How Do We Handle Envy? A Round Table Discussion {Part 2 of 4}

Welcome back to “A Round Table Discussion”!

Our conversation highlights envy this week – how to battle it well. Abby McDonald, Lisa Appelo, Tiffany Parry, Betsy de Cruz, and Kristine Brown are joining us as we throw the covers off envy. After all, it’s a temptation most of us face. Why not talk about how to conquer it effectively?

Find part 1 of 4 here

Let’s grab our seat at A Round Table and continue the discussion today.

3. Have you encountered envy?

Lisa Appelo: Pick a day, any day. I think we’re so used to envious impulses we don’t even realize how often they happen. Facebook and Instagram have only escalated the trippers because we now have constant windows into our friends’ lives and homes. I’m often hit with a double whammy – first the depressing effects of envy and then the guilt from realizing I’m envious. The guilt is especially bad when I realize I’ve envied a dear friend.

Kristine Brown: Even though I know everyone has encountered envy, it still feels icky to reveal my envious thoughts. Envy can attack every area of our lives. Reliationships, work, even ministry.

Not long ago my husband and I pastored a small church in our community. God blessed us with a loving congregation, outstanding facilities, and a vision for outreach. But when other churches in town thrived, I battled that spirit of envy. If someone left our church to attend another, I took it as a personal failure.

It’s oh-so-hard to admit that. Envy crept in undetected and caused me to doubt my calling. I wrote more about that struggle in an article for women 

Once I became aware of the envy and identified it for what it was – a lie from the enemy – I could look to God’s word for the answer.

Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it is the wellspring of life.

Pr. 4:23 WEB

Kristi Woods: I once found myself envious of an author who crossed the publication line before me. I was knee-deep in a manuscript, trying diligently to get to the finish line. When I saw their success, I immediately looked at my own supposed failure. The struggle with envy became real – and ugly – and fast!

In the midst of the battle, the Lord spoke something to the tune of this: Who are you to be upset if I’ve chosen them to do my work? There are lives on the other end of this book, waiting to be touched for eternal purposes – lives at stake. Isn’t it worth it? Look at the bigger ministry picture.

Those words shook me awake. I began praying in earnest – for forgiveness, for the author, the book, and for the audience.

Set a heart guard against envy. Be determined. Share on X

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4. Warning Signs of Envy

Tiffany Parry: We’ve all experienced this odd tension. Someone we know wins the prize, their talent is seen and recognized, and in our heart [hopefully] we want to be thrilled for their success. Maybe we’ll even go on to celebrate them. But behind those three cheers lies that nagging question … why them and not me?

Why them and not me? - @TiffParry Join us - #roundtable discussion on envy. Share on X

We can take that question to Jesus and submit to the truth that His plans for us are perfectly timed, or we can let that question plague us. I think that’s when envy takes root – when “them and not me” spirals into bitterness, anger, and even division. Even more dangerous is when we allow those unbalanced emotions, rather than God’s truth, dictate our words and actions.

The correction: return to Jesus. When envy tension creeps up, lean into the truth that your worth is measured by Jesus, not someone else’s success. He’s big enough to dictate the celebration He’s designed just for you.

Kristi Woods: I agree, Tiffany. Our God has individual, not cookie-cutter, plans for each of us. Why compare?

Envy looks like a tense mess in me, although you likely won’t see one bit of it. It happens behind the scenes, in the dark corners of my thoughts. An internal glare and banter begins about “that person.” An invisible wall begins to build between me and them. Inevitably, I feel “less than,” and sometimes discouragement sets it. It becomes more about me and less about Him. It’s rooted in selfishness, in pride. Wow – it feels ugly to offer that, but it’s true.

The Lord is faithful to show us how to recognize and squelch the banter when it’s birthed. As we grow in Christ and resolve to not let it take hold, we quiet envy’s voice at the onset and bring glory to God. I’m proof He’s trustworthy in this.

Action Step: What warning signs does envy offer you? Comment below. We’d love to hear your thoughts.

A Prayer for Road ~

Lord, You are good. You are faithful, and Your word is true. Show me how to guard my heart against envy, good Father. Open my eyes to its reach. May You gain the glory as it’s removed, and may love fill envy’s void. I’m Your vessel, Lord. Use me how You will. In Jesus’ name, amen. 

Join us tomorrow for part 3. Until then, guard your heart well, friend.

