Jerry Newcombe

History is filled with murders committed because of envy. Much of the history of England , for instance, contains episodes where the brothers, sisters, or other relatives of the monarch ended up in the Tower of London because of envy, lest they rival his or her power. Many of these siblings were murdered simply for having been born. If envy were to be removed from many a Shakespeare drama, the plot would fall apart.

The Smothers Brothers sometimes captured sibling rivalry (envy) in a humorous vein. One brother complained, “Mom always liked you best. She gave you a dog as a pet and only gave me a chicken!” Says the other, “Yeah. But your chicken ate my dog!”

Right now, we see in politics class envy being taken to an art form. But how can we all prosper, basing key political and economic decisions essentially on envy? Think of all the Americans recently who wanted to see the rich “soaked” with higher taxes. For many this was envy at work. So they welcomed the tax cuts to expire so the rich would pay more; and yet some 77% of us saw our taxes go up, not just the very wealthy.

Think about the story of Snow White. A beautiful woman turned herself into a witch through envy; she couldn’t stand the idea that there was someone alive more pretty, more fair, than she was. “Mirror, mirror on the wall. Who’s the fairest of them all?” Initially, the answer was “Lady queen, so grand and tall, Thou art the fairest of them all.” But when Snow White appears, envy begins, and the lovely queen becomes ugly.

Psychologist Betsy Cohen, author of a book about envy called The Snow White Syndrome, says: “We must bring envy ‘into the light.’ It is a dark and hidden emotion but easily disarmed. When unacknowledged, envy is dangerous. Bring it into the light, use the word, and it becomes less potent. We must call it by name—envy.”

Contentment and thankfulness comprise another key to overcoming envy. Benjamin Franklin once said, “Who is rich? He that rejoices in his portion.” That doesn’t mean he can’t strive to increase his portion, but envy only poisons the process.

A third antidote to envy is love. The Bible says, “love does not envy.” Envy always wants something. Love is the opposite of envy because it wants to give.

Well, what if the grass on the other side of the fence really is greener? You should see their water bill.

Jerry Newcombe

Dr. Jerry Newcombe is a key archivist of the D. James Kennedy Legacy Library and a Christian TV producer.