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Today was supposed to be a “chill” day for me–one in which I would take a complete mental break and do nothing. I tried that last Wednesday and ended up doing work anyway (only because I wanted to). I’ll admit that I am a bit of a work-a-holic, but I’m trying this mental break thing again today. Although I will generally try to take it easy, I simply cannot resist the urge to write something!
Remember the “What Love Is…and What Love Is Not” blog series? Well, that series has been completed, but ever since I began composing said series, I knew I would have to do a spin off. In part 2, I provided a brief list of what love is not, according to the Scriptures, and I stated that love does not envy. By the way, feel free to review the first portion of part 2 of that blog series, including the statements I made regarding how we all have made mistakes, that we all have shortcomings/flaws, and that it is important we all maintain a desire to grow.
On a side note, I did not realize how many teen readers I have, and although this blog is for anyone who may be experiencing what is described later in this piece, I want you (my teen readers) to know that parts of this blog are especially for you. I know that kids/teens can be cruel. In fact, I had been bullied while growing up, and it was not easy. Just remember that you are loved and that I’m praying for you.
Before you read any further, please take a look at what is written below.
Before I dive into the topic of envy, I want to make a few statements.
Statement 1: As noted above and in part 2 of the love blog, we all have made mistakes in the past. We all will make mistakes in the future. We all have shortcomings, but that is not an excuse to be complacent. We must ask the Lord for growth–spiritual growth.
Statement 2: If you look at various definitions of envy and jealousy, you will see some similarities and distinctions between the two. For now, I will not write about these similarities and distinctions. However, understand that we (society) often use the two terms interchangeably. For the purposes of this blog and to avoid repetitively using the word “envy”, I will use the terms envy and jealousy interchangeably also.
As noted in part 2 of the love blog, envy can be defined as a feeling of resentment coupled with a desire to possess what another individual has. I admitted that this definition likely was not the best one, but it was the only one I could construct at that time (and for now). Keep in mind that envy is a work of the flesh (See Galatians 5:19–21) versus a fruit of the Spirit (See Galatians 5:22–23). As Christians, we should desire for our actions to reflect the fruit of the Spirit versus works of the flesh, correct?
From Where or Why Do Feelings of Envy Surface?
Unfortunately, we live in a society where many people desire to be the “top dog” in many areas; they may desire all of the attention, and some may feel intimidated if they encounter someone whom they feel could threaten their chances of attaining or maintaining that top position and/or all of that attention. (Think of Saul and David. [Read 1 Samuel Chapters 18–24.]) Also note that this desire to be on top can be found amongst church people also. Essentially, feelings of insecurity arise and jealousies surface. Yet, these feelings are toxic to our spiritual well-being and can impede our growth as individuals.
Sadly, envy runs rampant in our society. The world can place a lot of pressure on people (if they allow) to be the best, the most intelligent, the wealthiest, the most well-liked, and/or the most attractive among their peers. (Oh, and don’t even let me begin to talk about the social media world.) This “pressure” may (or may not) facilitate these envious feelings, and it is critical that as Christians, we focus on spiritual goals and blessings. (See Colossians 3:2.) By the way, there is nothing wrong with having nice material possessions, but material possessions should not be our focus.
One may be surprised at the number of things a person can be jealous of (e.g., an individual’s home, a person’s car, the fact that an individual is happily married and/or has children, a person’s education, a person’s career, an individual’s personality, an individual’s looks, a person’s talents, and so on). It is important that people recognize the fact that envy is a common emotion/feeling and that they are able to identify the “signs”.
What are Some of the “Signs” of Envy?
There are many “signs” of envy and as noted in the previous paragraph, it is important that one is able to recognize those signs. (See below.) Please note that a person can exhibit one, some, or none of the things that are described below. Also, keep in mind that just because a person is exhibiting these signs, that does not necessarily mean he/she is jealous of you.
Got it? Good! Here we go.
They imitate you. What you have, they must have. What you do, they must do, perhaps even better. They make it their goal to “one up” you. Don’t confuse this one with admiration, however.
They mistreat you. Can’t determine exactly what you did to make that person be so rude to you? Perhaps it is not something you did. Perhaps that person is struggling with jealousy. However, please keep in mind that jealousy is not always the reason people mistreat you. People mistreat others for various reasons, and oftentimes, that person has been hurt (by someone else) in the past. Also bear in mind that we must perform self-assessments. If we wronged someone, then we should admit it (and apologize).
They observe/stare at/stalk you. Envy can spiral out of control and take on obsessive characteristics. That person becomes “obsessed” with your every movement, your every statement. They will take your words and/or actions, regardless of how innocent or positive they are and turn them into something negative.
They consistently look for something to criticize. This statement ties in with what is written above. However, be careful with this one. Just because someone is criticizing you (especially constructively), that does not mean they are necessarily jealous of you. Oftentimes, that person is trying to help you, to facilitate your growth, and hopefully, he or she is being wise with his/her approach. However, a person who is struggling with envy may criticize you… a lot. In fact, many will make it their mission to find all of your “wrongs”, while not considering your positive attributes.
They magnify your flaws. And this statement ties in with what is written above also. We all have them (imperfections), right? However, an envious person will attempt to play mind games with you and present your flaws as greater than what they really are.
They minimize your achievements while bragging about how great they are. Remember, envious people are often insecure. To help them cope with those feelings of insecurities and to make them feel better about themselves, they will trivialize your accomplishments while informing/reminding you of theirs.
They spread lies/rumors about you. An insanely envious person will do what they can to damage your reputation. As Saul sought to kill David (physically), some will seek to kill you (with their tongues). However, don’t worry if this happens to you. I know. Easier said than done, right? Just trust that God will bring the truth to light.
They form an entourage. Now, you know the devil does not like to work alone, right? Satan will work through people hoping to break your spirit. Envious people will recruit as many people as possible to join their “I don’t like him” or “I don’t like her” team. In your absence, you frequently are the topic of group conversations, and what is said about you is not necessarily good. Stay strong and continue to be that loving, kind person that you are.
They are nice to you. Wait, what? As noted above, envious people may exhibit none of the signs mentioned previously. Because they are envious of you, that does not necessarily mean they will mistreat you (at least openly), and it does not necessarily mean they are bad people. As noted earlier, many individuals are struggling internally with feelings of insecurity, and it is important that you continually pray for everyone because we are not aware of everyone's secret battles.
How Does One Overcome Feelings of Envy?
I have received this question in the past. My answer: fast, pray, study your Bible. Do what you can to help keep the “flesh” under control. If you happen to be struggling with jealousy, admit it. Talk to God about it so He can work with you on this. He still loves you! Remember, we all have our flaws. We all require growth in many areas.
I also encourage you to continually focus on what the Lord has blessed you with. Concentrate on your gifts. Never forget that you have something very special that the Lord has instilled in you. Always remember, you are precious. You are important to God. You are loved by Him.
Scriptures to read and reflect on:
1 Samuel, Chapters 18–24
Edited on December 27, 2017.
Positivity Inspires, Copyright 2017 (All rights reserved.)
Positivity Inspires is my pen name and trademark. Use is allowed by the United States Patent and Trademark Office in the category of books, Christian / Inspirational.
Positivity Inspires is an author, speaker, servant of the Lord, and founder of Positivity Inspires, LLC. She is the author of Words of Spiritual Encouragement and Inspiration: Volume 1, available now on Amazon. Visit her website at www.positivityinspires.com.