Does Christianity believe in the existence of envy?
Envy, as a feeling, exists. We know, for example, that Cain envied his brother Abel, that Joseph the Righteous was envied by his brothers, and that the Lord Jesus Christ was handed over to death by the Jewish priests owing to their envy of Him.
At the end of the prayer of thanksgiving we say:
“Preserve us from all envy and every trial and act of Satan”.
Envy exists, but an ‘envious eye’ is not something we believe in!
Some people believe that there are individuals who are envious by nature, such that if they should cast their envious eye someone, some accident will befall that person, so they are fearful of envy and of those who might be envious; whom they believe have the power to do evil. Sometimes they conceal the blessings which God bestows so generously on them for fear of envy, and they make up stories of this kind of envy that amount to little more than superstitious nonsense.
This kind of envy, we don’t believe in, and we regard it as a kind of intimidation and unhealthy suspicion.
Envy does not harm the person who is envied, but rather the person who envies.
It doesn’t harm the one who is envied, otherwise all those who have ever excelled or held foremost positions would have been exposed to envy and suffered loss, and likewise all who have ever obtained notable rank or state awards of distinction would have become the targets of envy and have been smitten by disaster or misfortune.
What we see however, is the opposite, which is that the one who envies lives a wretched and unhappy life as a result of his envy and inner misery, as the poet said:
“Bear patiently the deceitfulness of the envious, for your endurance will kill it; just as fire surely consumes itself if it finds nothing to feed on.”
Why do we pray, then, to be preserved from envy, since it does no harm?
We do not pray out of fear of the so-called ‘envious eye’, but we pray that God will frustrate any harmful plots or deceitful tricks which the envious person might carry out against us because of their evil hearts.
When Joseph’s brothers envied him, they threw him into a well, then sold him as a slave and were about to kill him. Cain killed his brother Abel out of envy and when the chief priests of the Jews were jealous of Christ, they conspired against Him and handed Him over to be crucified.