From the natural standpoint, it is normal to feel bad if one’s friend fails. However, one tends to feel even worse when one’s friend seems to be getting ahead or doing better than one. Some have even come to accept this feeling as a challenge to make them do better than the person too. Excuse me, better in what? Isn’t each one’s life’s journey distinct from and mutually exclusive?
When our friends do well and we feel life is unfair or we feel cheated by those friends, or feel more deserving of their blessings, then something must be wrong with us. Envy is a subtle poison that can cause irreparable damage if not decisively dealt with. It is a disposition that confirms that we are not expecting new things to happen to us. We would not feel bad if we’re anticipating something delightful.
It is true that there is always an offset in the balance of friendship when a party’s quality of living improves, but it is also true that this feeling comes to make us either step up and be better people or stirred up in the negative emotions which result in subtraction (no feeling leaves you midway).
Scripturally, we saw the first occurrence of envy from the man Cain with the first victim being his brother, Abel. If you think that envy is a normal emotion, you might have to consider that it degenerates into bitterness, hatred, strife and even murder. You won’t doubt this fact when you remember that it was envy that made Cain the first murderer.
Listen carefully, envy stems out of a mentality or reality of being inadequate as the story of Cain and Abel reveals. It is a perfect expression of hopelessness, deprivation and distrust of God. Sometimes it stirs up resentments against God and it has a force that separates us from loved ones who are doing great things when, in fact, it is close association with greatness that rubs off on us all.
The attributes of envy include wanting to share how you did something better than someone only immediately after that person shared his own feats, comparison of oneself with the other person, and the fear that pompous friends would rub their successes in one’s face.
It is gratifying to God when we wish people the quality of life that God wants for them. This will enhance the quality of our relationship and strength of our connection with God. That, in my opinion, is the cheapest way to share in the root and fatness of the nature of God. God’s sole intent for creation at the beginning was to give life, multiply it and add premium quality (replenish) to it (Genesis 28:22). He stopped at nothing till He put His very essence on the line by sharing in our humanity in the person of Jesus Christ. Whoever improves the quality of other people’s lives expresses this attribute of God called love (John 3:16).
To love people is actually to enhance the quality of their lives rather than wishing they were perpetually below us. The real measure of true greatness is how engrafted we are into God’s nature through love, and therein should lie the “competition” – we ought to be competing against the standards of love, not against one another.
This creates a sense of positive expectation which effectively quells envious feelings, thus, confirming God’s good intention towards us. It is an act of trust that God is not going to mismanage our lives if indeed we have yielded it to Him. This mental and spiritual posture pleases God and commits him to work on our behalf such that eventually, we also enjoy the good things that we have celebrated in the lives of other people.