It is easy for us to desire something that others have. Maybe it is a spiritual gifting. Maybe it is a house or car. Maybe it is a promise fulfilled for someone ahead of us. Or a skill we personally do not have. No matter what it is, all of us have been envious at some point in our lives. As Believers we know this is wrong, and yet, sometimes it creeps into our lives without our noticing.
So how do we overcome envy? How can we learn to be thankful in all things and rejoice when those around us are blessed of God?
Envy: What it is and What it is Not…
Words commonly tied to envy include: jealousy, greed, desire, covet, resent, etc. These words often connect with negative emotions that are distant from God’s will and are not a key part of our walk with Him, but there are specific exceptions…
For instance, according to the Word, we have a jealous God who longs to gain our attention and spend time with us. And while that is a ‘form’ of jealousy, it is not jealousy as the world gives and therefore is not contrary to His will or character. Additionally, God desires to place His desires within us to direct us. Which again, is a form that is not bad. But there are other forms that lead to negative things…
These are the forms that relate to envy. They typically include one or more of these aspects:
- Negative Questioning [Why do they have that? What did they do to deserve it? Etc.]
While this is not a comprehensive list of things that can denote envy, it does show a key truth about it. Envy is self-centered and not filled with the love of God…
When God is said to be a jealous God, it is not simply that He desires to have everyone worshiping and serving Him. No. It is deeper than that. And far more loving. It is God allowing us to choose to love Him or not. It is Him desiring our attention, but not forcing it. He loves His creation enough to not push Himself upon us, but He still wants our love. He is jealous for it; passionately, eagerly longing for and earnestly desiring our attention, our companionship, our earnest longing to be in His presence, as our Father, as our Bridegroom, as our Teacher.
This is the sort of jealousy and desire that is pure and righteous. It is far from the envy of the world, and is filled with life, love, and a focus that is not self-centered. It is the sort of desire that as Believers should be ours… but sadly is not always.
Because when envy creeps in creating a bitterness and resentment that causes us to question the plans of God or even His goodness, it begins to distort our desires and creates a barrier to the promises of God. It affects our spiritual walk and even shows through our physical actions, enticing us to move before the right time. We begin to accept counterfeit promises and become out of step with God as we choose to accept things that He never desired for us.
But the choice is ours—to walk in envy or not. When we are tempted by envy, God has provided a way out. The key is to develop a habit of recognizing the signs of envy, then battle in the opposite spirit—with thankfulness, joy and love. When we come out of agreement with the spirit of envy, calling upon God’s Spirit, we stay secure in His promises.
We CAN overcome envy, but it takes intention from us and help from God to do so!
Recognize and Come Out of Agreement with Envy
As Believers we desire to be in right standing with God, but envy works to pull us out of alignment. This can leave us questioning what we can do and how we can overcome.
It is important to realize that we have Christ in us! He is our hope and glory. He is our strength. And He is sitting at the right hand of the Father, making intercession on our behalf.
Because of this, and because Yeshua—Jesus—was tempted in every way but overcame, we too can overcome!
However, to come out of agreement with envy and walk in freedom we need to remove the blinders from our eyes. We need to come away from being familiar with envy and return to a place of oneness with God, where everything that is not of Him is like a red flag in our minds, telling us to not agree with or allow them.
There are a few things we can do to remove the blinders and recognize those things that are not of God, such as envy… these include:
- Asking God for Help | Remember when Jesus spit in the dirt and rubbed it in the blind man’s eyes (see John 9)? The blind man was willing to submit to whatever Jesus was going to do because he trusted God to answer his request to see. When we ask God to allow us to see—to remove the blinders—and are willing to submit to His ways, He will not only draw near to us but cause us to see clearly.
- Assessing Our Thoughts/Behaviors | Just like things in the natural can become too familiar or second nature to us (such as a place we often visit or a tool we regularly use), the same can be true spiritually and reflects in our character. By becoming familiar with envy, we become blinded to it, not realizing that we are even thinking or walking in it. But if we intentionally assess our thoughts and behaviors through the lens of God’s character and ways, then we can see and take action on those things in us that should and shouldn’t belong.
- Spending Time in God’s Word | While this may not seem like a direct way to remove blinders, it is actually an effective tool, because it takes us to the heart of God’s character and ways. God’s Word is a discerner of truths, able to cut cleanly between what is of God and what is not. By spending time in God’s Word, the sin nature of the world is peeled away and the righteousness of God is revealed.
- Maintaining Fellowship with God AND Believers | Those we spend time with shape who we are. When we spend time with God we begin to take on His characteristics, but He also desires that we spend time in fellowship with other Believers. Specifically, like-minded Believers who will lovingly correct, direct, and edify us. By regularly setting aside time for fellowship with God and Believers, we are strengthened and directed, causing many blinders to be removed.
God may lead us down all these paths as He heals our sight—perhaps even other paths as well—yet none of these paths will benefit only our vision. By choosing to spend time in God’s Word, to pray, to fellowship, to consider our ways… we grow to be more like our Father. We grow in faith. And we grow in love.
Once we can see—becoming more like our Father—we can take action! We can discover the places where we are not walking in God’s ways and choose a better path. We can come out of agreement with envy—or whatever else God shows us—giving it over to God, requesting and accepting the power of Yeshua’s Blood, turning from the negative behavior and filling that place with Godly habits and patterns… discovering freedom, joy, love, and the promises of God!
Yes, there may be times of temptation where what we had overcome tries to trick us into letting go of the new Godly characteristics and reinstate the bad… but when we turn to God, fixing our eyes on Him and His ways, we can overcome and even grow from having faced the temptation! We can grow in the king priest anointing and call that God has placed upon our lives! We can experience the joy of God’s Presence as we help prepare the way for His promises!
It is time for us to overcome the envy and blindness of the enemy and receive the fullness and promise of God!