I secretly relate to Veruca Salt, the self-centered girl who was never satisfied in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, when she sings, “I want the works/I want the whole works/Presents and prizes and sweets and surprises/Of all shapes and sizes/And now/Don’t care how/I want it now.”

We women do tend to want the works, especially if someone else got the works first. If you see another person’s good fortune and Veruca’s song starts up in your mind, you’ve got envy, my friend.

Envy throughout Our Week

During the week we were writing this, Shelley had her own run-in with envy:

Envy Episode #1: Monday we took muffins to the new young couple moving in across the street, and they showed me all the work they’re doing on their house. They’ve got to be at least twenty years younger than me, and they are doing all the renovating that I’ve been wishing for. She’s getting the carpet I want, the swimming pool I’ll never get, even the deep kitchen sink I want that could actually fit my frying pan in flat. That’s so not fair.

Envy Episode #2: This gorgeous friend of mine is getting her already beautiful teeth straightened with those invisible braces. Well, I want straight white teeth without unsightly braces, so Tuesday I marched into my orthodontist’s office, figuring he’d give me a great discount since I’m already paying him to fix four of my five kids’ teeth! But, no. Invisible teeth straightening will cost more than carpet for my entire house! Plus, I have absolutely no health reason to justify braces. Phooey. There’s nothing fair about that.

 

Envy Episode #3: On Wednesday, I saw a coworker wearing the exact green shoes for which I’ve been shopping. Six months I’ve been looking for that shade of green! I dashed to the store, but of course they don’t have the green shoes anymore, nor do any of their other locations within a fifty-mile radius. That is beyond not fair. That’s a shoe travesty. I told her I was green with envy.

Envy is defined as “a feeling of discontent and resentment aroused by the desire to have the possessions or qualities or success of another.” Is this your battle?

We humans are prone to envy. In fact, envy is such a common, pervasive problem that God started and ended the Ten Commandments on this critical theme:

Commandment #1: “You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3).

Commandment #10: “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor” (Exodus 20:17).

If you have broken the tenth commandment by envying what your neighbor has, chances are pretty good that you may have also broken the first commandment and made that thing a god.

Envy’s Favorite Sport: The Comparison Game

Whenever you catch yourself comparing your lot in life to someone else’s, watch out! When you compare and fret about something lacking in your life, you may be tempted to say, “I didn’t get what she got — that’s not fair!” Or, you could begin to feel boastful that you did, indeed, come out ahead. Pride is the evil sister of Envy.

How do you stop the comparison game? Try Romans 12:15 (NASB): “Rejoice with those who rejoice.” Why is it so much easier to do the rest of this verse — “and weep with those who weep”? Oh sure, if my girlfriend gains ten pounds, I can weep with the best of them. But if she loses ten pound, it’s a little harder to “rejoice with those who rejoice.”