Envy vs Jealousy
Like a pair of shoes, jealousy and envy are hard to tell apart on the surface. And yet the difference between envy and jealousy is a serious one: jealousy can be good, envy is never good. God says His name is Jealous (Ex. 34:14); He is a jealous God (Deut. 4:24).
A husband should be jealous for his wife’s affections, just as God is jealous for His glory. But, God is never envious.
Jealousy desires what belongs to you but envy covets and becomes embittered with what others have that belongs to them. Mr. Envy has many children: bitterness, hatred, grumbling, discontentment. Envy cannot rejoice with others!
We can also see this in the life of the Lord Jesus Christ. He was not an envious man. He came into the world possessing everything, yet having nothing. Upholding creation, yet nowhere to lay His head.
But why? Why was the Lord Christ not an envier?
The Drive Behind Envy
The need of every human heart is to know, love, and treasure great things, captivating things. On earth, nothing is enough.
There are better versions, prettier people, bigger houses, nicer jobs. This is why short glimpses of the Grand Canyon or other beautiful sights only please us momentarily.
Jeremiah Burroughs wrote this, “Just as if a man were hungry, and to satisfy his craving stomach he should gape and hold open his mouth to take in the wind, and then should think that the reason why he is not satisfied is because he has not got enough of the wind. No, the reason is because the thing is not suitable to a craving stomach.”
The reason why we fall into the sin of envy is because we believe the lie that things are meant to satisfy us. We are hardwired to find our joy not in the gifts but in the Giver.
Jesus had no room for envy because His heart was fully satisfied and happy in God. He loved the Lord with all His heart, and loved His neighbor as Himself perfectly.
Putting Envy to Death
Envy dies in a God-seeking heart. Loving and treasuring God removes all matter of bitterness, envy, and discontentment. We can then say with David, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want,” (Psalm 23:1, ESV).
It is only by loving Christ and seeking to be satisfied in Him alone that we can truly love our brothers biblically. When our eyes are fixated on Christ, we shall not look with envy.
At the cross He suffered to give us everlasting joy in God. God is our treasure, whom have we in heaven but Him (Psalm 73:25-36)? Ask yourself: does Christ satisfy you?
Christ is infinitely satisfying, all to Him we owe. Therefore, when we love Christ we shall not envy.
When we love Christ and His rule most, we can rightly rejoice in God and in His gracious providences to others.
Thomas Watson, “God shows more love in giving us Christ than in giving us crowns and kingdoms! God may give a man many worldly things — and hate him. God may give others a little gold and silver — but if He gives you Christ, He gives you all that ever He had!”
May the things of the earth grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.