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“For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.”

James 3:16

Discontentment flourishes in the soil of envy and jealousy. Envy, jealousy, and covetousness are interrelated evils. Discontent with our position and possessions often indicates a self-centered attitude which leads to intolerant, resentful, and even malicious feelings toward a real or imagined rival. We may covet the success, personality, material possessions, good looks, or position of another. 

Then, in order to compensate for a frustrated ego, we make unkind and destructive remarks and submerge ourselves in self-pity, anger, bitterness, and depression. 

Cain envied Abel because Abel’s offering was accepted by God while Cain’s was not. He became jealous, coveting what had been denied him (Genesis 4:3–8).  Anger, bitterness, depression, and murder followed: “For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.” (James 3:16)

“Is envy always wrong?”Yes. Scripture never portrays envy in a positive light. God is never depicted as an envious God.“Now it was the governor’s custom at the Feast to release a prisoner chosen by the crowd. At that time they had a notorious prisoner, called Barabbas. So when the crowd had gathered, Pilate asked them, ‘Which one do you want me to release to you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?’ For he knew it was out of envy that they had handed Jesus over to him.” Matthew 27:15–18

Envy and jealous ambition motivated Lucifer to rebel against God: 

“I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God... I will make myself like the Most-High.”

(Isaiah 14:13–14)

The apostle Paul gives the all-time antidote to the sins of envy, jealousy, and covetousness: 

“I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”

(Philippians 4:12–13)

"A sound heart is life to the body, but envy is rottenness to the bones.”

(Proverbs 14:30)


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 What Is Envy?

  • Envy is resenting the advantage of another, with a desire to possess the same advantage.
  • Envy is coveting what another has.
  • The Latin word for “envy” is invidere, which means “to look at with enmity.”


“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

Exodus 20:17


What Is Jealousy?

  • Jealousy is resenting another’s rivalry or unfaithfulness, with a desire to guard or maintain what one possesses.
  • Jealousy is possessiveness. 
  • The Greek word for “jealousy” is zeloo, which means “zealous or burning with jealousy.”

“Envy is the greatest of all diseases among men.” 



“When the men were returning home after David had killed the Philistine, the women came out from all the towns of Israel to meet King Saul with singing and dancing, with joyful songs and with tambourines and lutes. As they danced, they sang: ‘Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands.' Saul was very angry; this refrain galled him. ‘They have credited David with tens of thousands,’ he thought, ‘but me with only thousands. What more can he get but the kingdom?’ And from that time on Saul kept a jealous eye on David.”

1 Samuel 18:6–9

 The Differences between Envy and Jealousy

Envy is empty hands hungry to be filled.

Jealousy is full hands fearing to be emptied.


Envy a burning desire to get.

Jealousy is a burning desire to keep.


Envy craving what another has.

Jealousy clinging to what one has.


Envy is focused on gaining.

Jealousy is focused on losing.


Envy is fueled by a sense of entitlement.

Jealousy is fueled by a sense of retaining control.


Envy is rooted in ambitious pride.

Jealousy is rooted in anxious fear.

10 Traits That Lead to Envy and Jealousy 

  • Comparison - Measuring our own worth against someone else’s attributes (Jeremiah 1:5) 
  • Competition - Seeking to outdo or outperform another (Philippians 2:4) 
  • Covetousness - Craving what someone else has (1 Timothy 6:6) 
  • Discontent - Feeling dissatisfied with what you have (Hebrews 13:5) 
  • Fearfulness - Worrying over a potential loss (Deuteronomy 31:6) 
  • Insecurity - Fearing an unwanted change or loss in status or circumstances (1 Corinthians 13:4) 
  • Possessiveness - Claiming ownership of someone or something (Proverbs 28:25) 
  • Rivalry - Competing to surpass another (Proverbs 28:26)
  • Selfish ambition - Striving to attain a better position (Philippians 2:3)
  • Strife -  Engaging in bitter conflict with another (1 Timothy 6:4)

 The Envy Checklist 

  • Do you feel perturbed over another person’s possessions? 
  • Do you have hidden feelings of inferiority? 
  • Do you secretly resent another person’s abilities? 
  • Do you feel unhappy over someone’s happiness? 
  • Do you feel provoked over another’s elevated position? 
  • Do you become angered over someone’s success? 
  • Do you make negative comments about another person’s attractive appearance? 
  • Do you pout about another person’s popularity? 
  • Do you grumble about blessings that another receives? 
  • Do you secretly celebrate when someone endures a setback? 


The Jealousy Checklist 

  • Do you feel overly possessive of someone dear to you? 
  • Do you want an exclusive relationship with this person? 
  • Do you feel anxious over any potential loss of this person? 
  • Do you feel threatened that this relationship might end or change? 
  • Do you assume your worth and value is tied to this person? 
  • Do you feel emotionally dependent on this person? 
  • Do you feel suspicious about the normal behavior of this person? 
  • Do you feel distrustful of others when it comes to this person? 
  • Do you feel unable to trust God with the future regarding this person? 
  • Do you feel insecure when it comes to your future with this person?

Gaining an Attitude of Gratitude

Look at what God has placed in your own hands ... rather than what is in the hands of others. (1 Chronicles 23:30) Begin and end each day expressing thanks to God for at least one thing.

Look at what God has done for you in the past ... rather than what He has done for others. (Psalm 143:5–6; 63:6–8) From a detailed list of things you have recalled, thank God for each one.

Look at what God is doing in you ... rather than what He is doing in others. (Philippians 2:13) Thank God for preparing you for greater service. Ask Him to make you a godly example to others.

Look at what God is doing through you ... rather than what He is doing through others. (1 Thessalonians 1:2–3, 7–8) Identify the ways you bless others and further the kingdom of God.

Look at what God has promised regarding you ... rather than what He has promised regarding others. (2 Peter 1:3–4) Become familiar with the promises of God to those who place their faith in Jesus Christ.

“Godliness with contentment is great gain.”

(1 Timothy 6:6)

 Key Verse to Learn

“Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

(Matthew 6:33)


Key Passage to Read

Matthew 20:1–16


Grace Filled Words

“Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?”

Galatians 3:2-3


“Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

Matthew 6:33


Additional Scriptures

Galatians 3:11

Proverbs 16:2

Romans 10:3-4

Matthew 20:1–16

Proverbs 27:41 

Corinthians 3:3




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