God is not Envious

“Attributes of Love” Series Introduction:  1 John 4:8 tells us that “God is love”, and 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 lists the attributes of love. So in this series, we’re going to discuss each of the attributes in those verses, one by one, to learn more about the nature of God.


First, a point of order: jealously and envy are not the same thing. In English, we sometimes use jealousy to mean envy. But in the Bible, jealousy is is used to show protective feelings over something you already have. Jealousy happened because you are happy with something and you don’t want to give it up, or you lost it and want it back. But envy is about something someone else has that you do not have. Envy is about being dissatisfied with what you do have, and thinking that what others have must be better. Envy often comes along with other negative feelings, such as anger or hatred.

God cannot be envious. He is the maker of all things, and the God of the universe. There is nothing He doesn’t have that someone else does have. He is not dissatisfied with His creation; He said “It is good”. If God were to be envious, it would indicate that someone else was greater than God – they would have to be, to have something that He did not have and could not just create for Himself. No, God can’t be envious and still be all powerful.

Furthermore, Galatians 5:19-20 says that envy is an act of the flesh, and says that “that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God”. God cannot be envious, if envy is among the very things that prevent one from coming to God.

So, if envy prevents us from inheriting the kingdom of God, what should we do about our own envy?

Galatians 5:26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

We should not think so highly of ourselves that we think we deserve something that someone else has. We should also not think so highly of ourselves and our possessions that we provoke someone else into wanting them. (We all know that person that brags about the latest thing they bought. Don’t be that person!)

Proverbs 23:17 Let not your heart envy sinners, but continue in the fear of the Lord all the day.

To avoid envy, we need to regard the Lord’s commands as more important than anything else – certainly more important than someone else and their things.  Furthermore, we aren’t just neglecting to look at God. We are actively telling God that what he has provided for us is not enough. We are disrespecting God’s provision and His plan for our lives. (If what we wish we had is someone else’s body shape, or talent, then we’re saying that what God created in us is not good enough.) Who are we to tell God that He got it wrong? No, we are the ones who got it wrong. We’re evaluating things the wrong way. 

When we find ourselves wishing we had something that belongs to someone else, it is a clear sign that our eyes are not on God. Let that set off alarms for you! Get your eyes back on the road, or you are headed for a crash!

Lord, when I struggle with wanting the things I do not have, help me remember that you are enough. Help me remember that your plans for me are for my good, and so much better than any plan I could have for myself. Help me keep my eyes focused on you, not on the world around me. And when I do have enough, help me to be grateful, not prideful, so that I don’t lead anyone else to envy, but instead turn them to you, the source of all good things.


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