This is one issue with which we all must wrestle to some degree or another. Today, the temptation is greater than ever to compare ourselves to other women, especially on social media. It’s practically impossible to avoid.
As an identical twin, I understand how easy (and dangerous) it is to constantly compare yourself to someone else. It is a miserable way to live.
How do I measure up as a mom, a wife, or a career woman compared to all of these other women around me? How does my body compare? How does my marriage compare? Is my ministry as popular as hers? Do I have as many followers on Instagram? Am I smarter? Am I more wealthy?
Do other women have it better than I do?
Bible Gateway defines envy like this:
The Eng. word “envy” comes from the Lat. word invidere “in—against”; videre—“to look at”), meaning “to look askance at,” or “to have hatred or ill will toward another.” It is a feeling of displeasure and ill will because of another’s advantages, possessions, etc.; a malignant feeling toward another who possesses that which one greatly desires.
Envy leads to discontentment – never to peace.
- Why does she get to be married and I don’t?
- Why does she get to have a more romantic husband than I do?
- Why does she have another baby and I don’t even have one?
- Why are her kids so much better behaved than mine?
- Why does she have her entire life together and I don’t?
- Why does she get an easy, cushy, wonderful life and I have had so many trials and problems?
- Why does she have the perfect body and I struggle with my weight?
Ultimately, the root of envy is pride.
- I deserve the best.
- I am the best.
- I am better than other people.
- I know best.
- I have to be the most beautiful.
- I have to be the most desirable.
- I know better than God does.
- It is my right to have anything I want.
- It is not fair if anyone else has something good that I don’t have.
When we operate in the sinful nature, we operate in pride and envy. These things come naturally and are some of the most dangerous sins. They are secret sins, many times, because they start in our thoughts.
We may be able to hide them for awhile from others, but they can easily lead to a much bigger mess.
Envy makes so many judgments that someone else “has it better,” but we don’t always know the whole situation. And we don’t know the outcome yet, either—in this life or eternity. So how can we measure for sure that their life is ultimately better?
And what if something about another person’s life IS better than mine in this life?
Can’t that be okay?
We truly aren’t able to accurately assess whether someone else’s life, marriage, or children are “better” than ours. We don’t know the secret struggles and pain of others. Especially on social media, sometimes we only see the “airbrushed” version of another woman’s life, not the real thing.
Jesus calls us to a whole different paradigm:
We can’t be grateful when we are jealous of other people.
- But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. James 3:14-16
- God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble. James 4:7
Jesus calls us to live by the Spirit and to die to our sinful self, our pride, and our envy. Envy will destroy us and our relationship with God and other people. It will make us sick physically. It will drive us toward hatred, resentment, bitterness, malice, and even violence.
And the saddest thing of all,
Envy causes us to be blind to all the spiritual blessings God intended for us in our trials or specific situations. It causes us to miss the gifts we do have and take them for granted.
We often resist and fight against the very things God wants to use to humble us and to help us grow stronger.
What if instead of fighting and scrambling to be the most noticed, the most well-liked, the most popular, the most beautiful to people, the most famous, etc… we took an opposite approach?
What if we decided to be content with nothing but Jesus?
We could determine that we only want:
- His will, whatever it may be.
- His greatest glory.
- His Name to be exalted.
- His praises.
- His assignment for us, however lowly.
- His presence.
- What is best in light of eternity.
We would find that we only care about what Jesus thinks and His approval and we would finally be set free from people-pleasing, perfectionism, and looking for the approval of other people.
Jesus hates when we have envy in our lives because it is toxic for us and our relationships. It’s impossible to love God and people properly when we are busy being upset that we don’t have what they have.
But when we live in gratitude, there is blessing overflowing to every relationship in our lives—even to ourselves.
We all face the temptation to compare ourselves to others and to feel jealous. But we don’t have to sink down into the icky muck.
20 Tips to Kill Envy
- Tear it out of your mind as soon as you notice it.
- Starve it. Don’t give it attention or fuel. Avoid TV, social media, or anything that feeds it.
- Ask God to help you see if these things you are so jealous of could be idols in your heart.
- Focus on the blessings and good things in your own life.
- Start a Gratitude Journal and add to it throughout the day.
- Recognize that your understanding of what is truly good and best is limited at any moment in time
- Trust that God is good and invite Him to bring beauty from every situation in your life.
- Remember that each person’s life and gifts are unique. Our differences showcase God in special ways.
- Thank and praise God that He uses all things, the good and the bad, for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purposes – so that He can conform us into the image of Christ. (Rom. 8:28-29)
- Yield fully to God’s Lordship. Invite God to do ALL He wants to do in and through you.
- Ask Him to give you what He knows is best for you specifically in each season of your life, even if you can’t see it at the time.
- Accept trials as godly discipline to help you mature spiritually and to strengthen your faith and love for the Lord. (James 1:2-4, Heb. 12:7)
- Examine your heart to be sure you don’t believe toxic lies about God, yourself, or others.
- Sing praises to God and delight in Him.
- Remember that God is the Greatest Treasure in all the universe and He wholeheartedly gives Himself to anyone who seeks Him with all his/her heart. There is no greater gift any of us can have than a close walk with the Lord! And He is fully available to each of us.
- Thank God for the good things other women have. Thank Him for their gifts. Ask Him to bless them for His glory and do what is best for them.
- Forgive other people for having something you don’t have. Release your bitterness.
- Catch yourself if you begin to fantasize about wishing you had what someone else had, or what you may think she has. Take your thoughts captive for Christ and replace them with God-honoring thoughts.
- Choose contentment in Christ.
- Be excited for the unique adventure God has just for you.
If this is a struggle for you, what (generally) seems to trigger envy for you the most? What step can you take this week to starve jealousy and feed gratitude in this area?