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  1. Such true words here, Kristi! Thank you so much to you and all of the other writers for sharing their hearts so transparently. As I read, I kept thinking about when right after Jesus told Peter to feed His lambs and His sheep, Peter looked at Jesus, and asked, “And what about this man?” I can just imagine that Peter was feeling the extreme weight of the cross Jesus was asking him to pick up and carry, and it must have looked like John was getting off scott-free, so to speak. Jesus quickly answered, (paraphrased in my own words), “Don’t worry about John and compare yourself and your ministry with his. It is none of your business what his individual path will look like. You just follow Me, and do what I am asking you to do.” I think we can become envious of the good things others have, but we can also become envious when it seems God is requiring far more from us than He is from them. I have struggled with this very much, at times, God forgive me. Thank you for this post…it really ministered to me today.

    1. I agree, Betsy. I’ve not thought of envy in the form of God requiring more. Cheryl, you’ve given me cause to pause and think a bit about this. Great comment!

      1. Yes Cheryl, I love how God knew we would need the stories of these men recorded for our own spiritual growth! So many times the disciples struggled with envy, just like we do. We can learn so much from Jesus’ loving response as He gently guided them. He guides us today in the same loving way. Thank you for this!

  2. so often we get caught up in envy but what is important is to acknowledge that you are envious & deal with it soon lest you become jealous and then another story will ensue! The ladies broke it down so well.

      1. True! I think so often it creeps in undetected. You are right. Part of our journey is learning to identify it and using Scripture as our weapon against it:)

  3. Kristi,
    Thanks for tackling a tough but important topic. I shared this quote of yours: “Our God has individual, not cookie-cutter, plans for each of us. Why compare?” That is what I remind myself and also that God is good and He knows what is best for each of us. Blessings to you 🙂

    1. Thanks for sharing, Dolly. Amen to the truth that God knows what is best for each of us. We’re wise to keep that front and center.

  4. I think I’m a little different than the average girl (maybe?) because the things I envy might be a little odd to others. I envy functional families, daughters who know and feel loved by their mothers and fathers. While I’m always happy for others, sometimes it can be hard to see that wholeness I crave and not wish it for myself. — Not the typical comparison issues, probably. 🙂 And, if I’m being real honest, I believe that’s probably why I don’t struggle too much with other types of envy/comparison — because I’m too busy trying to be “enough” that my competitions are with myself not so much others. (“Enough” for the love others are born into.) (Y’all might think I need therapy after reading this, *smile.*) (And, I probably do. 🙂 ) I think my big flashing warning sign is self-pity. — I love the version of that Prov. verse. “Keep your heart with all diligence.” — I don’t think I’ve read it version before. I wouldn’t describe self-pity as diligent. 🙂 I want that wellspring of life to be an offering rather than a sacrifice, ya know? (And, in my self-pity moments it’s barely a sacrifice, much less an offering!) Thanks for another great post today, ladies. Look forward to tomorrow!

    1. Brenda, you’re a gem! I have a feeling you’re not the only one who envies functional families. Seriously. And how good that you offered it as a comment today. See you tomorrow!

    2. I don’t think that’s unusual at all, Brenda. I also think of people who have lost loved ones. That comes to mind often because of the grief I see people going through. It can be hard to be happy for others when you’re experiencing great loss, especially if you’re seeing all that happiness on social media. Hard, but not impossible with our loving God:)

    3. I can relate to those longings, Brenda. As a young mom, I used to watch friends kids interact with grandparents and which that my parents interacted the same way – that they would support, affirm, and love the way others did. But God soon showed me that even what seems “functional” to some, doesn’t come without its own imperfections and baggage. I think we can envy what others have or we can practice gratitude and satisfaction with where God has us. The latter seems to really develop that far reaching peace. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, and friend, we all need therapy! 😉

  5. Envy is awful. It creeps up without warning and grabs me from time to time. I think one thing that helps me is to grieve the loss. If I skip that step, I find myself in full blown envy.

    1. To grieve the loss ~ I haven’t thought of that before. Perhaps you’re on to something here, Maree. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Sometimes envy creeps up without me even knowing. As soon as it does though, I pray. I pray for God to remove the jealousy from my heart. I once applied for a promotion at work. A good friend also applied for this job. She was chosen for it. I congratulated her with a hug. She thought I would never speak to her again. I explained that God had something else for me. I prayed when my friend and I applied. I asked him to remove any envy that wanted to pop up if she were chosen and not me. And he did. We still remain good friends. A few months later, I got promoted to a different position. God is good.