even more keenly aware of the value of the blessing than the one receiving it.

  • Timely post on this end. We’re buying a house (lots of opportunities to compare and be dissatisfied), living with my in-laws, and trying to figure out why we haven’t conceived. It’s kind of crazy over here =)

  • Valerie, I’m so glad you asked that question. :) Mrs. Wilson, your answer to Valerie’s question was just what I needed, especially: “God is writing your story, and He is a good storyteller. Love your story and love the Author of your story. Be grateful for the blessings you see and pray for the ones you don’t see yet.”

  • Ditto Emily W. That was a helpful question/answer! :)

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