For a lot of my life, I have struggled with envy. And I can say from experience it is one of the most life taking and relationship killing things.
Growing up I always had a very specific idea of what I wanted my community to look like in my head. My experience for a long time did not match that though, so I felt rejected a lot and began to feel very envious watching other people’s friendships blossom.
What was hardest was watching people I thought I was close to choose other people to build deeper relationships with.
I was boastful, too. I thought very highly of myself and when I was chosen over it made the feelings of rejection even harder to get over. I would push people away when I felt chosen over.
I perceived myself as a victim when really I had a scarcity mindset and envy that was killing the relationships I could have had. I had to realize I could have relationships with people even if they had other deeper relationships.
I can remember when God told me what I was doing was not loving people. It was OK to have relational needs that I needed to be met, but I had to let God fill those first with himself and then with a community he designed for me.
Instead of feeling rejected and envious when I was chosen over, I had to realize my worth was who God said I was — which was already chosen and loved.
In the Bible, the parable of the workers in the vineyard tells us a lot about what God says about envy. In the parable, several different workers come to a landowner at different times during the day.
At the first hour, the landowner promises the workers a certain wage, a denarius. As the day goes on, more and more workers come until the last hour of the work day.
At the end of the day, the landowner begins to distribute wages starting with the last workers to join first. He gives them exactly what he promised the workers who joined at the beginning of the day.
Those workers immediately believe that they will get even more money from the landowner, but when he gets to them, he gives the workers who started first the same amount of money as the workers who started last.
The workers who started first are furious. How unfair was it for people who worked only one hour to get the same as them, when they had worked so many hours.
But the landowner says this to them in return:
“I am not being unfair to you, friends. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?”
For me, constantly wishing I had certain relationships was mistrusting my heavenly landowner and being envious of the other workers around me. God does not have to give you anything, but because He is a good father, He gives us way, way more than we ever deserve. There is no reason for us to envy other or want more than what we have because God gives us exactly what we need.
Think about your relationships. Envy doesn’t just have to be coveting someone else’s possessions. Are there any ways you might be allowing envy to creep into them?
To stop envying others, there are a few things you can do:
Realize God gives you value—He has called you valued, chosen, loved and cared and provided for.
Don’t compare your situation to others.
Be thankful for the things you already have.
Genuinely celebrate the good things that happen to other people.
Let go of your scarcity mindset. Realize life is not a competition. God has abundantly more than you realize and he is generous.
Be generous yourself. Genuinely give of yourself to other people and you will find pleasure in giving rather than taking.
Author | Lindsey Conway