Martin Luther said, “Too many Christians envy the sinners their pleasure and the saints their joy because they don’t have either one.”
Paul says the folks apart from Christ are filled to the brim with envy. Phthonos (Romans 1:29) The sense is of someone longing to raise themselves to the level of the one whom they envy,but not having the energy or guts to work to that level but only to depress the envied.
A wit named Douglas Breyer wrote these gems –
Envy has been with us ever since Cain slew his brother Abel. Envy is the sin of the have-nots against the haves just as greed is the sin of the haves against the have-nots. That doesn’t mean we have to be poor to be envious because the rich rarely know who they are. On the other hand, the poor know who the rich people are: they are the folks who have fifty percent more than we have. Poverty is a state of mind induced by our neighbor’s new car. Envious people count other people’s blessings instead of their own.
Envy is the mud that failure throws at success. King Saul was happy when his people chanted, “Saul hath slain his thousands,” until they added, “and David his ten thousands” (1 Samuel 18:7-8). From that day on he tried to kill his rival. Envy begins by asking, “Why shouldn’t I enjoy what other’s enjoy?” and ends by demanding, “Why should others enjoy what I can not?” Did you hear about the preacher who was disappointed because he wasn’t invited to a neighbor’s picnic? Later, when they got around to asking him, he said, “It’s too late. I’ve already prayed for rain.”
Envy is a great leveler. If it can’t level things up, it will level them down. At best it is a social climber; at worst it is a destroyer. Rather than having someone happier than itself, it would make us all miserable together. In ancient Greece Aesop told about the man to whom Zeus granted any wish, provided his neighbor got twice as much. He asked for one chariot and his neighbor got two. He asked for a mansion and his neighbor got one twice as big. The story ends with the man asking to be blind in one eye! “O beware, my Lord, of jealousy. It is the green-eyed monster that doeth mock the meat it feeds on” (Shakespeare, Othello).