Envy is dangerous. James 4:1-2 says:
4 What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? 2 You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask.
In Colossians 3 we read:
5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 On account of these the wrath of God is coming.
Or in 1 John 2 we read:
1 John 2:15–17 (ESV) Do Not Love the World
15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.
So how can we fight it?! I believe that Proverbs 14:30-31 give us the answer:
30 A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot. 31 Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker, but he who is generous to the needy honors him.
A few things we can glean from this passage:
- We should endeavor to cultivate a tranquil heart. It gives life. Envy can literally affect us physically. Daily we should be in the business of asking the Lord to show us what idols we've erected in our hearts and to help us tear them down.
- This implies that our greatest joy should be God himself. All else is idolatry.
- Idolatry litmus test (among many in Scripture): am I generous toward the poor? Or, do I through my actions, speech, or even indifference oppose them? When God is my greatest joy and not wealth, then I can see the image of God in another human being and rejoice in God and be lead to great generosity through that rejoicing. When money is my god I become stingy and covetous and closed and in so doing greatly dishonor the Lord.