1 Peter – Chapter Two IV

by Ed Urzi

“Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind” (1 Peter 2:1 NIV).

“Envy” is an emotion that produces a sense of discontent and/or resentment when others are blessed or successful. One source associates “envy” with “…the feeling of displeasure produced by witnessing or hearing of the advantage or prosperity of others.” (1) If an envious person cannot secure the talents, qualities, assets, or accomplishments that others possess, he or she may seek to belittle or ridicule such things. While malice and envy are loosely related, malice incorporates an active desire to hurt someone else.

Envy is a longing that compels us to pursue something that is superior or more desirable than what others possess. We can often identify the presence of envy by taking an honest and objective assessment of our attitudes towards others. For instance, are we displeased with those who possess more than we do? Do we resent their achievements? Do we feel as if we are more deserving of the success they enjoy?

These characteristics (and others like them) are inconsistent with a God-honoring mindset…

“But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such ‘wisdom’ does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice” (James 3:14-16).

In fact, the Biblical Scriptures devote a surprising amount of content to this subtle (and often hidden) characteristic. A look at the verses below reveals the extent to which envy can work its way into our lives…

“Then I observed that most people are motivated to success because they envy their neighbors. But this, too, is meaningless—like chasing the wind” (Ecclesiastes 4:4 NLT).

“A tranquil mind gives health to the body, but envy rots the bones” (Proverbs 14:30 CJB).

“Once we, too, were foolish and disobedient; we were misled by others and became slaves to many evil pleasures and wicked desires. Our lives were full of resentment and envy. We hated others and they hated us” (Titus 3:3 TLB).

Finally, we should note the role that false teaching plays in promoting envy…

“If anyone teaches false doctrine and does not agree with the sound teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ and with the teaching that promotes godliness, he is conceited and understands nothing, but has an unhealthy interest in disputes and arguments over words. From these come envy, quarreling, slander, evil suspicions, and constant disagreement among people whose minds are depraved and deprived of the truth, who imagine that godliness is a way to material gain” (1 Timothy 6:3-5 CSB).

(1) Vines, W. E., M. A. Entry for ‘Envy, Envying’. Vine’s Expository Dictionary of NT Words. https://www.studylight.org/?dictionaries/?eng/?ved/?e/envy-envying.html. 1940.