If you have experienced God’s healing or have godly wisdom to share, we’d love to hear about that, as well.
Envy by www.biblestudytools.com
Pride by www.biblestudytools.com
What Does the Bible Say about Envy? by www.gotquestions.org
Yes, it is indeed a miserable feeling. Sometimes I have noticed that it is a signal that we need to do something.
I remember reading a story about a woman who was watching television with her boyfriend. They had been in a relationship for a long time and had gotten comfortable with each other and she had put on some weight. They were watching a female volleyball team and her guy says something like ” Wow, their abs and thighs are just sick, they are killing it! You should get in great shape like that”. Her reaction was offended, bitter and angry and she dumped him on the spot after a big fight about what an insensitive swine he was for ” putting her down”. Later on, after she had some space of months and time to think more honestly with herself, she realized she wasn’t unhappy because of what he said, she had already felt unhappy with herself for letting herself go and sliding into a sloppy life in which she no longer took care of herself. She used to be a disciplined and athletic person.
I guess in a way envy is wasted effort? Like Cain misdirecting it all towards Abel when his problem was really an attitude of heart problem that led to jealousy and murder, as well as being rooted in disobedience, we might be envious of someone else because they are doing what they ought to do and so are being rewarded, while we covet the rewards but don’t want to put in the efforts.
I’ve seen this in high school with myself and others. There was a family of girls who always cleaned up the awards at the end of the year . We would kind of look at them with an attitude and make fun of them but really, we were jealous because they were doing well and we were too busy trying to be cool and in and worrying about approval. They were diligent and obedient we were lazy and had wrong values.
Is it fair then to be upset and resentful of a woman who has a nice behind and a great figure when she works out and I am putting chocolate cake and donuts in my mouth and doing a lot of couch time in front of the tv? While some of us have good genetics that make it easier to gain muscle and lose weight, its not outside the reach of the vast majority of us. It is just hard to tell ourselves the truth and admit, we are in the shape we are in, spiritually, emotionally and physically, because of what we think is the way the truth and the life.
I agree with all you said here, esp. the part of being content in Jesus and trusting Him to assign things to us instead of being always vulnerable and unsteady because we are trying to have it all according to the flesh and it leaves us insecure and like a city without walls.
Thank you for sharing!
Yes, sometimes, instead of giving in to jealousy, it would be wise for us to focus on being better stewards of the gifts and abilities we have. That would be more productive. Of course, we don’t want to work on ourselves just to try to beat others. But to do our best for the Lord to honor Him.
And yes, contentment in Christ is the best place to be in the world!
I agree with all of your strategies on avoiding envy.
I actually avoid social media because it is so false and triggers envy. My pastor calls Facebook “Fake-book” because it only reflects the highlights of others’ lives and not the gritty reality of their lives. I have friends who are going through painful divorces and their Fake-book profiles are always full of many positive and beautiful images of their children, friends and parents. No one would ever guess that they spend most of their days and nights crying over their painful trials.
Another powerful strategy to kill envy is to tithe to your church. As of December 2019, I was giving 3% of my monthly salary to church. My plan for 2020 is to increase my donations to my church 10% by increasing my donations by 1% per month. It’s only been a few weeks but I can already sense the powerful spiritual transformation that is occurring in my soul. I have become more peaceful and content in Christ, more grateful for my many blessings and more relaxed about where I am in my life, my career and my finances.
Just two months ago, I was sad and frustrated with my career and finances and with only having one child and was burning with envy towards those who have better jobs, more money and more than one child. Right now, I’m peaceful and happy with my life, happy with my one child and don’t feel much envy and bitterness towards others anymore. Tithing is a powerful envy-killer and contentment-builder. I highly recommend it to everyone!
Thank you so much for sharing!
Yes, FaceBook is often a very glossy and rosy picture that isn’t completely accurate. It’s good that people don’t post terrible things about their marriages online. But it still can lead to a fairytale looking life that isn’t reality. For those who are sensitive to this and tend to compare ourselves, it can be best to avoid the whole scene!
Walking in faith and in obedience to the Lord is a fantastic plan. Whether it is tithing, or other issues. We are blessed spiritually when we walk in joyful obedience through the power of the Spirit.
So excited about what the Lord is doing in your life!
Can you do a post on tithing? I’m a bit confused about the right way to do it. Some blogs advise that we give 10% to church while others advise that we give 5% to church and another 5% to various Christian charities. What do you advise is best?
I have a post on tithing here.
The main thing is, in the Old Testament a tithe was required by the law to provide for the Levites (who were the religious leaders, the doctors, and the government).
In the New Testament, there is not a command to tithe, but rather a command to give joyfully and generously. Many Christians decide to tithe. There are many ways different people do it. We personally tithe 10% to our church.
This is something each couple can pray about and do as God leads.
There are those believers who give much more than 10%. Some even give 90% and just live on 10%. I think that is AWESOME!!!!
Nikki’s take on tithing as an envy killer, or perhaps trust and contentment promoter, is awesome. Totally agree with her about “Fakebook” also.
I don’t know if my comment belongs here, but sometimes when I am disappointed with something my husband does, I compare myselt to my friends and family and their husbands, because in my eyes, I recognize their husband’s faults and would hate for my husband to be like that, (i.e. specific character trait) and it turns into great appreciation for my husband. It really does help me.
If we are going to compare our husbands to other people, this might be a better way to do it. I think it can be helpful to realize that all people have weaknesses, and some weaknesses probably would be a lot more painful to deal with than some of our own husband’s weaknesses may be.
I’m so thankful that God can use everything, the good and the bad about our husbands, our children, and every situation, in our lives for our ultimate good to help conform us to the image of Christ.
Thanks for sharing!
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