5 Ways You Can Slay Envy


The Greek proverb is correct, “Envy slays itself by its own arrows.” Envy is deadly because it will not let us live happily. It robs us of joy. It will not let us be satisfied with what we have or be grateful for our talents and personal qualities. It becomes a barrier to the celebration of who we are. It cheats us from blessings.

What can we do to slay the green monster? The next time envy creeps into your heart and mind do the following.

 Acknowledge envy as sin.

Many people struggle with envy for years, yet never acknowledge its true character. Envy is sin. The envious person is not just a victim; he or she bears responsibility. The Scripture says, “For where you have envy . . . there you find disorder and every evil practice” (James 3:16 NIV). The failure to confess envy will only lead to more sin.  Envy causes conflict with others, it travels with its cousin anger, it leads to depression, it manifests itself in gossiping, and it can even pull the trigger on murder.

Resist comparing yourself to others.

“We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves . . . [it] is not wise” (2 Cor. 10:12 NIV). Envious people are always comparing themselves to others. One way to bolster their own poor self-esteem is by finding fault with others. But when we compare ourselves with others two things happen and both are destructive. One, when we compare our strength to another person’s weakness we become prideful. Two, when we compare our weakness to another person’s strength we become envious. Either way we lose.

Recognize God’s goodness.

In other words, we need to be grateful for what we already have. A myth has circulated since the beginning of time: I must have more than you to be happy. And, you must have more than me to be happy. This is simply not true. Instead of focusing on what we don’t have, we need to remind ourselves what we do have, giving thanks for God’s graciousness in our lives. Do you have life? Health?  A job?  A house?  Clothes?  Friends?  When we understand God’s goodness in our lives, comparisons are meaningless.

Respond to others in love.

“Love does not envy” (1 Cor. 13:4 NIV). When we love other people, we appreciate their strengths and their gifts. We acknowledge that God loves them like God loves us—no more, no less. And when we choose to love, envy is eradicated from our lives.

Refocus on God.

“Don’t be envious of sinful people; let reverence for the Lord be the concern of your life. If it is, you have a bright future” (Prov. 23:17 GN).  There are only three things that will last for eternity—God, his Word, and his people. Not houses, or cars, or jobs, or vacations, or clothes.  When we look at people and their achievement and possessions, we need to look at the long haul not the short term. When I focus on God, my neighbor’s achievements and advancements don’t matter.


One of my most popular books, The 7 Sins of Highly Defective People, takes a twenty-first century look at the seven deadly sins, including envy, and offers advice on how, through Christ, we can overcome them. The book is a repair guide that will take you from highly defective to highly effective in your Christian walk. Click here to claim your copy.


About Rick Ezell

I am a husband, father, pastor, and writer. This blog is about shaping character, transforming church, and impacting culture. I believe that if one defines their moments then their moments will determine their character and their character will influence their world. I write on personal development, church leadership, and our changing culture. I also write about the resources I am developing and the books I am writing. My goal is to create challenging, relevant, and inspiring content that will help you be a better person, the church be a better parish, and the world a better place. If you are interested in those things, this blog is for you. I have served the church my entire career as a student minister and senior pastor. I studied at Samford University, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Northern Baptist Theological Seminary (eventually I will get it). I have written eight books. My most recent ones are Chapter 13: The Excellence of Love and Soul Therapy: The Healing Words of Psalm 23. Both are available as eBooks. I have written over 1000 articles for various local, regional, and national publications. I have been married to Cindy for thirty-three years. We have one wonderful daughter. We live in Greenville, SC. In my free time, I enjoy writing, reading, running, tennis, and golf. You can contact me via email or follow me on Twitter or Facebook. This is my personal blog. The opinions I express here do not necessarily represent those of my employer. The information I provide is on an as-is basis. I make no representations as to accuracy, completeness, correctness, suitability, or validity of any information on this blog and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its use.
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