This Little Game Called Envy

Editor’s Note: This post is part 3A in the Biblical Garden of Love series. This series is based on 1 Corinthians 13

A Little Pink Peg

*Photo Credit: Digital Art / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I have a silly confession to make. Last year, I couldn’t play the Game of Life board game with Adam because every time I did, I would feel threatened by his little pink peg wife. Someone other than me was in his passenger seat and I was jealous. I tried to remind myself  “this is just a game“, but Satan likes to prey on my insecurity. When it came to a tiny pink peg in a tiny blue peg car, I’d lose my head. When Adam would win– was I happy for him? Did I celebrate with him? Nope, I decided to be difficult. (Thankfully I can now play board games without being jealous of a plastic woman.)

Yes, perhaps you are laughing. It is really silly. Maybe you don’t go to quite that extreme, but the green eye of jealousy comes out so easily in us women. And 1 Corinthians 13 tells us, “love does not envy.”

Marla Taviano, author of From Blushing Bride to Wedded Wife: Practical Advice from a Girlfriend – What Marriage is Really Like, writes,

Love does not envy when people praise my husband’s accomplishments and overlook mine. Love does not envy when my husband’s job takes him outside and he gets a nice tan while I’m stuck inside the office all day. Love does not envy when my husband’s metabolism works three times faster than mine. How about a different twist? Love does not envy another woman because her husband has character traits mine lacks. Love doesn’t envy the fabulous home someone else’s husband paid for on his six-figure salary. Envy says, “Lord, I don’t like how you’re providing for me. I’d rather have what she has.” Envy is forever focusing on others – what they have and you don’t.

Men compete over being the biggest, strongest, and sexiest, the man with the coolest possessions, shiniest car, and the prettiest wife…and then they are done. Women? We play this little game called envy – we loathe, seethe, hold grudges, treat others spitefully… ouch! Why are we so jealous?

Green-Eyed Monster

*Photo Credit: graur codrin / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

#1 We are insecure.

We aren’t thin enough, happy enough, healthy enough, pretty enough, sexy enough, young enough, old enough…our busts aren’t big enough, our posterior isn’t small enough, we aren’t as smart as Lady X next door, our kids aren’t as well-behaved as Lady Y from church, and our husbands aren’t as helpful as Lady Z’s from work…

Precious daughter of God, you are a masterpiece! Don’t buy into these junk messages. Ecclesiastes 3:11 says, “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart…”  You are beautiful, and when someone sees you, they get a little glimpse of eternity. That’s a priceless gift!

Tell me something. Are you restful when you’re feeling resentful? No! When you are confident in yourself and who you are, you will radiate beauty. Dear Crown of Creation, you are a unique image bearer of God, designed for beauty; it is in your essence. 

Repeat this to yourself:  “I am beautiful because I am made in the image of a beautiful God and I reflect His glory.” How exciting is that?

C.S. Lewis writes in The Weight of Glory, “We do not want merely to see beauty, though, God knows, even that is bounty enough. We want something else which we can hardly put into words – to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it ourselves.”

The next time feel yourself playing this little game called envy, remind yourself of these things. Take your insecurities before the Lord your God who is also vulnerable. The Lord of all creation gave free will as a gift to Adam and Eve, allowing them to choose what He has to offer or what the world has to offer; The High King of Heaven came down to dwell among creation as a human man – talk about vulnerability!

#2 We forget our specifically designed role. 

God created Eve as the crown of creation. Woman was created to be “ezer kenegdo.” The English language does a poor job of translating this Hebrew term. It is often translated “help-meet,” but even this is a poor substitute. John and Stacie Eldredge in Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman’s Soul write, “Why are these translations so incredibly wimpy, boring, flat…disappointing?” If you’re not married, do you find yourself longing to be married? If you are married, does it sound like you’ll spend the rest of your life serving a man? Is this confusing?

What little girl dances through the house singing, ‘One day I shall be a help meet?’ Companion? A dog can be a companion. Helper? Sounds like Hamburger Helper. (Hebrew scholar Robert) Alter…translates it ‘sustainer beside him.’ The word ezer  is used only twenty other places in the entire Old Testament…every other instance…is God himself, when you need him to come through for you desperately (Eldredges).”

The Eldredges point out that in almost all of these occurrences of the word ezer are life and death situations. Deuteronomy 33: 26,29 says, “Blessed are you, O Israel! Who is like you, a people saved by the Lord? He is your shield and helper and your glorious sword.” Psalm 20:1-2 says, “May the Lord answer you when you are in distress…may he send you help.” God is our “sustainer beside him,” by our side because we desperately need Him.

Eve was created because she is “desperately needed” (Eldredges). We are desperately needed in this world, ladies! It doesn’t matter what you look like, what your GPA is, what job you hold, how much income you have, what your relationship status is, if you have kids or not, if you’re old, young, tall, short, thin, built, etc…repeat this to yourself: “I am desperately needed in this world and I have something unique to offer.” 

You were created with purpose – to glorify and enjoy God, and to reflect and radiate His beauty and glory. You were designed to be a co-heir of the kingdom, a joint ruler over the earth with man. You were designed for relationship – a powerful, intimate relationship with God, and then, a reflection of this relationship with the man you marry.

