Tools to Overcome Envy
It was my best friend's wedding day. I had dreamed with her about this moment for so many years. I had walked with her through her journey to find true and authentic love through tears and laughter. Now, the day weʼd both been anticipating had finally come. She was glowing with heavenly beauty, and God was scripting a new chapter into her beautiful love story. I helped her into her wedding dress and took her hands in mine, we smiled up to God and said a prayer of thanksgiving. Yet, even as I did so, the enemy attacked. The unwanted thoughts appeared.
“Look at you standing there helping your friend get ready for her wedding while you are still single!” the voice of the enemy crept into my mind. “I bet God has overlooked you when it comes to finding love. It's embarrassing, you're getting older and it might never happen for you!” I was tempted to give a snide look of jealousy.
“God has not forgotten me!” I said in my heart. “I am sure his plans for me are better than I have ever dreamed and I believe that if it is his will, he will reveal to me my future husband in his own perfect time. I will be blessed to rejoice with my best friend!” Through his Holy Spirit, God encouraged and reminded me to fight the thought of jealousy.
I said a quick prayer, and then smiled to myself as I felt joy welling up in my heart. It was one of the most joyous occasions of my life. Her wedding day was a testimony to me and to the world of the riches that God has stored up for those who love Him. To this day, I remember and reminisce that day fondly with her.
Had I chosen the opposite, had I chosen to not attend the wedding out of jealousy or envy, or isolate myself from my friend in order to protect myself from those feelings, I would have missed out. I would have missed out on the beautiful day God prepared for her, for me and for those around her. Not only would my envy hurt me, it would hurt my relationship with my friend. Envy, by far, has to be at the top of the list when it comes to damaging relationships.
Like the example I gave you, you know there are great things happening in the lives of people around you, things revealing God's goodness and building his Kingdom, and somehow, deep in your heart you feel something different than joy and excitement. Rather than rejoicing, you feel something a lot like jealousy and envy:
- A friend of yours is asked to be the speaker at your church's women's event. It was her best speaking engagement and there's a huge response. Her popularity grows.
- Your co-worker quits her job to join a foreign mission field and works mighty miracles in her new adventure for God.
- Your sister is a gifted prayer intercessor. When she prays, things happen. Her gift seems better than yours.
- Your best friend is engaged to be married. Her dreams are coming true while your life seems to be at a stand still.
- God very obviously intervenes in someone's marriage, with their child, or with their health, while you continue to pray for Him to do the same in your life.
- Your classmate is accepted to their top-choice University, while you continue to wait for a response.
- Someone you know gets a deal to write a book with a big-time publisher. They become a best-selling author.
Is this something you can relate to? Do you ever look at other women and think that you come up short? That you're not as pretty or not as smart? Not as creative or not as talented? Not as organized or not as popular? If you can relate, then I'll let you in on a freeing truth. God didn't create us to live someone else's life! He created us with our own set of talents, strengths and our own mission.
I think one of the most difficult commands in the Word of God for us to obey is the command to rejoice with those who rejoice. When a person is grief stricken or has a need, you’re right there supporting them. But do you rejoice with those who rejoice? When God's hand of blessing rests on their shoulder? Love and jealousy are mutually exclusive. We cannot have love in our hearts and be jealous. They cannot go hand in hand.
Jealousy and envy come in different forms. Jealousy is the notion that I want what someone else has. I wish I could have it, and I’m jealous for it. Envy has deeper roots. It’s not that we want what they have; we wish they didn’t have it, we want to see it taken away from them.
When we keep our eyes on Jesus and his plans for us, there is no room to compare ourselves to others. You were knitted together in your mother's womb with your own set of personalities, traits and purposes. I can say this confidently, because no one will ever be your sibling's sister. No one else will ever be your children's mother. You are unique, one of a kind and God's masterpiece (Eph. 2:10).
The only cure for our envy is asking for God to fill our hearts with His love and grace toward our neighbour or sister in Christ. Here are some helpful tools to overcome envy:
Acknowledge & confess envy if you feel that you struggle with this area. Acknowledging and confessing is the best antidote.
Avoid comparison. Thank God for making you the unique woman that you are and for gifting those around you.
Rejoice with others. Have negative thoughts got you down? "Rejoice with those who rejoice" Romans 12:15. Send someone a message with an uplifting word. You will see how quickly those negative feelings fade away.
Be patient with the plan God has for you. Trust that he knows what's best!
Count the cost. A lot of times we don't know how hard someone has worked to achieve their success. We're often not jealous of the time and effort someone has put into their work.
Lean on the Lord. Look to the power of the Holy Spirit to help you in this area. When unwanted thoughts appear, rebuke them with a quick prayer or say a bible verse. Rebuking negative thoughts with the Word of God is the surest solution.
Let's pray: Heavenly Father, I surrender to You this area of my life and thank you for how fearfully and wonderfully you have made me. Your Word says that you made me unique, and a masterpiece, that you wove me together in my mother's womb. I now rejoice in this truth and pray that you help me to rejoice with others too. I pray that you enable me by the working of your Spirit to celebrate the success of others for it is a display of your glory and power. In your name I pray, Amen.