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15 Bible Verses on Envy

Use these Bible verses on envy to see what God says about jealousy, comparison, discontentment, and how to overcome it.

Though envy is often something that bubbles up deep within the secret corners of our hearts, it comes out in the way we speak, act, and view others. The opportunity to be envious of others has only grown over the years, as the media has made the lives of others easily accessible.

We are only a click away from seeing what others are up to, what they’re wearing, and who they’re with. The need to compare and compete grows alongside envy.

The Bible has a lot to say about envy. It can be one of those sins that we gloss over, or that we treat as “not so serious.” But the effects of envy not only on the person who is being envious but also on those who are being envied only lead to ruin.

Envy is a major issue in our culture, but it is first an issue in our hearts, and God deals with heart issues. If you are looking for verses about envy, or you are struggling with envy, here is what scripture has to say.

Scripture on Envy

Bible Verses on Envy - sad girl looking at her computer screen

1. Proverbs 23:17

Do not let your heart envy sinners, but always be zealous for the fear of the LORD.

As Christians, we may be tempted to look out into the world and see what those who are of the world are doing, achieving, or attaining. The lives of the world may seem like it glitters, but aside from Christ the world truly has no true treasure.

The treasures and passions of the world fades, and it is but for a moment. That is why scripture reminds us not to be envious of the lives of those in the world, rather we should be zealous for the fear of the Lord, and for living for Him.

2. Exodus 34:14

Do not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.

The jealousy that we as humans experience often comes from a sinful place.

This is the kind of jealousy that creates hatred and strife. But there is also a righteous jealousy, or a holy jealousy, which is the kind of jealousy that God has toward His people, because we are His and we commit adultery when we turn to idols, and worship things other than He who rightfully deserves our worship.

3. 1 Peter 2:1

Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind.

We are called to put off our old patterns of sin, and to put on Christ, and His character. Some of the behaviors and attitudes that we are called to put off, or to get rid of, are malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy and slander/gossip.

4. Proverbs 14:30

A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.

When we are at peace within ourselves and have peace with others, our body and mind are at peace. But when there is envy, it rots us from the inside out. And it corrupts both our words and our actions when we act on it.

5. James 3:16

For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.

Scripture calls us to be humbled and to seek the interest of others above our own. When we live this way, we are able to serve others in love and selflessness. But when there is envy, comparison and we are only looking out for our own gain, there we will find discovered and evil practices.

6. Galatians 5:19-21

The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

In Galatians 5, we find the fruit of the Spirit mentioned. The fruit of the Spirit is the evidence that we are truly saved and that God’s Spirit lives in us. Just before the fruit of the Spirit is mentioned, these verses are mentioned, that show the evidence of our sinful nature, and that we are acting according to the flesh instead of the spirit.

These are evidence of the flesh, and one of them includes jealousy and envy. We are warned not to live this way because those who do will not inherit the kingdom of God.

7. Proverbs 24:1

Do not envy wicked men, do not desire their company.

Again we’re reminded not to be envious of those who are of the world and who reject God.

8. Galatians 5:26

Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

As followers of Christ we are called not to be conceited, self-Center end or egotistical. This is the opposite of what God calls us to be, which is to be humbled, and to consider others above ourselves.

When we are conceited, we begin to provoke one another and to envy those we perceive to have more than us or are doing better than us. This is all an outward, often materialistic comparison that does not lead to godliness.

9. Titus 3:3

At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.

We are reminded that these qualities are a part of our old ways of life, when we were separated from Christ. Those were our passions and what we pursued. But in Christ these are no longer our priorities, and no longer rule us. These qualities are malice, envy and hatred. God has called us out of this way of life.

10. 1 Corinthians 3:3

You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men?

Christ has called us to be in the world but not of the world. That means that our priorities are not that of the world’s. But when we act in jealousy and there is quarreling among us, we are acting worldly instead of godly.

11. Mark 7:20-23

He went on: “What comes out of a man is what makes him ‘unclean.’ For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man ‘unclean.'”

So often we can be focused on the outside rather than the inside. But we are reminded in Mark that what’s inside is revealed on the outside. And it is what’s inside that makes us unclean.

From within our hearts sins brood, and grow. Evil thoughts, deceit, envy, arrogance and every other sin. It’s important that we ask God to purify our hearts, and to make it receptive to His word.

12. Mark 15:10

Knowing it was out of envy that the chief priests had handed Jesus over to him.

When Jesus was on earth, he too felt the effects of envy, not because He was envious, but because of the envy of others towards Him. The chief priests had nothing to accuse Jesus of, and though they believed that He blasphemed, He did not.

He was who He said He was. He was and is the Son of God. The reason they handed Him over was because of their envy. We can see how envy can lead us down a terrible path. It made the chief priests reject the only one who could save them.

13. 1 Corinthians 13:4

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.

Love is the main quality that we will read about throughout scripture, it is love for God and love for others that is the basis for all the laws. The well known passage on love in 1 Corinthians 13 not only tells us what the qualities of love look like but it also tells us what love does not look like. It is patient and kind.

It is not envious, boastful or proud. We can examine ourselves and whether we are truly loving through this passage.

14. 2 Corinthians 12:20

For I am afraid that when I come I may not find you as I want you to be, and you may not find me as you want me to be. I fear that there may be quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, factions, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder.

Paul had to write two separate letters to the church in Corinth, they are otherwise known as his problem child. There was a lot going on in the church of Corinth, including many sins that Paul called them out for. Paul was afraid that once he saw them again that they would be entangled in worldly behavior, slander, gossip, anger, factions, quarreling and jealousy.

15. Ecclesiastes 4:4

And I saw that all labor and all achievement spring from man’s envy of his neighbor. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.

The wisest man at the time, Solomon had achieved much in his life. Yet, even in all that he had seen and known, he concluded that much of the labor and achievements of mankind came from envying the lives of others. Seeing what others have, competing and comparing. And this he called chasing after the wind, it holds no value.

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