A Journal for Bible Teachers

Conquering the Ancient Foes of Envy & Jealousy

Conquering the Ancient Foes of Envy & Jealousy

Envy by definition is “to dislike, to oppose, to have ill will against another who possesses some advantage or something superior.” Isaac’s neighbors, the Philistines, envied him because he was mightily blessed of God, and they urged him to leave the region by stopping up all his wells. Envy is a major reason for the stopping of revival wells (Genesis 26:12-16). Genesis 30:1 tells us that “Rachel envied her sister” because Leah had children but Rachel was barren. See also Genesis 37:5, Acts 7:9.

Envy blinded the theologians of Jesus’ time so that they were unable to recognize their Messiah or understand His teachings. They were well aware that His authority was far superior to theirs, for “He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes” (Matthew 7:28,29). Thus, they envied Jesus. Even reprobate Pilate understood that it was envy that prompted the chief priests to deliver Jesus to him to be crucified (Matthew 27:18, Mark 15:10). Envy is what nailed Jesus to the cross. Envy is one of the works of the flesh mentioned in Galatians 5:21. Carried to an extreme, envy can destroy the soul.

Jealousy can be summed up as “the demand to be number one.” Jealousy opposes all rivals. When David became competition to King Saul, the king tried to kill him. “Jealousy is as cruel as the grave” (Song of Solomon 8:6). In Exodus 34:14, God’s very title is “Jealous”, yet He alone reserves the right to demand to be Number One because He is the owner of the universe. Yet when man tries to exalt himself and draw men to himself, he is cursed with a perverted, vexatious spirit of jealousy. Envy and jealousy have separate meanings but hold several things in common: both revolve around the sin of competing and comparing oneself with others, and both are the result of an uncrucified ego.

Envy and jealousy originated long before man. It started with comparison. Lucifer looked at the One on the throne and coveted His singular position. Lucifer wanted to be the center of attention and the object of all worship. Envy and jealousy are the two evils that have motivated Satan ever since. In the near future, Satan will produce an imposter for the world to see, and indwell a man who “magnifies himself above every god” (Daniel 11:36, 2 Thessalonians 2:3,4). This “beast” will show great animosity toward anyone who does not worship and hail him as number one. Jealousy is portrayed by Haman, who sought to exterminate the Jewish race because one man (Mordecai) did not bow to him (Esther 3:5,6).

With the fall of mankind in Eden, the evils of envy and jealousy soon became the instruments that brought about the first murder. Abel’s life and offerings were acceptable to God, but Cain’s were not. Comparing himself with his younger brother who was more righteous than he, Cain hated him and slew him (1 John 3:11,12). This ‘slaying of the righteous by the wicked’ will be reenacted many times over in our day. The true Christians will be hated by the followers of the false Christ and the false prophet (Matthew 24:9, Revelation 6:9-11). It is interesting that the righteous never attack the wicked; it is the wicked who always attack the righteous. But the motivation behind it all is envy and jealousy. Jealousy (called emulations in the KJV), is also one of the works of the flesh (Galatians 5:20). Like envy, jealousy, if it is not brought under subjection can also destroy the soul eternally..

Several years ago, twelve missionaries in Africa gathered together daily to pray for a visitation from God. Suddenly God answered their prayers, and a thousand people surrounded the little compound as God began to move by His Spirit and perform miracles. The sad part of the story is this, and it is all too common: Two of the ladies who prayed the most fervently for the revival were the first to oppose it. What was the problem?—It was envy and jealousy. Perhaps God was using people they did not like or deem worthy. Whatever problems they may have had in their lives, we can see how these unresolved “heart problems” distorted and opposed what God was doing.

God’s fire causes vipers like this to manifest. In Acts 28:3, the fire that Paul started caused a snake to come out in the open and fasten onto his hand. Before revival fire comes, let us ask God to deal privately with these little curled up snakes of envy and jealousy. Let us now consider some of the remedies God has for these maladies.

Ten Cures for Envy and Jealousy

1. A Pure Heart – Pure Motives
This means our whole objective is to bring glory to God alone, while we ourselves stay hidden behind the cross. When a man has pure motives, he will never be tormented with jealousy. But that is not the case for those who seek their own glory. Paul told us that some ministers indeed, “preach Christ even out of envy and [rivalry]” (Philippians 1:15). Are we building our own kingdom, or God’s? Are we driven with ambition, or are we striving to make God number one. Are we trying to make our own name great, or are we exalting His name?

2. No Comparing
When men boast that their church is the fastest growing in the region, they are comparing. Paul tells us that by measuring ourselves and comparing ourselves with one another, we are not wise (cf. 2 Corinthians 10:12). The Word of God commands us not to do this. Peter looked at John one day and said, “Lord, what will this man do?” (John 21:20,21). The Lord answered and said in effect, “It is not important what your brother is doing, just follow me.”

3. No Competing
Even the twelve apostles were not exempt from the spirit of competition, as they argued around the communion table “who should be accounted the greatest” (Luke 22:19-26). What did it take to break the spirit of competition in these early apostles? It required the deathblow of failure in that they all forsook Jesus in the Garden. Next they saw their Lord brutally slain. After these things, we soon find them all together in the upper room in one accord.

