Envy is a predatory behavior filled with potential for all kinds of evil.
The history of envy began with the ambition of a powerful being who wanted the place of God himself. He declared, “I will make myself like the Most High” (Isaiah 14:14).
This being spread his envious spirit to the human race when he introduce what has been called, “The suspicion of Eden” – a suggestion that humans should desire the place of God – “You will be like God…” (Genesis 3:1-6).
Envy emerged in the first human family as the primary motive for the first act of homicide. Cain killed his brother Abel out of envy (Genesis 4). Later in the New Testament, we learn that Cain, “belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother” (I John 3:12), allowed envy to be a prelude of the heart to homicide (Genesis 4).
Envy was also the motive behind the most vicious crime of history, the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. We learn that, “the leading priests arrested Jesus out of envy” (Mark 15:10).
Envy is fueled by the all too common sins of ingratitude and discontentment. It feeds on a surveying kind spirit that looks at the blessings of others with resentment.
Envy vandalizes joy and destroys joyful community.
We’ve experienced the way envy can ruin friendship. A friend once changed her attitude toward us when we received a blessing. She resented us for the blessing we received. She then spread her resentment by trying to turn another friend against us.
Someone suggested that envy is a venom whose anti-venom is hard to find. The only anti-venom powerful enough is love — which “…does not delight in evil” (I Corinthians 13:5-6).
When nurtured, envy targets its object and desires to destroy it. An envious person doesn’t merely covet what another has; he resents him for having it. The envious person wants to see you fall; to see you lose; to see you suffer. Envy is evil and vicious but it ultimately destroys the person who relishes in it. “Envy rots the bones, but a heart at peace gives life to the body” (Proverbs 14:30).
Envy fuels a form of social cannibalism where we feast on others to feed and exalt ourselves. It’s a predatory behavior.
Envy starts early in life as siblings tattle on each other and find pleasure in seeing a brother or sister get in trouble. But don’t think the behavior is left behind with childhood. Adults are more insidiously guilty — albeit in more disguised ways.
Envy is a universal evil found in every culture and class of people. It’s often prevalent among refined and ostensibly religious people. The Germans call it schadenfreude – a twisted and sadistic pleasure in the misfortune of others.