The Poison of Envy and Jealousy

To understand the work of envy and jealousy, we need to define how they operate, so we can better discern their poison. By definition, jealousy is a zealous desire for what someone else has. We have to also understand that there is a healthy type of jealousy and an unhealthy type. Just as there is godly anger, which fuels passion, there is also demonic anger that defiles people. The same can be true for jealousy.

A healthy type of jealousy is revealed throughout Scripture of God’s passionate heart towards His people. In His unwavering love towards us, He carries a perfect loyalty towards His children. He has committed Himself to never leave us or forsake us. He is eternally faithful and will be with us to the very end. God is an ever-present help in time of need.[1] In this passionate relationship, God desires unwavering loyalty from us also, so that nothing interferes with our relationship with Him. He asks for our complete surrender to Him, because God is a God of covenant loyal relationships.

There can be a healthy aspect of jealousy in marriage as well. The wife can be a little concerned that her husband is losing his passion for the marriage, as he works late hours at the office and has a few too many conversations with a female coworker. This jealousy will cause a wife to say, “Honey, we need to talk about what is going on.” What drives this is a passionate desire for loyal and faithful relationship within covenant. That healthy jealously brings about conversations that can strengthen the marriage, and also expose kinks in the chains of unity.

In God’s Word, He speaks of being a jealous lover, who is passionate about His loyalty and faithfulness (Exodus 34:14) He calls us to do the same. The Bible even talks about being provoked to jealousy out of a slumber so that we can return passionately to God with our whole heart (Romans 11:11).

An unhealthy type of jealousy is a suspicious insecurity regarding someone else, where we long for who they are or what they have. There becomes a lack of peace and an inner torment develops over another person’s successes, achievements or possessions. It usually comes out of a comparison to your own insecurity and troubled circumstances. This is the dangerous territory of the enemy, where we lose our peace and behave in such a way that relationship health is corrupted.

An unhealthy type of jealousy is a suspicious insecurity regarding someone else, where we long for who they are or what they have.

The word envy speaks of having pain at the sight of someone else’s success or blessing. In its Latin origin, it means “to look at with malice or to cast an evil eye upon.”[2] With envy and jealousy in your life, you actually admire what another one has, but it festers into envy and jealousy. Envy and Jealousy says, “I treasure who you are or what you have, but I hate you because you have it and I don’t.” This is not just in regard to possessions, but can be about personality traits, talents, gifting and more.

Envy and jealousy work the most when we are injured, broken-hearted and struggling. Ever notice when you are broke, you happen to notice the people around you who are not? Whenever you have massive family battles, you take note of all the families that seem to have it together? This is the work of envy and jealousy. It releases its poison when you are at your most vulnerable. If we are honest, watching another person being blessed in an area where we have not received can be very trying. It is also a tremendous opportunity for growth and maturity.

[1]Hebrews 13:5, Deuteronomy 31:6,8, Joshua 1:5