“The thing that the envious person…dislikes, is, the comparative superiority of the state of honor, or prosperity or happiness, that another may enjoy, over that which he possesses.” Jonathan Edwards
I’ve envied all these things: the honor, the possessions, the happiness of others. But what I didn’t always see was the pride—the desire for superiority—that fueled my envy.
Why do I envy? Quite simply: I want to be superior. I want to be the best, to have the best, to look the best. I don’t like it when other people have it better than me.
It’s not wrong to desire certain blessings. It can even be very good. But the moment I turn and compare my blessings (or lack thereof) with others, it reveals the pride in my heart.
Pride is the fountain from which envy flows. “Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another” (Gal. 5:26, see also 1 Tim. 6:4, Phil 2:1ff).
We envy one another because we have become conceited. We do not consider others better than ourselves, but instead, we want to be better than others. We think we deserve as much, if not more, than they have (Phil. 2:1).
But the pride of envy isn’t only against others—it “contends for supremacy” with God Himself (Charles Bridges, qtd. in Humility, p. 31).
In our envy, we grasp at God’s sovereignty, object to His wisdom, and seek to obscure His glory. We fail to imitate our Savior, “who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped” (Phil. 2:6).
I knew it was wrong to compare, but it’s worse than I thought! Thanks be to God that “where sin increased, grace abounded all the more” (Rom. 5:20).