“And I saw that all toil and all achievement spring from one person’s envy of another. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.” Ecclesiastes 4:4
For some “non-competitive” people, someone else’s success can awaken something in you that you never knew was there before, and this gives birth to envy.
Classic Case of Envy in the Bible
5 Whatever mission Saul sent him on, David was so successful that Saul gave him a high rank in the army. This pleased all the troops, and Saul’s officers as well.
6 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 timbrels and lyres. 7 As they danced, they sang:
“Saul has slain his thousands,
and David his tens of thousands.”
8 Saul was very angry; this refrain displeased him greatly. “They have credited David with tens of thousands,” he thought, “but me with only thousands. What more can he get but the kingdom?” 9 And from that time on Saul kept a close eye on David. — 1 Samuel 18:5-9
If you look closely at this passage, you will see that David’s own competence elevated him to high ranks within Saul’s army. It wasn’t until the crowds compared David’s successes to Saul’s that Saul began to keep a jealous eye on David.
We may not care whether or not we get recognition from our boss, but there’s always somebody in our life – be it a significant other, a romantic prospect, a hard-to-please parent, the crowds – that we want recognition from. We just want to hear someone appreciate our accomplishments, our beauty, athletic prowess or some other gift/talent we possess. We want to live in nice houses or drive nice cars so that somebody will see that we “made it” in life. So when someone comes into the picture and steals the spotlight, a new spirit of competitiveness rears its ugly head.
Will You Declare War or Keep the Peace?
You can’t control someone else’s success unless you declare war on their territory and begin a manipulation game. The key to peace is self-control, and without God’s help, that is very hard to do. Even if you don’t act out on your jealousy and envy, feeling those emotions every day takes a toll on your mental health.
A fool always loses his temper, but a wise man holds back. – Proverbs 29:11
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age. – Titus 2:11-12
Have you ever felt jealousy so intensely that it blinds you to your own talents and abilities? God has given everyone a specific set of talents, but when we look at other people with a jealous eye and begin to lose our temper over envy, we are not living in the grace that brought us salvation.
When we start to feel ugliness rear its head, we can only control ourselves and pray that God will remove these things from our heart so we can continue living peacefully with others.
May we live in peace and enjoy the fruits of the Spirit:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. – Galatians 5:22-23
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