Kevin DeYoung at T4G gave a message titled “The Never-Failing, Never-Changing, All-Surpassing Goodness of God.” I recommend the entire message to you, but for this post I want to highlight one of points in his message. In the transcription below, he discusses how “God wills for His goodness to be communicative” to the world, and as he begins his point, he explains the importance of understanding the distinction between jealousy and envy. This was personally very helpful to my soul:
God wills for His goodness to be known and enjoyed… there is a distinction between envy and jealousy. God is incapable of envy. Jealousy is the unwillingness to give up what is yours. You have it, it belongs to you, perhaps you may be right in your estimation in it belonging to you perhaps your wrong…. it’s not necessarily wrong to be jealous. God at one place is called by the name jealous. To have a jealous or husband or wife is not necessarily [bad] it could be an expression of their love and commitment to not forsake one another.
But envy is different, envy is the unwillingness to have others enjoy what you want. Jealousy says, “this is mine.” Envy says, “I don’t want you to have anything good in yourself.” God cannot be envious. He never looks upon the beneficence of others, or the delight of others and is somehow miserly in His estimation of it. How could He be? For God lacks nothing, He has everything. In His goodness, He is desirous that others partake of it. Whatever good we have or whatever good we enjoy is due to the gracious communication of God’s goodness” (James 1:17). (time marker: 15:40)
In understanding God’s goodness to us, it is important to remember that He is not “holding out” on us or that He gets any type of sick pleasure by withholding His goodness. Instead, He is jealous for us and desires that we experience more of His goodness. And Christians should recognize the manifest goodness that is already present in our lives that exists in abundance and comes only from Him.
In defining these terms, I realize that I, too, can struggle with sinful envy. I’m convicted to kill the envious heart and to look at the benevolence that other’s receive with celebration and instead of anger. I pray that we all rejoice when others experience experience any form of God’s goodness knowing that we too have experience the same type of goodness just in different ways. Rather than embrace envy, let us celebrate the goodness of God manifested in all lives of believers.