But we live in a imperfect world, you might be saying. I’m widowed. I’m divorced. I’m unhappily married. I’m not married to a Christian. I’m a single mom. I’ve lost all hope of ever being wanted by a man. It’s so easy to compare yourself to someone else – to envy what another woman might have. Dear sister in Christ, when you are envious, remember your heart is your most precious gift; it’s the gift God longs for from you; it’s the gift He most wants you to protect; and it is the gift that Satan wants most to destroy. Satan will do anything  to steal, kill, and destroy, but remember, Jesus came so that we might have life – and have life abundantly. There is hope. If you’ve been hurt by a relationship or lack thereof, if you’ve been shamed by divorce or broken through the loss of a spouse, run to God. He longs to romance, fulfill, preserve, and sustain you. Your life still has meaning in Christ Jesus.

Stains of Red

Jesus spoke this parable, ‘“A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.'” Matthew 13:2-8 *Photo Credit: Mack2happy / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

If the God of the Universe has made you beautiful and has given you deep purpose through a relationship with Him and a calling in life, why are you envious? Because we do live in a sinful world. We won’t be perfect apart from Christ.

Every time something good would happen to Adam when playing board games, I must’ve sounded like that resounding gong or clanging symbol that Paul mentions in 1 Corinthian 13. My words were juvenile and mean. I wasn’t loving. In the Biblical Garden of Love, envy is like a weed that chokes out the beautiful flower of contentment.

It’s not hopeless! Taviano explains how to overcome envy:  “The antidote to envy is focusing on God – being content and grateful for the home, possessions, husband, and life He has blessed me with.”

Without a loving heart toward other women, your relationship with God means nothing. We can’t claim to know the Father who is love, and then hate our sister. Without a loving heart toward my husband, my marriage means nothing. Without love, everything is meaningless. I gain nothing, have nothing, and am nothing.

Envy is like the weeds springing up among the rocks or the thorns in the parable of the sower. If you sow envy, you poison love. If your love is shallow, at the first sign of trouble, it will wither. But if you sow the seeds of contentment, it will shelter love.

Stop looking out. Stop looking in. Focus up on God. Remember the stains of red that washed your sin away and made you white as snow. Remember the need for green jealous eyes have been eliminated if you remember who you were designed to be, and just how beautiful you are!

I’d love to hear from you

What about this post resonated with you? What other reasons do you think women are often jealous? Do you struggle with jealousy/envy? How do you respond to it? 

Related Posts:

An Introduction to the Biblical Garden of Love

1. When Practice Doesn’t Make Perfect; 2. What is Love?  

Love is Patient

3. Does Patience Grow on Trees? Part 1A; 4. Does Patience Drive Your Car? Part 1B; 5. But What if Patience Doesn’t Fit? Part 1C; 6. I Take Thee to Be My Husband…and then I’ll work under you, be your personal slave, and never have an opinion of my own forever Part 1D; 7. A Flourishing Marriage Part 1E

Love is Kind

8. Broken – Love Poured Out Part 2A; 9. Always Greener on ‘This’ Side of the Fence, Part 2B

Other – What is a help-meet? 

 Under the Arm and Near the Heart, Part 1 of Portrait of Eve series


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10 Comments

  1. I have struggled furiously with jealousy in the past, and sometimes it’s hard to explain why. Kinda like your “little pink peg” story, it can’t always be explained why those feelings spring up (no matter how silly they may seem). They still seem to crop up in us women-folk. It is difficult to get through jealousy, but by relying on God, it is possible. I liked how you talked about seeing ourselves the way that God sees us. That way our focus is shifted onto things that really matter rather than what the mirror tells us or what car we drive. Thanks :)

    • You’re welcome. Thanks for sharing. It’s always nice to know that I’m not the only one who struggles with these things, even though rationally, I can admit we all do. Seeing ourselves the way God sees us really is the way to break through our envy and jealousy.

  2. “stop looking in. Focus on God” That’s a good word! Envy does hinder us from our purpose. Excellent insights!

    • Thank you for commenting. Envy is a powerful thing that draws us away from God and from serving others and wanting the best from them and focuses us inward on self – how much we WANT something and how much we DESERVE something no matter what the cost.

  3. Thank you for this post. I especially appreciate you adding the translation for help meet. And I did not laugh at you, as one who truly envied Michael Jordan and Chaka Khan when I finally realized my husband’s love for sports and music. I don’t see envy the same as jealousy. I have to ponder your other questions for a bit before responding. I also believe that struggling with a toxic or ungodly issue is way better than embracing or accepting it. I also relate to the Apostle Paul who declares in Romans “when I do what I do not want to do it is no longer I who do it, but sin living in me.” Although the spirit is new, the flesh still hangs around stirring up stuff until we have been totally liberated from it.

    • You’re right about the difference between jealousy and envy. Thank you for pointing that out. Jealousy is used in the Bible as a negative and positive thing. For example, the Lord is jealous for us. That’s not bad jealousy. Eastons Bible Dictionary also suggests that jealousy for your wife’s purity and an intense interest for another’s honor or property is also a positive jealousy. Elevating your demands above another’s and then being jealous when it doesn’t work out for you but does for someone else to the point of becoming spiteful, angry, and bitter is negative jealousy. That is when jealousy is elevated to envy (sin over the blessings and achievements of others).

      Great correlation to Romans too. Thank you for your comments.

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