“Take special care of those ruby slippers, I want those most of all.”
“Curses, curses! Somebody always helps that girl. Shoes or no shoes. I’m still great enough to conquer her. And woe to those who try to stop me!”
If you are a fan of the Wizard of Oz, these words immediately summon a distressing image of a sickly green hag dressed head-to-toe in midnight black and wielding a broom of destruction, a/k/a The Wicked Witch of the West.
An evil character (literally green with envy) that will stop at nothing to destroy a young girl all because of a pair of shoes!
Don't get me wrong; I really can't fault her for admiring those fabulous sparkly ruby-red slippers! I mean, what woman doesn’t love a really great pair of shoes?
Seriously though, how can we keep ourselves from becoming a terrible shade of green by moving from healthy admiration to destructive envy?
First, we need to understand the concept of envy. Envy boils down to desiring what someone else has- status, lifestyle, possessions, characteristics, or relationships.
Some root causes:
Unhealthy Comparisons & Dissatisfaction
“If you walk on sunlight, bathe in moonlight, breathe in a golden air and exhale a Midas' touch; mark my words, those who exist in the shadows will try to pull you into the darkness with them. The last thing that they want is for you to see the wonder of your life because they can't see theirs.” ― C. JoyBell
Some folks have just learned from an early age to evaluate themselves from the lens of comparing themselves to others and then focusing on what they don’t have instead of what they do!
Pride & Worldly Gain
Buying into the idea that one deserves a life filled with success, satisfaction, and personal gain and the pursuit of money, status, achievements, and success are worthy endeavors that bring happiness.
Low Self-Esteem & Significance
Individuals who do not feel good about themselves will often seek significance from their circumstances and achievements over the value of their true selves.
Expressions of uncontrolled envy:
Resentment (highly judgmental and critical of others)
Excessive Competition in Relationships (always trying to be “better” or "one-up" others)
Depression or Bitterness (feelings of contempt for oneself or others)
Discontent (constant desire for more wealth/gain believing it will bring greater happiness)
Malice or Gossip (frequent verbal criticisms of others)
When envy is taken to extremes, it harms us from the inside out and cripples our relationship with God and others.
This is why the Bible cautions against envy!
“For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.” ~ James 3:16
“A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.” ~ Proverbs 14:30
“For jealousy makes a man furious, and he will not spare when he takes revenge.” ~Proverbs 6:34
“Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.” ~Galatians 5:26
Envy is the very opposite of love because love encourages and celebrates the good and prosperity of another.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does NOT ENVY, it does not boast, it is not proud.” ~1 Corinthians 13:4
Bottom line- Life is not fair. There will always be someone with more talents, health, possessions, or reputation than yourself. Spending your valuable time being envious of others is a pursuit not worth pursuing!
Instead, you can overcome this green condition by:
Being honest with yourself and having the courage to reveal your true feelings, attitudes, and motivations. Accepting yourself for all your strengths and weaknesses without judging or condemning. Be kind and compassionate with yourself and recognize you don't need possessions, attributes, or relationships to be significant.
Stopping the comparisons and becoming your own gold standard. Better yourself for yourself- without competing with others or using others’ achievements as a benchmark for your own journey. If you must compare- compare yourself to who you were yesterday- focusing on your changes and improvements. Lastly, avoid activities that entice or encourage comparison; for example: limit your time on social media, only go shopping when you have a specific purchase, limit your exposure to magazines that focus on vanity and material gain. Instead, surround yourself with sources that encourage reflection on the beauty and blessings in your life.
Counting your blessings and purposefully developing a lifestyle of gratitude. Dwelling upon all the great things you have in your life, the beautiful strengths and abilities that you possess naturally, and the generous blessings God showers upon you daily.
God doesn't want us to spend our time coveting what other people possess. We are all His children, designed perfectly with unique abilities and purpose. He can be trusted to bless each of us with exactly what we need at precisely the right timing. May we learn to accept God's plans and celebrate His constant goodness both in our lives and in the lives of others.
When we do this, we quickly move from envy to emulating Christ.
No more shades of green.
Father, thank you that we are made in your image. You call us perfect, beautiful, and holy- just as we are. All good things come from your hands, and we can trust you to provide exactly what we need in precisely the right measure. Help us to understand and see envy in our lives and give us the power to overcome it! We grow into our intended creation when we put away the things of this world and focus on emulating Christ.
“Let each one examine his own work. Then he can take pride in himself and not compare himself with someone else.” ~Galatians 6:4