Envy, The Close Cousin Of Jealousy

love_envyWith love being such an exploited word, we can get an accurate picture of what love truly is when we examine scripture. We know that love is patient andkind. Paul communicates to us through these two words that love never seeks revenge, and it is always gentle. Now we come to the first aspect of love stated in the negative, “Love does not envy.”

Envy, the close cousin of jealousy, is such a beguiling and insidious detriment to a loving relationship. What is the difference between envy and jealousy? Envy seeks to possess what someone else has, while jealousy is the fear that someone else will take what we have. Neither allow love to thrive.

I know what you are thinking, “Envy is not something that is really present in my marriage.” I thought the same thing until the full ramifications of Paul’s statement mentally T-boned me. Sometimes, envy does show up in my marriage. The problem is, none of us ever want to admit to being envious. Who wants to proudly declare, “I have a problem with envy?” It is also such a sneaky little sin; it can slither into your heart and relationship just beyond our awareness.

Envy tends to show up in two different ways within a marriage, one is an internal problem and the other external. How many times have I been envious of my wife getting to sleep a couple of extra hours, of her time off, of the kids relating to her better, or her excellent penmanship (seriously, her handwriting is amazing while mine looks like a third graders)? There is no end to the things one partner can be envious of in the others life. It can be the skills they have, the personality they possess that shines, the friends that care for them, the job they have, the hobbies they have mastered, the money they make, the relaxation they get, the recognition they receive, or the schedule they have.

I have seen envy slide into a relationship, and it slowly dismantle the marriage from the inside. Envy leads to bitterness, and bitterness leads to isolation. Paul says, love does not envy. Instead, love says, “Hey good for you! You have a day off, that is wonderful! You got to sleep until 9? I hope you feel refreshed because you needed some rest. The kids want you to put them to bed? I hope you enjoy the time with them.” Love celebrates the success and good fortune of the other person.

The second way envy shows up in marriage is when one spouse looks beyond their marriage at the qualities of other people. It’s when a husband wishes his wife looked more like his friends. It is when a wife would prefer if her husband could act more like someone else’s husband. Envy often shows up when one partner overlooks the many good qualities in their spouse and focuses on the deficits. They then find other people that seem to have what their spouse lacks. This is playing marital roulette. No partner in marriage is perfect. When one starts to look elsewhere for the qualities their spouse lacks, a fertile soil has been readied for the seed of infidelity to be planted. We must love our spouse for who they are, and remember that no one is perfect, including us. It is easy sometime to idealize the relationships of others, but the truth is, every person and relationship has its own set of strengths and weaknesses.

Love does not envy. It always celebrates the good fortune of others. Let’s make sure we rejoice with our spouse when they are blessed, and in the areas they fall short let’s be reminded of all the good they bring into our lives.

Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.



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