What Does Envy Mean In The Bible

Definition of Envy in the Bible

Envy is a strong feeling of resentment against someone or something due to their perceived superiority. In biblical terms, the strong feeling of resentment is addressed mainly in two books within the Bible, Proverbs and Colossians. Through these two books, envy is described as feelings of anger and malice towards a person or thing due to their successes.
The Old Testament book of Proverbs is a book that is known for its warnings about envy and its consequences. In one of the passages, Proverbs 14:30 states: “Envy thou not the oppressor, and choose none of his ways.” This verse explains how this Bible condemns its readers to not have envy or malice towards others and to not live by the oppressor’s ways.
Colossians 3:12-14 further explains the consequences of envy in the bible: “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.” This passage states how having a heart full of envy and resentment can destroy relationships and the peace in your life. While the Bible states to be thankful, having envy can disrupt your thankfulness and peace.

Examples of Envy in the Bible

Throughout the Bible, there are showings of envy and its effects. In the Bible, Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers out of envy as his brothers were jealous of the lavish coat that their father had given Joseph. Joseph began to prosper in Egypt due to the Lord’s hand, and this made his brothers even more jealous of him.
Another example in the Bible of envy is when the people in Egypt were angered by the Israelites who continued to grow in number, and the Egyptians were envious of their success. They eventually enslaved the Hebrews out of envy due to the success of the Israelite people, which set up the plagues and the deliverance of the Israelite people.

Can We Control Our Envy?

In biblical terms, envy can be seen as a sin and a barrier between yourself and God. Feeling envious of another is a natural emotion, however, in the Bible it warns of envy can lead to negative consequences. To control our envy and ensure that it does not have an effect on us, it is important to look to the Lord and trust that He will provide.
We can control our envy through prayer and heritance in Christ. In the bible, it is written, “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads bebeside still waters” (Psalm 23:1-2). By believing that all is given to us by God, it helps us to find comfort and calmness amongst the chaos. Believing in God’s plan for us and that He is providing more than ever imaginable gives us peace and eliminates the feeling of envy.
In order to embrace the divine grace that is given to us, it is important to have an attitude of gratitude. Gratitude helps us to remove envy from our hearts and replace it with thankfulness. With an attitude of thankfulness, life can become more fulfilling and resentments may begin to subside.

Envy and its Effects on Behavior

Envy may lead us to behaviors that have detrimental effects on our lives. Not being able to express our envy may lead us to think poorly of ourselves or question God’s great plan for our lives. Many times, envy leads us to comparisons, and when looking at others successes, we overlook our own. Looking at the successes of others and becoming jealous of those successes often leads to feelings of inferiority and unworthiness. It makes us strive for the approval of others rather than God’s approval.
Lashing out at other people is also a consequence of envy that is mentioned in the Bible. When feeling envious, it is easy to criticize and be resentful towards others and their achievements. It becomes an easy way to boost our own insecurities and cover up the feelings of envy.

Dangers of Envy

The dangers to our mental and emotional health are among the greatest risks of envy. When the feeling of envy dominates our emotions and we become unable to find joy in our own successes, the consequences may be very dangerous. The continuously negative thoughts and comparisons may have a very negative impact on our mental health.
This envy can have a negative spiritual effect as well. When we become envious of others and forget to be thankful for the gifts that God has given us, then our relationship with God may suffer. Until we view ourselves as valuable and worthy of all that has been given to us by God, it can become difficult to ever have a strong and powerful relationship with Him.

The Spiritual Power of Forgiveness

One of the most important tools against envy is forgiveness. The Bible teaches that the only way to overcome envy is by forgiving those who we are envious of. Through forgiveness, it eliminates the feelings of evil that enter our hearts out of envy. This can help clear our heads and eliminate the negative feelings that come with envy.
The Apostle Paul in Colossians 3:13 states that we should forgive each other just as our Heavenly Father has forgiven us. This teaches us to overcome envy through forgiveness as when we forgive another person, their successes become of smaller importance and helps us to better appreciate the success of others.

Using Our Sinful Envy as a Positive

Envy does not have to be a negative emotion that dominates our life. We can use envy in a way that enables us to show gratitude for what we have, and aspire to reach new goals. Instead of resenting the success of others, we can strive to plan our own paths of success. We can use envy to drive is to work harder and be determined to reach our goals.
When things feel like too much and we become consumed by envy, it is important to remind ourselves of the blessings that are in our lives and the gifts that God has bestowed upon us. Through education, use of resources, and the support of family and friends, we can strive to achieve more and be productive.

Sacrifices Made to Achieve Our Goals

In order to reach our goals, there are sacrifices to be made along the way that may be uncomfortable, however, these sacrifices are necessary in order to reach our highest potential. It is essential to realize that not all of life’s outcomes will be enjoyed immediately, but the journey can be just as rewarding. To combat the feelings of envy, focus on hard work and dedication to reach the goal.
To be immune to the effects of envy, it requires a strong faith in God’s plan. Envy may come and go, however, it is up to us to handle these feelings in a mature way. With the power of the Holy Spirit and the trust of God, it is evident that jealousy has no place in the life of a Christian.

Gratitude as a Shield

The antidote to envy is gratitude. Being thankful for what we have in life will help to keep envy at bay. Instead of looking to the success of others and wishing for possessions, we must be grateful for the generous gifts we have been gifted with. Expressing this thankfulness can come in the form of prayer and meditating on the blessings in our lives.
The power of gratitude is a contending force against envy. When feeling jealous, we can become angry and bitter, however, when feeling thankful, we can become more relaxed and look forward to what is yet to come. Gratitude pulls us away from envy and helps us to focus on the love and joy that can be found in life.

Moderating Our Expectations

The Bible speaks of not letting our expectations get too high. It is easy to become envious when our dreams do not become reality. We should be realistic in our goals, set expectations that are manageable and reasonable. Feeling envy out of disappointment of failed expectations is unnecessary, and it separates us from God’s will.
Moderating our expectations is a great way to handle envy in our lives. We must understand that not everything will go as planned and there will be roadblocks throughout our lives. However, when we narrow our sights and remember what really matters and take it all in stride, we can persevere through the envy and be productive.


The Bible speaks of envy as a sinful act that should be avoided at all costs. According to the Old Testament and Colossians 3:12-14, it is revealed that envy can lead to negative behavior and additional sin. To cope with the feeling of envy and malice, we must recognize the blessings that God has given us and look to Him for unconditional love.
By putting our trust in His plan, it will be easier to move away from the feelings of envy. Through forgiveness and having an attitude of gratitude, it becomes easier to find peace and joy. Finally, by moderating our expectations, we can stay optimistic and away from unwanted feelings of envy.

Marcos Reyna is a Christian author and speaker. He is dedicated to helping create disciples of Christ through spreading the power of the gospel to others. He has written several books and articles on a variety of theological topics, including matters of faith, worship, biblical studies, practical ethics, and social justice. A trained theologian and devotee of spiritual writing, Marcos has a mission to spread Christian love everywhere. He lives with his family in Nashville, TN where he spends his days encouraging others to seek Christ's grace in all things.

Leave a Comment