Envy is an emotion related to coveting what someone else has while jealousy is the emotion related to fear that something you have will be taken away by someone else. Add envy and jealousy together and the result will often be anger. Vicious, mad dog anger.
There is a lot we can learn about dealing with envy and jealousy from the relationship between Saul and David. Samuel the prophet recorded the story writing,
1 Samuel 18:6-11 (ESV)
6 As they were coming home, when David returned from striking down the Philistine, the women came out of all the cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet King Saul, with tambourines, with songs of joy, and with musical instruments.
7 And the women sang to one another as they celebrated, “Saul has struck down his thousands, and David his ten thousands.”
8 And Saul was very angry, and this saying displeased him. He said, “They have ascribed to David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed thousands, and what more can he have but the kingdom?”
9 And Saul eyed David from that day on.
10 The next day a harmful spirit from God rushed upon Saul, and he raved within his house while David was playing the lyre, as he did day by day. Saul had his spear in his hand.
11 And Saul hurled the spear, for he thought, “I will pin David to the wall.” But David evaded him twice.
Saul was the first king of the united kingdoms of Israel, and for a while, he was a good king. But as time went on he let the power of his position affect his ego. When Saul disobeyed the prophet Samuel, the Lord rejected Saul as leader of Israel (1 Samuel 15). From here on Saul’s life takes a bad turn as he struggles harder and harder to hang onto his power.
David killed Goliath and came to the attention of Saul in 1 Samuel 17. Saul was so impressed with young David that he had David join him in the palace. Whatever Saul asked David to do he did with excellence. David was rewarded for his service with a high rank in the army. With every successful battle, David’s popularity grew, to the point that it threatened Saul. When David returned from yet another battle the people lined the streets singing and dancing in tribute to their conquering hero.
Saul’s reaction to David’s success was a combination of envy and jealousy that resulted in an uncontrollable rage. Saul was envious of David’s growing popularity as a result of his success on the battlefield. He was jealous of David fearing that David was about to replace him as king. The result of this combination of envy and jealousy was anger. Saul’s anger evolved into hatred as he vowed to kill David, hunted him, and attempted to kill him several times.
You may not be a king, but if you are an executive, or otherwise occupy a position of power, there is a very real temptation to fall prey to the same egoism as Saul. Lord Acton said, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” James, the half-brother of Jesus wrote, “For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice” (James 3:16).
The best way to avoid the evil twins of envy and jealousy is to not think too highly of yourself, rather, be humble before the Lord.
Join the Conversation
As always questions and comments are welcome. Have you struggled with envy or jealousy at home or at work? If so, how did you react?
Category: Skills | Conflict Management