The Difference Between Jealousy and Envy

Why does God say, “For I the Lord your God am a jealous God,” in Exodus 20:5? It’s because jealousy can be good while envy is always bad. 

Jealousy is not wanting to share something or someone you possess or hope to possess, and envy is resentment toward the possessions of someone else. There can be some intersecting of the two, because it is possible to have an excessive or distorted kind of jealousy that’s actually based in envy, but envy is always sinful. 

This is an important distinction because on the one hand we have God who is jealous about us. Likewise, a husband and wife should be jealous about each other. 

On the other hand, St. Augustine described envy as the diabolical sin, basing his reasoning on Scripture:

“through the devil’s envy death entered the world,
and those who belong to his party experience it” (Wisdom 2:24).

Worthy of note is the fact that good translations of the Bible translate 1 Corinthians 13:4 to say “love does not envy.” 

Rather than allowing the blessings of others to sadden us, let us rejoice in them and our own.

Meet Fr. Mike Schmitz

Fr. Mike Schmitz serves as Director of youth and young adult ministry for the Diocese of Duluth and as chaplain for the Newman Catholic Campus Ministry at the University of Minnesota-Duluth.

He is a presenter in Ascension’s ChosenAltaration, and The 99 programs, and has a channel on Ascension Presents.

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