What is envy? According to the Oxford Dictionary envy is a ‘discontented or resentful longing aroused by another’s possessions, qualities, or luck’. The Holy Scripture states that “for all toil and every skillful work a man is envied by his neighbour” (Ecclesiastes 4:4 – NKJV), and this is confirmed by the following incident written in the Scripture: “Then Isaac sowed in that land, and received in the same year an hundredfold: and the LORD blessed him. And the man waxed great, and went forward, and grew until he became very great: For he had possession of flocks, and possession of herds, and great store of servants: and the Philistines envied him. For all the wells which his father's servants had digged in the days of Abraham his father, the Philistines had stopped them, and filled them with earth” (Genesis 26:12-15).

Wisdom says that “envy is rottenness to the bones” (Proverbs 14:30 – NKJV); therefore it consumes or eats away to the marrow those who walk in it. Envy is one of the works of the flesh (Galatians 5:21), therefore we must flee it.

Why should we avoid being envious of a brother, if he is successful in his work or God answers his prayer or he is successful in the ministry God has given him? Because we are members of one another and we form one body. Let us suppose that someone compliments you on the beauty of your eyes and your arm is annoyed for the compliments received by your eyes, or that a member of your body is angry and hates another member of your body because it has a different function, what would you think? Would you not think that some of your members are walking in an unworthy manner. Likewise, those who are envious of other brothers, do not conduct themselves in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Christ.

Paul says that “if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it” (1 Corinthians 12:26), this is the right thing we must do when our brothers are honored by God, we must rejoice with them. Just as David did, for in the Psalms David said first: “May the Lord answer you in the day of trouble ….. may He grant you according to your heart’s desire, and fulfill all your purpose” (Psalm 20:1,4 – NKJV), and then he said: “We will rejoice in your salvation, and in the name of our God we will set up our banners!” (Psalm 20:5 – NKJV).

Obviously, there are some who don’t heed the Word of God and, being full of envy, rise up against some brothers because they see that God is with them and honor them in a particular ministry, but these people don’t walk in a manner worthy of the Gospel, for they lead a disorderly life and in due season the Lord will repay them according to their works.

Bear in mind always that those who are envious of another person conduct themselves badly toward that person who is envied by them, for envy only leads to evil, this is confirmed by the conduct of the Philistines toward Isaac, for – as we saw before – the Scripture says that they stopped up all the wells which his father’s servants had dug in the days of Abraham his father and they filled them with earth. But there are other passages of the Scripture which confirm this, here they are.

● “And the patriarchs, becoming envious, sold Joseph into Egypt” (Acts 7:9 – NKJV).

● “They envied Moses in the camp, and Aaron the saint of the Lord” (Psalm 106:16 – NKJV); these words refer to Korah, Dathan and Abiram and to other Israelites who gathered together against Moses and Aaron accusing them of exalting themselves above the assembly of the Lord (Numbers 16:1-3).

● “Then the high priest rose up, and all they that were with him (which is the sect of the Sadducees) and were filled with envy, and laid their hands on the apostles, and put them in the common prison” (Acts 5:17-18).

● “On the next Sabbath almost the whole city came together to hear the word of God. But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy; and contradicting and blaspheming, they opposed the things spoken by Paul” (Acts 13:44-45 - NKJV).

However, we must not be envious only of the righteous who are blessed by God, but also of the wicked who prosper, for the Scripture says: “Do not fret because of evildoers, nor be envious of the workers of iniquity” (Psalm 37:1 – NKJV), and again: “Do not let your heart envy sinners” (Proverbs 23:17 – NKJV). The reason is always the same, because it leads only to evil.