Envy may be the ugliest emotion. It is the symptom of a deep spiritual infection in our hearts. The dictionary defines envy as a feeling of discontented or resentful longing aroused by someone else’s possessions, qualities, or luck. Even the definition is ugly.
Why do we care about what someone else has? Why is that the baseline for our happiness? The answer is as old as the first humans who inhabited the Earth. We care because we doubt God’s goodness. We care because we fell for the oldest trick in the book, that we can be all knowing like Him. He doesn’t know what’s best for us. We know what’s best for us.
Three of the Ten Commandments speak to envy (Commandments 7, 9 and 10). With all due respect to non-believers, kindly permit me to address the remainder of this story to believers of God.
Why do you care about what someone else has? Why is that the baseline for your happiness? Envy is like a fever caused by an infection. Doubting God’s goodness causes the infection. The only way to get the cure is to learn to love like God loves. The only way to do that is to develop a mindset that dwells on the Holy Spirit, a mind that consistently thinks about who He is and what He wants for you.
These habits can be formed through proper training. As they increase in measure, your inclination to envy will decrease. With hard work, envy will become a thing of your past and no longer part of your character.
I used to fall into the trap of envy a lot. I used to say things like:
- “It’s not fair!”
- “Why them?”
- “Why not me? I’ve worked as hard as they do.”
- “I’ve played by the rules and have done what I’m supposed to do. Why do they make more money?”
- “Why do they have a bigger house? A happier family? A nicer car?”
I was like an ungrateful child, unhappy about what I didn’t have, rather than focused on the gifts I’ve been given. Now I possess enough knowledge about God’s love that I no longer question His fairness. I am content with the conversation He and I once had:
Me: “Those other people were hired last and worked only one hour. But you paid them the same as you paid me who worked all day in the hot sun.“
God: “Friend, I didn’t cheat you. I paid you exactly what we agreed on … What business is it of yours if I want to pay them the same that I paid you? Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Are you jealous because I am good to them too?“