4. Do Not Care Who Gets the Credit
Former US president, Ronald Reagan, said: “There is no limit to what a man can accomplish, if he does not care who gets the credit.” Now if we are only seeking to draw attention to God, and not to ourselves, why should we care who gets the credit for anything that is accomplished for God? Remember, “The Lord who sees in secret shall reward you openly” (Matthew 6:6). Do we really believe this, or does our faith need more purifying? (1 Peter 1:7). Are we seeking to glorify God, or are we seeking our own glory? See John 5:44, 12:43.

5. Esteem Others Better Than Yourselves
This is the setting aside of ego and putting on the garments of humility and brotherly kindness. Paul exhorts: “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves” (Philippians 2:3,4). Also, he tells us, “in honor preferring one another” (Romans 12:10). Humility is the key to unity, and it is the key to conquering envy and jealousy.

6. Have Your Own Promises From God
When you have your own promises from God, it gives you immense inner strength, and then you do not look at others or measure yourself with them. Abraham had promises from God. Therefore he never felt threatened by others and he never worried about people confiscating anything from him. When there was a strife over land, he gave Lot the first choice of territory (Genesis 13:5-9). He could afford to be generous because he knew that one day he would be the owner of all the land anyway. Ask God for personal promises, even promises that go beyond this life into eternity. When you have promises, you will win the victory over envy and jealousy, and also you will be a very secure person.

7. Understand That God’s Acceptance of Others is Not His Rejection of You
The Jews believed that they were God’s chosen people above all others. Therefore, when God accepted the Gentiles and made them fellow-heirs of the same promises, they were moved with jealousy. They did not want to share their position of being number one with anyone else. Thus, they contradicted and blasphemed Paul’s message. See Acts 13:42-45. The Jews should have accepted the Gospel with joy and rejoiced to share it with other hungry souls. God’s acceptance of the Gentiles was not a rejection of the Jews. It was to their honor that the Good News was going out from Israel to all the other nations of the world.

8. Appreciate the Function of Other Members of the Body
We are only a part of the Body, and we are interdependent upon one another for survival. Therefore, we should appreciate the function of other members, rather than compete with them. Every organ of the body is different, but vita,l to the well being of the rest of the body. Sometimes people struggle with self-rejection because they feel their function is less important than others. Paul deals with this attitude in his writings to the Corinthians. See 1 Corinthians 12:15,16: “The foot cannot say, because I am not as important as the hand, therefore I am no good at all. Or, the ear cannot say, because I am not as important as the eye, I am not important at all.” No! This is insecurity and self-rejection, and this fosters envy. Some parts of the body are covered and some are seen, but this does not mean that the parts that are covered are not as important. There are many keys on a piano, and some are sounded more than others, but this does not mean that the keys that are used less often are not important. What would a piece of music sound like if certain keys were missing?

9. Realize We Are All in Different Seasons
This is another reason we cannot compare ourselves with others. The Apostle John is only mentioned in two accounts in the book of Acts, but Peter stands out as the predominate figure in much of the book. Peter blossomed earlier in life, but John came forth later in life. John emerged to the forefront thirty years after Peter had died. And John, perhaps, had the loudest thunder of all when he wrote the book of Revelation and his Gospel.

10. Have the Love of God Perfected in You
First Corinthians 13 tells us that love does not envy, and does not seek her own [is not self-seeking], which is the root of jealousy (See 1 Corinthians 13:4-6). Envy and jealousy are the exact opposite of divine love. Love is unselfish, but envy and jealousy are self-seeking and self-centered. The young Corinthians envied one another, and the immature Galatians devoured one another, but Paul calls them both “little children” (1 Corinthians 3:1-3, Galatians 4:19).


Let us grow into spiritual manhood, which is reflected by the unselfish, divine nature of brotherly love and unity, for it is here that the Lord commands the blessing, even life, forevermore (Psalms 133).

About the Author

Dr. Paul G. Caram is an author and international lecturer on the subject of Christian growth. The powerful truths presented in his seminars have transformed hearts and helped many to find fresh direction and new meaning in their lives. Dr. Paul Caram offers many valuable keys that help the believer gain freedom from the bondages of habits and personal struggles. He shows the believer how to find peace in his own heart first, which leads to unity with others.

A graduate of Elim Bible Institute in New York in 1969, and thirty years as a pastor and teacher, Dr. Paul Caram is the vice-chancellor of Zion Ministerial Institute in Waverly, New York, and vice president of Zion Ministerial Institute’s International Correspondence Course program. His books are in over 50 nations of the world in several languages. Dr. Paul Caram and his wife Betsy have pastored Zion Christian Assembly in Ulysses, Pa (United States). for eighteen years.

Dr. Paul Caram received a Diploma of Ministerial Training (Dip. Min.) from Elim Bible Institute. He also has received a Doctorate of Religion (Ph. D.) from Vision Christian Bible College.

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