Envy is a stingy and demanding master. It’s stingy because, unlike many other sins, there’s absolutely nothing pleasurable about experiencing it. Most sins bait the hook: lust offers excitement and escape, greed promises wealth and pleasure, gossip promises power and participation in the inner circle. And many sins are at least temporarily pleasurable (that’s why we do them).
But with envy, it’s all hook and no bait. There’s no upside to envy, not even a small or temporary spike of guilty pleasure. That’s why no one consciously plans or schemes to envy (as you might plan to satisfy a lustful desire). We feel envy in spite of ourselves, even though we don’t want to. It’s the great unsought sin.
Envy is also terribly demanding. Although it delivers nothing, it requires much. It can absorb and dominate a life. It can poison pleasures and steal joys and waste time. Envy can make your own blessed life feel shabby and inadequate. It is, in fact, one of the sins that presents the most obvious affront to the sovereignty of God; it questions God’s plans, choices, and goodness. Envy is rebellion.
Seven Strategies for Fighting Envy
“Envy questions God’s plans, choices, and goodness. Envy is rebellion.”
Anyone, no matter how attractive, accomplished, respected, and successful, can feel envy. I’ve heard people I envied confessing their envy of other people. There’s always someone who has what we don’t or is better than we are at what we do. Envy is earthly, unspiritual, and demonic, and is often accompanied by other sins (James 3:14–16).
All of which is to say, this is an important enemy to study, understand, and battle with all our might. Below are seven strategies I’ve found helpful in the fight. Wielding these weapons won’t guarantee quick victory but will at least keep us in the thick of the fight.